Toxins in Nail Polishes
To discover how toxic nail polish really is, the California Environmental Protection Agency tested 25 different salon-quality nail polishes. They tested these nail polishes for three chemicals that have known health risks. The chemicals tested for include toluene, dibutyl phthalate, and formaldehyde.
They tested for these three chemicals specifically because of recent changes in the industry. After a backlash against nail polishes containing these ingredients, many manufacturers claimed to remove them from their products. Some even went so far as to put a toxin-free label on their polishes.
Dibutyl phthalate is a chemical that has been linked to birth defects in lab animals; research has been similar for toluene. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen with many different health risks.
Why They’re Dangerous
Why are these chemicals particularly dangerous? Toluene is a clear liquid that is used to combine other ingredients used to make nail polish. Exposure to toluene can cause headaches, dry skin, eye irritation, and throat irritation. Salon workers, who tend to have regular exposure to these vapors, are at greatest risk.
Dibutyl phtalate is meant to keep your nails from cracking. However, constant exposure to this chemical has been tied to irritation of nose and mouth, disruption of reproductive hormones, and throat irritation.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. Regular and prolonged exposure to this chemical may lead to a greater risk of cancer and other health problems. Many people also suffer allergic reactions to formaldehyde, so you may want to watch out for skin irritation or allergy symptoms after getting your nails done.
When you consider everything your hands do, it’s clear that you have to be careful about what you are putting on your nails. Even those who are very careful about keeping their hands out of their mouth may unintentionally touch their mouths several times per day.
Every time you touch your mouth with a manicured nail, you are introducing these chemicals to the inside of your body. Over time, this can have dire consequences, especially if you’re a regular salon goer.
Making Better Nail Polish Choices
The solution, of course, is to choose nail polishes that don’t use these toxic ingredients. More and more beauty companies are removing toxins from their products, so you may have a greater variety to choose from as this movement catches on.
It may not be enough to look for a nail polish with a toxin-free label, as some of those tested still had these ingredients. Look for nail polishes that have been tested by outside groups and found to be consistent in their claims.
Toxic chemicals in nail polish are a threat to your health, but you don’t have to give up this much-loved part of your beauty routine. Just switch to a safer nail polish and you’ll enjoy all the benefits of a great manicure.