Little girls like to paint their nails. Grown up girls do too. This little adornment to toes and fingers allows for some impermanent personal expression to our bodies. Dates for manicures and pedicures have become bonding experiences for grandmothers and grandchildren, aunts and nieces, and mothers and daughters. But what hidden dangers could be lurking in nail polish?
The dangers of nail polish: The toxic trio
I went though a phase of painting my nails a lot during my teen years, almost daily. Lately, I could care less, but I do remember my daughter’s fascination as preschooler with colored nails. I began to wonder what exactly is in that nail polish grandma would paint on her toes. When I learned there was toluene, phthalates, and formaldehyde in nail polish, I became concerned. Prenatal exposure to phthalates has even been linked to lower IQ.
David Suzuki identifies three toxic substances found in nail polish:
1. Dibutyl phthalate — Used as a solvent for dyes and as a plasticizer to prevent nail polishes from becoming brittle, this phthalate is classified by the EU as a suspected endocrine disruptor and as toxic to reproduction. Health Canada associates DBP with liver and kidney failure in young children when products (and polished little fingers) containing phthalates are sucked or chewed for extended periods. Although Health Canada banned six phthalates (including DBP) in soft vinyl children’s toys, its use in cosmetics is not restricted. The European Union classifies DBP as very toxic to aquatic organisms.
2. Formaldehyde — (Yes, seriously. In your nail polish.) Formaldehyde is a common ingredient in nail hardeners in concentrations of up to five per cent. In nail polish, tosylamide/formaldehyde resin is used, and may contain residual formaldehyde concentrations of up to 0.5 per cent. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen.
3. Toluene — According the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, toluene is a moderate skin irritant that can cause dermatitis with prolonged contact. It is also a developmental toxicity hazard and has been identified in human milk. Inhalation of toluene vapour can affect the central nervous system causing slight drowsiness and headache at low levels and Irritation of the nose, throat and respiratory tract at increased levels.
DBP has been banned from children’s toys and items that will enter children’s mouths by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC); however, nail polish is exempt from this ban as it is designed for humans over two-years-old.
As consumers and nail workers become more aware of the dangers of the toxic trio to human health, many beauty companies have responded by offering “non-toxic” labels; however, this label can be misleading and inaccurate.
WebMd cites a study done in 2011 by the Department of Toxic Substances Control of the California Environmental Protection Agency testing 25 nail polishes. Some of these nail products claimed to be “non-toxic”.:
The California scientists tested mostly nail color or lacquer. They also included some top coat, base coat, thinner, nail art, and a top coat-base coat combination.
They were looking for the chemical toluene, a toxin that may cause birth defects and developmental problems in children of pregnant women who have had extended exposure. They also looked for dibutyl phthalate (DBP), which has been linked to birth defects in studies involving lab animals, and formaldehyde, a carcinogen…
“The bottom-line finding is we can’t trust the labels on some of these nail salon products that are claiming to be free of these toxic chemicals,” says Rebecca Sutton, PhD, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group. She reviewed the report.
“These chemicals have well-established health concerns,” she says. “Obviously, there is greater danger for workers, who are exposed so much longer, day in and day out.”
However, “this is not a minor concern for consumers,” she says. Other products, such as cleaning supplies, also contain the chemicals, she says. Exposure can accumulate.
Her advice for consumers? “I might say go easy on the nail polish. Go to the salon less often.” Pregnant women might consider skipping salon visits, she says.
There are nail polishes you can trust!
We were sent the Girls Wanna Have Fun by Play Love Laugh. This nail polish is made from a fruit and vegetable base and is “as natural as it gets”. It is vegan, gluten-free and odorless! Odorless nail polish! That gets me excited! I can’t stand the smell of nail polish. It’s the first clue of its toxic ingredients.
Our NATURAL PEEL OFF NAIL POLISH is made with FRUITS & VEGETABLES, 5-FREE, KID FREINDLY [sic], GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN, NONTOXIC, ODORLESS, ECO FRIENDLY, QUICK DRYING, HAND MADE, HAND FILLED, AND ANIMAL FRIENDLY. We make our polishes with a natural mineral that is known to help nail integrity. When we use pigments, we only use nontoxic, non-FD&C pigments and there is NO alcohol, acetone, acetate, glycol ethers, or nitrocellulose. Safe for expecting moms. Our polishes are easy on, stays on, easy off without having to spend extra costs for smelly nail polish removers. And NO extra costs for top or bottom coats. Safe for puppies/doggies nails too.
We use our polishes for our children and ourselves as we care about our families’ health but still want our girls to have beautiful nails that they can play love and laugh with. And this is why we want to share our natural peel off polishes with all the women who care about their health and their daughter‘s health but still want beautiful nails.
I love that this nail polish peels off, as nail polish remover is also very toxic. I also love that they included pets in the product description. It is inevitable your little girl will want to paint the dog’s nails sometime, at least that has been our experience:)
This nail polish will last on your hands from one to seven days, depending on how much you use your hands. This may be shorter than toxic nail polishes, but I would rather reapply polish daily then be exposed to harmful to the toxic trio of dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde .
Eric Bittman says
Warren London also sells the only water based, non toxic nail polish made specifically for dogs called the Pawdicure Polish Pens which can be found at http://www.Warrenlondon.com