Even as a little girl, I was drawn to bright colors, often using neon nail polish to embellish my outfits. My taste in fashion and my sense of health has shifted since then, and now as a 16 year old growing up in a world where it’s difficult to turn away when you know better, I’ve tempered my love of vibrant colors for a more subdued palate and increased my desire to use products that won’t harm my body. Most young girls and women see nail polish as a critical part of their fashion identity, but few people understand just how important it is to pick a chemical-free brand. I hope you’ll read this article and make a conscious choice to toss your toxic nail polish in favor of a more gentle approach to beauty.
I have learned to read labels and become much more aware of what goes on into my body. The concerns are real and I hope all young girls will look at beauty from the inside and remember to adorn the outside with products that are free from toxins. One of my most trusted resources for cosmetics, including nail polish, is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/. The resources and information on this site make it much easier to choose products that will not harm my body.
A new study conducted by Duke University and the Environmental Working Group has shown that women with recently painted nails were found to have traces of chemicals in their body. The main chemical that leads to negative affects in our bodies is called Triphenyl Phosphate (TPHP), and is commonly used in nail polish and as a flame retardant for furniture.
Other important chemicals to be aware of in nail polish are:
Dibutyl phthalate (DBP): Used in nail polish to increase the shine and flexibility making it easier to paint on, but at what cost?According to the ewg.org “The State of California and other authoritative bodies have classified dibutyl phthalate (DBP) as a reproductive and developmental toxicant, and the European Union banned the use of this ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products.”
Formaldehyde: Used as a hardening agent in nail polish but is a known carcinogen (Substances and exposures that can lead to cancer are called carcinogens. (Cancer.org)
Toluene: Any chemical included in products that has been linked to anemia, and kidney damage is certainly not a project I want on my nails. According to weg.org “A volatile petrochemical solvent and paint thinner, toluene is a potent neurotoxicant that acts as an irritant, impairs breathing, and causes nausea.”
Doesn’t sound like the best thing to have on our body, right? Many studies have shown that TPHP can lead to a disruption in the endocrine system and overexposure can even lead to muscle weakness and paralysis. TPHP is very rarely listed as one of the main ingredients in popular nail polish brands. My research found the following brands to contain traces of TPHP in their products: Sally Hansen, OPI, Revlon, Wet-n-Wild, Maybeline, Beauty without cruelty, Milani, Essie, SpaRitual, and Orly.
What’s a girl to do?
While these big brands may seem like the only polish you can find, there are many other brands out there that supply beautiful colors and a toxic free polish. My personal favorite brand for all things beauty related, but especially nail polish, is Pacifica. Pacifica Beauty is an amazing company with a vision to empower women and make them feel their best, while offering natural and environmentally friendly products. They also work to support local charities and businesses, to help improve our communities and spread the love everywhere their product goes. If you have the chance to check out their products, they have amazing makeup, lotions, perfumes and nail polishes (all which I personally use daily). Also, I noticed that my local Target (Encinitas, CA) is carrying Pacifica products now.
Environmental Working Group, Skin Deep, DIBUTYL PHTHALATE. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/701929/DIBUTYL_PHTHALATE/
Dr. Mercola. (2014, November 22). Do You Know What’s In Your Nail Polish? Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/11/22/toxic-trio-nail-polish.aspx
ewg.org. (2015, October 19). Nailed: Nail Polish Chemical Doubles as Furniture Fire Retardant. Retrieved from http://www.ewg.org/research/nailed/nail-polish-chemical-doubles-furniture-fire-retardant