Nail Polish Is Getting a Major, Nontoxic Makeover

Nail Polish Is Getting a Major, Nontoxic Makeover

The Problem with Traditional Nail Polish

For years, nail polish has contained chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, and phthalates. While these ingredients allow for that glossy finish we love, they can also cause health issues:

  • Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen that can irritate eyes and airways.
  • Toluene may harm the nervous system and is potentially toxic to unborn babies.
  • Phthalates are endocrine disruptors associated with hormonal imbalances.

The Rise of Plant-Based, Nontoxic Nail Polish

Thankfully, many brands now offer nontoxic nail polishes made from plants and minerals. These polishes skip the dangerous ingredients and instead rely on:

  • Natural pigments from sources like fruits, seeds, and clay
  • Plant-derived resins and gums to form the polymers
  • Essential oils for fragrance

Not only are these formulas safer and healthier, many of their shades and finishes rival traditional polishes. Best of all, they’re kinder on sensitive nails and cuticles.

Benefits of Nontoxic Nail Polish

Switching to nontoxic nail polish offers several advantages:

  • Avoid harmful chemicals – No exposure to ingredients linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, etc.
  • Reduce allergic reactions – Plant-based formulas are less likely to cause rashes or skin irritation
  • Eco-friendly options – Many brands use recycled glass bottles, vegan formulas, natural brushes and avoid animal testing
  • Protection for salon workers – If used in salons, nontoxic polishes prevent chemical exposure through hours of applications

Finding a Nontoxic Nail Polish Brand

Today, nontoxic nail polish is widely available from specialty green beauty retailers. Some top brands leading the way include:

  • Kure Bazaar – One of the original plant-based polish pioneers
  • Tenoverten – Chic NYC salon brand, 9-free formulas
  • Sundays – Founded by an MIT scientist, long-wearing vegan colors
  • Zoya – Healthy polish innovator since 1986, now owned by conventional brand Art of Beauty

Transitioning to Healthier Nail Care

When shopping for nontoxic nail polish, look for formulas labeled 5-free, 7-free, 9-free or 10-free. This means they’re free from 5-10 major nail polish toxins. Understand that safer polish formulas may need occasional touch-ups, so opt for regular manicures over long-lasting versions.

With this swap alone, you can make significant progress in removing harmful chemicals from your self-care routine. Coupled with natural cuticle oils, nontoxic top coats and plant-based nail polish removers, you can create a clean, green nail care regimen that’s safe for you and the environment.


What is in regular nail polish that is bad?

Most conventional nail polishes contain concerning ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates, and camphor. These have been linked to hormone disruption, organ toxicity, and cancer.

Is it worth buying nontoxic nail polish?

Yes! Safer nail polish avoids harmful chemicals in standard formulas. This reduces your toxin exposure and potential health risks. Nontoxic polish is better for sensitive skin too.

How long does nontoxic polish last?

Plant-based polishes may need more frequent touch-ups than traditional lacquers with harsh chemicals. However, many new natural brands last 5-7 days with proper prep and top coat.

Is acrylic or dip powder bad for your nails?

Acrylics and dip powders also contain chemicals like methyl methacrylate, ethyl methacrylate, and phthalates. While not as deeply penetrating as polish, they block nails from breathing and damage the nail plate over time if done routinely.

What is the healthiest nail polish?

The healthiest polishes avoid the “toxic trio” – formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalates (DBP). Look for plant-based formulas labeled 5-free, 7-free, 9-free or 10-free to know all major toxins are removed.