Is It Time To Set Your Nail Polish, Remover And Nail Salon & Free?

Like most women, I do like the look of my nails being painted. What I don't like is the fact that the nail polish and remover has traditionally been so toxic. Luckily there are a few companies that are making nail polishes and removers that are way less toxic for us so that we can still enjoy the visual appeal of painted nails without overly polluting our bodies in the process. The same goes for nail salons, although few exist at the moment (in comparison to regular salons) I expect that as more women wise up and demand safer alternatives, there will be more nail salons that offer toxic-free nail services. I must point out though that it's not all roses and daisies, nail polish by its very nature cannot be 100% natural. But by being aware of what to look out for, we can make more informed decisions about what we expose our bodies to. Another important point is that is you are pregnant then skip the nail polish all together! It's safer for you and your baby. Pregnant women, asthmatics, and children should all avoid nail polish and removers wherever possible. I should note that some brands are precisely formulating their safer finishes for children, so there are options out there.

Chemical Free Alternatives

So what should we all be on the lookout for when it comes to searching for a brand to trust? 3 Free, 4 Free and 5 Free are all starting to become mainstream terms when referring to polish lines that are safer for us. But what exactly do those terms mean?

3-Free5 Free Nail Polish for Gel Manicure

The formula is free of Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Toluene, and Formaldehyde. 


The formulation is free of Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Toluene, Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Resin.


The formula is free of Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, and Camphor. There is one more ingredient that we should be on the lookout for when deciding on a nail polish brand. We don't want Ethyl acetate (it's a known neurotoxin). So as far as nail polishes go 5 Free is the safest of the bunch (at the moment!), but at the very least go 3 Free. And always try to stick with water-based because they are easier to remove, don't stink, don't give off fumes and are non-flammable!

What about the removers? I hear you say.

Narelle Chenery (scientist and creative director of Miessence) says "Nail polish removers are just as bad as the polishes. They’re usually full of acetone, fragrances, methyl ethyl ketone, phthalates, and toluene. And most of these cause significant damage to the human body." The point here is that all conventional types of nail polish removers should be avoided not only due to the harsh ingredients but also the strong fumes! It's not all doom and gloom though! The good news is that most natural water-based nail polishes can be removed without any nail polish remover at all. I have personally tried natural nail polishes, and I found that the easiest way to remove them was in the shower under the hot water, and just gently scraping the finish off. I also really liked the hydrated feeling I was left with after using & removing a non-toxic nail polish. It was a beautiful departure from the dry and tortured feeling I was left with after traditional nail polish and remover (and don't even get me started on shellac! Yuck!). Another bonus is that many of the natural polish brands have their removers that are safe and toxin-free.

And now time to set the Nail Salon Free too!

We've all done it, walked through the door of a nail salon only to have felt like we walked through a force field that brought us into an area where we felt like we needed a gas mask. This is because there are so many toxic chemicals floating around a typical nail salon, chemicals (like those listed above) and other volatile organic compounds that are used at such high levels that they can often cause headaches, irritation, and breathing problems. Plus there are also links to far longer reaching health issues such as cancer and reproductive problems. I wonder what is in store for the nail salon workers and their health when I read articles like this. I wish that I could say that there are a plethora of nail salons that have ditched the conventional toxic stuff in preference for healthier options (not just for us but also for their workers) but there just isn't. So what are your options? I know that I did try to take in my natural nail polish to a conventional salon, but I found that the typical way that they know how to apply nail polish just didn't work with the natural alternative. Therefore if you have a nail salon close by to you that does regularly use safer brands then go wild, but if you don't then I would stick to painting your nails yourself at home (it's way cheaper anyway). And as far as the new craze for Gel Manicure or Shellac Goes - AVOID AT ALL COSTS! While you might be drawn to the shine and resilience that this option provides you, you should also know that all that time that you're keeping your hands directly under a UV light is not that good for your skin. Plus removing a shellac or gel manicure often involves a grinding process of drenching your nails in acetone for up to 10 minutes. I ask - how can any of that be good for your nails?! I tried it once, and I will not do it again.

Gel Manicure Blue Light

Disposing of your nail polish:

I would also like to point out that when you do decide to dispose of the regular toxic nail polish or even a 3 Free, 4 Free or 5 Free nail polish that you dispose of your nail polish safely. Most councils consider nail polish an environmental toxin and suggest that you dispose of it through a household waste program. In closing, as with most things in this life the closer to the source you are of something the better it is for your body. Therefore the best thing possible is not to wear nail polish at all. But I understand just how beautifully painted nails can look, and that is why I would urge you to do a little research and find some safer options.

Article Contributed
Danielle Lewis