Not until recently did the public start becoming more aware of what was in their favorite nail polish bottle. The chemical-laden nail lacquers we love may perfect our manicure, but are filled with harsh toxins that are not only bad for us — especially pregnant women and children — but bad for the environment. The EPA classifies nail polish as a “household hazardous waste” and recommends disposing of it at a proper hazardous waste site.
While there is no such thing as natural nail polish, there are plenty of quality, 5-free nail polish brands doing their part in providing beauty lovers everywhere with safer options. In order for a brand to be considered 5-free, it must be formulated without the use of the five main toxic ingredients found in traditional polish; camphor, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and toluene. Here’s a breakdown of what these are and why they should be avoided:
- Camphor: Exposure to this via inhalation in large amounts can cause nausea, dizziness and headaches.
- Dibutyl Phthalate: Also known as DBP, this plasticizer allows polish to be flexible in order to prevent chipping. It has been a suspected teratogen, said to cause fertility problems and has been linked to cancer when tested in labs. The controversial chemical has been banned in the European Union.
- Formaldehyde: This well-known carcinogen has a strong chemical scent, is flammable and used to build household products. It is also used in labs and mortuaries as a preservative when dissolved in water (enough said!).
- Formaldehyde Resin: This derivative of formaldehyde is a nail strengthener that some may be allergic to. The traces of formaldehyde, however, are said to be minimal and are not deemed harmful if the product is used correctly.
- Toluene: This chemical is found in gasoline and helps nail polish go on smoothly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that it can cause dizziness, nausea and in extreme cases, can attribute to depression of the central nervous system and bone marrow.
We don’t know about you, but we love our mani Mondays (especially when they’re DIY) and will definitely be more mindful of reading labels on those nail lacquer bottles. Here, we’ve picked out nine of the best non-toxic nail polish brands that offer a plethora of colors that deliver long-lasting glossy finishes — and are formulated without those five harmful chemicals.