Like most women, I do like the look of my nails being painted. I'm not too fond of the fact that the nail polish and remover have traditionally been so toxic.
Luckily, a few companies are making nail polishes and removers that are way less toxic for us to still enjoy the visual appeal of painted nails without overly polluting our bodies in the process.
The same goes for nail salons. A 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 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 crucial point is that if you are pregnant, then skip the nail polish 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
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?
The formula is free of Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Toluene, and Formaldehyde.
4-Free Nail Paint
The formulation is free of Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Toluene, Formaldehyde, and Formaldehyde Resin.
5-Free Nail Polish
The formula is free of Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, and Camphor. We should be on the lookout for one more ingredient 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, who works at Miessence says to stay clear of removers because of the ingredients they contain, such as acetone, phthalates, toluene, ketone, and more. Inhaling these chemicals can lead to headaches.
The point here is that all conventional nail polish removers should be avoided due to the chemical fumes. It's not all doom and gloom, though! Some polishes can be taken off with plain old water, while others chip off.
I also really liked the hydrated feeling I was left with after using & removing non-toxic nail polish.
It was a nice departure from the dry and tortured feeling I was left with after traditional products (and don't even get me started on shellac! Yuck!). Some companies are now creating so-based removers.
Beyond the Nail Salon
Now, it's 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. There are no "Clean Beauty" nail salons.
I wonder what is in store for the nail salon workers and their health when I read articles about chemicals used in nail salons. I wish that I could say that many nail salons have ditched the usual toxic stuff in preference for healthier options (not just for us but also for their workers), but there isn't.
So what are your options? I know that I tried to take my natural nail polish to a traditional salon, but I found that the typical way they know how to apply nail polish didn't work with the natural alternative.
Therefore if you have a nail salon close to you that regularly uses 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 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.
Disposing of your nail polish
I would also like to point out that when you decide to get rid of the regular toxic nail polish or even a 3 Free, 4 Free, or 5 Free nail polish, it should be disposed of safely.
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 safest way to avoid all of the chemicals 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.Contributed by Danielle Winters
Organic Natural Beauty Directory Founder
Thank you to Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.org for this information.