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

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4 Min Read

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.

Kerry Tombs-Harling

A registered practitioner with the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA), and is on the Standards Committee of NAMA.

Kerry Tombs-Harling

A registered practitioner with the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA), and is on the Standards Committee of NAMA.

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Heidi Overton
Heidi Overton 5pts

Thank you, Ayurveda, for sharing great stuff! You're the most interesting page I get to read on my feed.

Ayurveda
Ayurveda 5pts

So true Heidi. Thanks for sharing!

Heidi Overton
Heidi Overton 5pts

Everyone thought I was crazy when I worked at a spa and wouldn't get "pampered" and get pedicures while was pregnant and breastfeeding. I knew the truth about nail polish and didn't want that in my bloodstream. What ever touches your hair, skin and nails is absorbed into your blood and affects every cell in your body within 20 minutes.

Nicole DiVincenzo
Nicole DiVincenzo 5pts

I use OPI and SpaRitual. Both are DBP, Formeldahyde and Toulene free.

Tina King
Tina King 5pts

Which brands are best?! I use Zoya and Scotch Naturals

Ayurveda
Ayurveda 5pts

Sarika Very few brands in the market are completely free of toulene!

Sarika Wadhwa
Sarika Wadhwa 5pts

not all polish brands have all these in there. Butter London is DBP, toulene&formeldahyde free.

Ramaraja AS
Ramaraja AS 5pts

Killer products of humanity should be banned world wide -- Less fashion more & more healthy.

Mimeen Khan
Mimeen Khan 5pts

Its unsanitary toxic spreads germs since your nail and cuticle never touches water. And yes some women spend money on buying all the above. Not to mention fungus infections. Putting their hands in children's mouths and preparing food. So disgusting. I dont use nail polish on my hands. I stopped when a man saw my hands and nails and was shocked to know that they were not fake. He told me I would be the most unfortunate woman if I got fake nails since my own were the most beautiful nails and hands he had ever seen. Since 2000. Pelon Sanchez

Mimeen Khan
Mimeen Khan 5pts

Nope. Not surprised. Knew it for many yrs.

Linette Sue Montgomery
Linette Sue Montgomery 5pts

This is strickly my opinion- I stopped painting my nails and getting my nails done in 2004 - when I realized how stupid it was to spend crazy stupid money on nails. When I have beautiful long natural nails. Is a FAD and a VANITY THING -Vain - In my opinion. My nails are pretty PLAIN ! I put coconut oil on the now and magnesium oil spray and almond oil. Organic of course!I know there are serious chemicals in nail products like fake nails and polish & polish remover! ! I DONNOT PUT PAINT ON MY NAILS OR TOES FOR YEARS NOW !I detoxify my feet every new moon or more and I m glad you posted this !!!!- yet women will still continue to ignore the facts especially about ignoring to eat healthy :) Is Karma = Vanity :) Of course this is only my opinion based on my past habits in my life - wasted my money on nail polish & getting my nails done :) haaaa I know / 7 Peace

Manjusha Pisharody
Manjusha Pisharody 5pts

I stopped using them a year back. Can you please suggest fragrance/perfume that has minimal impact on health as well as environment? I am aware of attar (fragrant essential oil) but is there anything else?

Anil Patney
Anil Patney 5pts

I am sharing to all friends and hope they do not take the risk any more.