Toxic Nail Polish and How to Avoid It

nail polish heart
When you walk into the nail shop, you’re looking forward to a relaxing spa experience. Instead, your nose is probably assailed with chemical odors. What are you smelling? It is not a natural smell….it’s a myriad of chemicals: the powder used for acrylic nails, nail polish remover, and nail polish to name a few. If it smells this bad, can you imagine what it can do to your body? Some of the most toxic chemicals you will encounter at the nail shop is toulene, formaldehyde, and DBP (most often called the Big 3.) You may be saying to yourself, what are these and why should I be afraid of them??

Out of those three ingredients, the one you might have already heard of is formaldehyde. Yes, that is the same substance used in the preservation of dead bodies.

Formaldehyde is not something you should be using while alive, as it is a carcinogen.

And this is the same ingredient in your nail products. Toxins, anyone? It is mainly used to make the polish resilient.

Toulene is another chemical used in polishes to make it easy to apply and fast drying. It is a toxin that is easily absorbed through the skin, found in paints and explosives. It can cause a myriad of problems.

DBP is dibutyl phthalate, has been found to interfere with birth development and is sometimes not even on the ingredient list!

So when I go to the nail shop or go to purchase nail polish (because let’s face it, most of us do not want to give up our pedis and manis) I look for this on the label: formaldehye/toulene/DBP free. It’s not too difficult to find, in fact, I recently caught up with one of my favorite blogs, The Organic Beauty Expert and I was delighted to read about a new nail polish (NP2 Nail Perfection) which does not contain any of these chemicals.

I went on to read more and went to the site to check out the new polish. Guess how much? $22.50 a bottle. Now, this is a pretty cool product in that it is a two-sided bottle that comes with a supposedly chip resistant express dry top coat. But for some of us on a budget this might not be the best option. To check out this post, click here: The Organic Beauty Expert.

So what to do when you refuse to use toxic polish but still like to have pretty nails?

Enter… Walgreens. Yes, Walgreens! I was shopping one day and found they carried Sinful Colors Professional Nail Color, a very affordable (under $5 a bottle) and safe brand of nail polish. And the colors are truly sinful! If you’re like me, you’’ll probably want one of every color. And the best part is, their formulas are formaldehyde, toulene, and DBP-free. (Even if they are big-3 free, many nail polishes still contain toxic ingredients….it’s a trade off- the big-3 are the most important to avoid.)

You can also find them online.  So when you’re at the salon or the store, check out the ingredient list before you buy and make a safe choice when it comes to your nail products.

Do you have any safe polish recommendations? Leave them in the comments below!

Stay natural…stay beautiful…go green!


Robin started her career as an educator of children and has now become an educator for adults everywhere who want to know the truth about what they put into their bodies through the skin. She is passionate about educating people to make better health and beauty choices.
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  • The Vision ACademy

    Great blog! I have always wanted to go as organic as possible, but like you said, it can be very expensive. Great tip on where to purchase nail polish! I think a lot of my decision to go organic is because I am also starting to go green (something I am starting to get very passionate about) It is great to see the beauty industry is starting to do both. I am a student at The Vision Academy and we are going green! Maybe I can suggest this polish to use there :)

  • AJ Spicoli

    Hi Robin. This is so true, but it goes beyond nail polish as there are toxic ingredients in most US personal care products. In fact, most people are not aware that there are over 10,500 chemicals in cosmetic products and only 11% have been tested over the last 30 years. The industry is also self-regulated. Most people are unaware of that fact, and as a result, can say anything they want on their products. No one questions them. The only real way to get truly organic &/or natural personal care products is to look for certification logos on the containers and the packaging.
    Some US companies are truthful, but most just use the words natural and organic as a marketing ploy. Bottom line is to do your homework.
    Meanwhile, again good job on your discovery of formaldehyde in nail polish. Lead is also still used in some brands.
    .-= AJ Spicoli´s last blog ..Cosmetic Regulation-FDA-CIR-FDCA-State Legislation =-.

  • Robin Adler

    Hi AJ,

    My blog is all about exposing toxic ingredients in all cosmetics and I very greatly appreciate your comments.


  • christie flowers

    You should check out Beauty Without Cruelty polishes!