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The Hidden Dangers of Nail Polish and Natural Alternatives

Updated: Sep 5, 2022

Let me start by saying that the EPA classifies nail polish as a household hazardous waste product, and requests that it is disposed of in a proper hazardous waste disposal site. This is a scary thing to think about. We are putting something so toxic on our bodies that the EPA considers it something that should be disposed of at a proper hazardous site! The many hidden dangers of nail polish will be clearly stated in this article. But don’t worry, I am also including several great, natural alternatives!

The Top 10 Toxic Chemicals Found in Many Nail Polishes:

Toulene - A dangerous chemical also found in gasoline that known to cause harm to the reproductive system.The CDC warns that toulene can cause central nervous system problems.

Formaldehyde – This dangerous carcinogen is used to preserve dead things! There are warnings on the label to avoid inhalation and contact with skin. Studies have shown it to be linked with cancer as well. Scary fact: It is found in many mainstream nail polishes! (source:

Formaldehyde Resin (might be listed as; Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin or TSFRA): It is a derivative from the already dangerous chemical, Formaldehyde. It is an ingredient in nail polish used to add flexibility and improves adhesion to the nail plate.

Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) - Europe has banned this dangerous chemical. It also causes reproductive problems. The Environmental working group (EWG), a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment; classifies this chemical as the highest danger level, and warns that it can cause organ problems and endocrine disruption.

Camphor - This waxy, highly flammable poison adheres to your nails, and is the cause of the yellow staining they get after nail polish is removed. This happens because it is depriving your nails from needed nutrients. It can also cause seizures if used in large doses.

Xylene - This is another dangerous carcinogen. The hazards of xylene are well documented. It produces vapor that can cause harm to the central nervous system. It can also cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. (source: ncbi)

Ethyl Tosylamide - This dangerous chemical is a plasticizer that helps polish dry quickly. And is another ingredient that has been banned in Europe due to its antibacterial properties and concern over antibiotic resistance. Ethyl Tosylamide is a mixture of isomers of toluene bound to ethanesulfonamide.

Parabens - We talked about the dangers of parabens in our, “Bentonite Clay Armpit Detox” post. It is a very hazardous chemical found in many health and beauty products. Parabens are hormone disruptors that have been shown to mimic the activity of the hormone estrogen, and are associated with the formation of breast cancer after having been found in breast tumors.

Lead - A widely known and proven neurotoxin that's been linked to many health problems, including; learning and behavioral problems, reduced fertility and hormone disruption. Within our bodies, lead is absorbed and stored in our bones, blood, and tissues. It does not stay there permanently, rather it is stored there as a source of continual internal exposure. (source

And, one you won’t hear much about…

Triphenyl Phosphate (TPHP) - rarely listed on nail polishes, and extremely toxic. It is a neurotoxin, endocrine toxin, and reproductive toxin. It disrupts our endocrine system, and can negatively affect regulation of our hormones, metabolism, and reproduction.

From Healthy Holistic Living:

“Researchers recently tested for signs of chemical toxins in 24 women participating in their study. They found evidence of toxins in the bodies of every single woman. What was the source of these chemicals? Nail polish.

The results showed that 100% of the participants showed signs of triphenyl phosphate only 10 hours after applying nail polish. This type of conclusive result is remarkable, and it’s also alarming.

In a follow-up study, the same researchers tested ten different nail polishes for triphenyl phosphate and discovered the chemical in 8. Two of those polishes that tested positively for the chemical did not disclose it on their product label.

This could mean that up to 20% of nail polishes sold in our country contain a dangerous chemical that isn’t listed as an ingredient.”

Now that you can clearly see all the reasons not to just grab a bottle of nail polish from your local drugstore just because the color is pretty. Let me share some safe brands that do not include the above dangerous chemicals!

10 Natural Nail Polish Alternative Brands:

  1. Honeybee Gardens

  2. Suncoat

  3. Scotch Naturals

  4. Acquarella

  5. Piggy Paint

  6. SpaRitual

  7. Peacekeeper Cause-Metics

  8. 100% Pure

  9. Hopscotch Kids

  10. Kid Licks

A "better for you," 7 Free option Nail Polish Brand:

Nail polish remover is also toxic; however there are natural alternative too! This is my favorite natural one that works really well!

It is scary to think about what we put in and on our bodies without realizing the hidden dangers—even in nail polish!

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