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Six Shockingly Dangerous Chemicals You Didn’t Know Were in Your Nail Polish

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Most women paint their fingernails or toenails at some point, and many do this as regularly as once or twice a week. Bright toenails add flair to an outfit, while certain nail colors can help to make you look polished and professional. Unfortunately, many of the ingredients found in these products have been proven to be extremely dangerous to your body. Some create hazardous fumes, while others can be absorbed through your skin. Read on to discover the six main chemicals that you should try to avoid the next time you want to paint your nails.

1) Toluene:
Toluene is a clear liquid that can also be found in disinfectants, paint thinners and solvents. It helps to make sure that nail polish dries smoothly. However, being exposed to even low levels of toluene can cause lethargy, memory problems, hormone imbalances, nausea and physical weakness. If you inhale higher levels of toluene, you are at risk of fainting. Finally, it is worth noting that pregnant women should be especially careful to avoid toluene, as some studies strongly suggest that it is linked to an increased risk of miscarriage.

2) Ethyl acetate:
Ethyl acetate is found not just in nail polish but also in cigarettes and glue. It is extremely irritating to your respiratory tract if inhaled, and also highly irritating to any skin with which it comes into contact. In addition, recent research shows that using products that contain large amounts of this chemical put you at risk of damaging your heart, liver, lungs and kidneys.

3) Dibutyl Phthalate:
Multiple studies have revealed that dibutyl phthalate can cause reproductive problems and increases the likelihood of birth defects in an unborn baby. Most companies are phasing this chemical out of their products, but some still use it on a regular basis. All phthalates should generally be avoided, as they have been repeatedly shown to damage the kidneys, lungs, and liver. It is also important to be aware that they make the skin more permeable to other compounds, ensuring that more toxic chemicals make their way into your bloodstream.

4) Formaldehyde:
Formaldehyde is used in disinfectant, used to embalm bodies, and often added to nail polish as a preservative. This highly toxic chemical is known to be carcinogenic, and there is a link between exposure and an increased likelihood of developing asthma. In addition, you should avoid chemicals that release formaldehyde, such as Diazolidinyl urea.

5) Fragrance or parfum:
Since most nail polish smells somewhat unpleasant, certain companies have tried to promote scented nail polish that smells of particular flavors (such as mint). However, current laws permit the makers of beauty products to add the misleading word ‘fragrance’ (or ‘parfum’) to their list of ingredients in such cases. This suggests that one innocent ingredient has been added, when in fact it often takes hundreds or thousands of additional chemicals to give a product its distinctive smell. The Environmental Working Group has declared fragrance to be a dangerous eight on a scale of one to ten, as many of the ingredients that create the scents of beauty products are extremely bad for your body. For example, some of them are linked to serious allergic reactions, while others appear to cause migraine headaches and mood disorders.

6) Camphor:

Camphor is a white crsytalline substance that extremely toxic if swallowed, and is potentially lethal. In addition, if your skin is exposed to enough camphor then it can also cause seizures and mood disorders. It is also particularly dangerous to pregnant women, as the American Academy of Family Physicians have noted that it can be absorbed by the skin and increase the risk of birth defects (as well as stillbirths). Even inhalation puts your child at risk of birth defects.

Now that you are more informed about which ingredients should be avoided when picking out a new nail polish, you will be far less likely to seriously put your health at risk for the sake of your beauty routine. Unfortunately, a recent study showed that even nail polish that claims to be free of toxins can sometimes contain the aforementioned chemicals. Even the makers of high end brands of cosmetics can be ruthless when it comes to these dangerous ingredients, so you should always research the product very carefully before deciding to buy it.

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Kerry Tombs-Harling
Star Expert

Kerry’s ethos as a health professional is that health is NOT one size fits all. Each of us is unique, and as such require individualized treatment. She has dedicated her life to developing an integrative approach to medicine that combines the individualized approach of Ayurveda with the benefits of modern technology, such as genetic and epigenetic testing. By combining the wisdom of eastern medicine with the breakthroughs of western technology, she is able to create transformational wellness plans, resulting in people living happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. CEO - The Holistic Highway, B.S.- Neuroscience. Masters in Education, TEDx Speaker, Practitioner at University Of Pittsburgh’s Center For Integrative Medicine. Graduate of the Kripalu School For Ayurveda and the Ayurveda Institute.

Kerry Tombs-Harling
Star Expert

Kerry’s ethos as a health professional is that health is NOT one size fits all. Each of us is unique, and as such require individualized treatment. She has dedicated her life to developing an integrative approach to medicine that combines the individualized approach of Ayurveda with the benefits of modern technology, such as genetic and epigenetic testing. By combining the wisdom of eastern medicine with the breakthroughs of western technology, she is able to create transformational wellness plans, resulting in people living happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. CEO - The Holistic Highway, B.S.- Neuroscience. Masters in Education, TEDx Speaker, Practitioner at University Of Pittsburgh’s Center For Integrative Medicine. Graduate of the Kripalu School For Ayurveda and the Ayurveda Institute.