August 9, 2017


Image Credit: @wildheartedesther

A good manicure and pedicure is such a nice little luxury.  But before you splurge on your next trip to the nail salon, you may want to think twice before selecting your nail polish.
Many conventional nail polish brands are known to have serious carcinogens and other toxins that are especially harmful to children and pregnant women.  The negative effects are so powerful that some of the more extreme toxins have been banned by the European Union (EU).


  • Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP):  Pronounced "thal-ate," this is mainly used in nail products as a solvent for dyes and as a plasticizer that prevents nail polishes from becoming brittle.  Phthlates can also be found in fragrances.  Banned by the EU, this toxin has been known to cause infertility, and liver and kidney failure.
  • Toluene:  According to OSHA, just by breathing its fumes, toluene can cause dizziness, discharge of tears, dermatitis, liver damage and even birth defects.
  • Formaldehyde:  Found in many building materials and household products, short-term exposure can cause sore throat, cough, scratchy eyes and nosebleeds.  The CDC reports that long-term exposure increases a chance for nose or throat cancer.
  • Formaldehyde Resin:  This by-product of formaldehyde has been known to cause severe skin irritation, allergic reactions and loss of nerve sensation.
  • Camphor:  Camphor found in conventional nail polishes help give its glossy and shiny appearance.  Although it is not as toxic as the first 3 listed above, studies have shown that camphor can cause severe skin irritation and allergic reactions when inhaled or applied topically.
  • Parabens:  Used as a preservative in 85% of all cosmetic products sold in the U.S., parabens are linked to "increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity." - Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC)
  • Xylene:  Produced from coal tar or crude oil, the main effect of inhaling xylene vapor is depression of the central nervous system.
  • Ethyl Tosylamide:  A plasticizer that helps transform polish from drippy to dry in minutes, the ingredient has been barred from personal care products in Europe due to concerns over antibiotic resistance.
  • Triphenyl Phosphate (THPH):  Makes nail polishes more flexible and durable, and is also used to make plastic and to stop foam furniture from catching fire.  Studies have shown that TPHP is an endocrine disruptor, causing hormonal imbalance and potential weight gain.
Image Credit: @wildheartedesther


Many nail polish brands are starting to eliminate some of these toxins from their formulas, including mainstream brands OPI and Essie.  Three-free polishes (meaning without the 3 toxins DBP, toluene or formaldehyde) are the basic standard to non-toxic polishes.  Some companies have gone above-and-beyond, setting a new bar for safer nail polishes by producing up to 10-free (of harmful ingredient) polishes.  

Want a healthier, well-polished mani pedi this summer?  Keep reading for the top 10 clean polish brands that are making a splash on the fashion runways.


  • The Brand:  Founded by the creators of makeup line Hard Candy, this line is inspired by a fictional beauty lover who keeps a diary.  Each eye-catching shade captures a moment in her life story.  
  • Missing Toxins (8-Free):  Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, DBP, Toluene, Camphor, Ethyl Tosylamide, Xylene & TPHP 
  • Color to Try:  Lover's Creep ($18), a velvety, vampy bordeaux red


  • The Brand:  Butter London's innovative formula delivers gel-like cushion, superior shine and fade-resistant color for up to 10 days of wear, while preventing breakage and peeling.
  • Missing Toxins (8-Free):  Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, DBP, Toluene, Camphor, Ethyl Tosylamide, Xylene & TPHP
  • Color to Try:  Ace ($18), a violet orchid shade that is bright & modern, yet work-appropriate.

4.  ZOYA 

Image Credit: @christinekobzeff

  • The Brand:  Zoya started out as a 3-free label in 1986, and now has become the world's largest nail polish company with over 490 long-lasting, non-toxic shades to choose from.  
  • Missing Toxins (10-Free):  Formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, toluene, camphor, TPHP, parabens, xylene, ethyl tosylamide & lead
  • Shade to Try:  Dahlia ($10), a black beauty with a sugared sparkle in an opaque, matte formula

4.  OPI

Image Credit: OPI

  • The Brand:  Mainstream nail color brands like OPI are switching over to cleaner nail polish formulas.  OPI's Infinite Shine 2 Lacquer delivers ultra-rich, vivid color.  It is long-wearing without the commitment of gel polish, lasting up to 10 days.
  • Missing Toxins (5-Free) Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Toluene, DBP, & Camphor. 
  • Color to Try:  Go to Grayt Lengths ($12.50), a shimmery, silver gray shade with time-released pigments for strong staying power. 


  • The Brand:  Ridiculously cute elephant logo.  Vegan, cruelty-free.  PETA-certified.
  • Missing Toxins (7-Free):  Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, DBP, Toluene, Camphor, TPHP & Xylene
  • Shade to Try:  Sugar Fairy ($10.50), a perfect neutral with a slight shimmer.  To recreate the look as seen in the picture above, the talented @melcisme used Sugar Fairy, Champagne Pop with Matte-ly In Love top coat.


  • The Brand:  Founded by celebrity makeup artist Rose Marie Swift (RMS), this beauty line started off (naturally) as a coconut oil-based makeup brand.  RMS has expanded over the years to skincare and now nail polish.  The nail colors are inspired their bestselling makeup products, including supermodel Miranda Kerr's favorite lip shine in Sublime.
  • Missing Toxins (7-Free):  Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, DBP, Toluene, Camphor, Xylene & TPHP
  • Shade to Try:  Sublime ($15), the ultimate bright pink hue.  


  • The Brand:  Pacifica is a natural beauty brand with a full range of cosmetics, perfumes, and skin care.  All of their products contain safe ingredients in recyclable packaging, and are 100% vegan, and cruelty-free.
  • Missing Toxins (7-Free):  Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, DBP, Toluene, Camphor, Xylene & TPHP
  • Shade to Try:  Out of 55 shades, one of my favorites is Purple Haze ($9).


Image Credit: @annlestyle

  • The Brand:  Loyal fans should be excited to know that these cult-favorite pots are 7-free.
  • Missing Toxins (7-Free):  Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, DBP, Toluene, Camphor, Xylene & TPHP
  • Shade to Try:  Fiji ($9), the most beautiful light pink that works on most skin tones.


Image Credit:

  • The Brand:  Celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippman is a genius at designing a gel formula in drool-worthy colors.
  • Missing Toxins (7-Free):  Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, DBP, Toluene, Camphor, Xylene & TPHP
  • Shade to Try:  Hologram Girl Nail Polish Pack of 2 in Pink ($19)  Two gel lab pro colors include Dirty Little Secret, a sheer holographic greige shimmer, and Beauty School Dropout, a full coverage bubblegum pink creme.


Image Credit: Kure Bazaar

  • The Brand:  Kure Bazaar nail polishes are made of 85% natural ingredients, including wood pulp, wheat, cotton, potatoes and corn.  Kure Bazaar nail polishes glide on smooth, slick and shiny.  
  • Missing Toxins (7-Free):  Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, DBP, Toluene, Camphor, Xylene & TPHP
  • Shade to Try:  Kohl ($24)



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