What's in Your Nail Polish?
Formaldehyde- The National Cancer Institute considers it to be a human carcinogen that is also commonly used to embalm and preserve dead animals. It can cause irritation for the eyes and nasal passages as well as increase allergies and asthma. It may also be listed as “Formalin” on the label. Contrary to popular belief, formaldehyde is only used in nail hardeners and not the actual polish, despite being grouped into the “3-free” category.
Toluene- Is a solvent that keeps nail polish in its liquid form. It can cause irritation of the upper respiratory tract and eyes, sore throat, dizziness, headaches, unconsciousness, and in some extreme cases death. It may also be listed as “toluol” or “phenylmenthane” on the label.
DBP- Is a plasticizer used to prevent chips and cracks. It makes nail polish chip-resistant (which we all love) and flexible after drying. However, it is said to cause reproductive and developmental problems, such as birth defects, so expecting mothers should beware.
With this information in mind, I consulted with my best friend, Google, in search of finding polish companies who have removed these three toxic ingredients from their formulas. My goal was to compare the “eco-friendly” polishes with the not so eco-friendly polishes to see if there are any noticeable differences in removing the “big 3” ingredients. What I discovered however, is that the majority of nail polish companies already have removed formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP from their formulas. These are the polishes that can be found lining the shelves in a Walgreens or Wal-Mart. For my experiment, I left each polish on for one week and then compared by findings. The results of my findings are as follows:
Formaldehyde resin- Is a synthetic resin of formaldehyde that ensures the polish bonds to the nail surface. It may also be listed as tosylamide on the label and unlike formaldehyde it is found in the actual nail polish. It can cause allergies, skin abrasions, and immune toxicity. It may even cause respiratory irritation in sensitive individuals.
Camphor- Is a plasticizer that can be produced synthetically from harmful and toxic ingredients. It is said to make polish flexible after it dries, however many argue that it is not necessary to have in polishes. If ingested in large doses it can be poisonous and cause seizures. It may also cause minor side effects such as redness and irritation.
Julep is a brand of nail polish that is free of the “big 3“ chemicals plus formaldehyde resin, making it “4-free.” This polish is very expensive for only being .27 FL OZ., retailing at $14 a bottle. I purchased mine off Amazon.com for $9.99 in the Anisa color, but you can buy directly from their website at www.julep.com. However personally, I do not think it is worth the $14 price tag. The shape of the bottle differs from most brand nail polishes. It is tall and long versus the traditional shape of short and wide. Because of this, the polish brush is really long in order for it to reach the bottom of the bottle. This made it difficult to paint the nail without excess polish dripping onto the nail. In addition, this polish is very runny although surprisingly, not thin. I only applied one coat and it matched the color on the bottle perfectly. The smell was a standard nail polish smell, nothing out of the ordinary. Removing the polish was fairly painless and there was only a pinch of discoloration on the nail. Overall, I give the Julep nail polish 3 out of 5 stars.
Feeling inspired by this post and want to rid yourself of some toxic polishes? Head on over to http://www.chemwise.org/nail-polish-request.html where they will recycle any polishes that you may have. Let’s help make this world a greener place!
-xoxo Lavinia R.