Is Toenail Polish Bad for Your Nails?

01 Nov Is Toenail Polish Bad for Your Nails?

About Toenail Polish

Getting a pedicure can make your feet look and feel wonderful. Painting your toenails in assorted colors is a fun, fashionable way to show off your healthy toes, but could that nail polish be harming your health?

Solvents and Synthetics

Consumers have become aware of the harmful ingredients lurking in their favorite foods and cosmetics. They want alternatives to harsh synthetics that might damage their health. Companies have responded by introducing formulas that leave out harmful irritants.

Most nail polish is solvent-based. If you’re using it regularly, it’s helpful to know what is in it.

Are the Ingredients in Nail Polish Safe for Toes?

Most of the standard nail polish ingredients are safe for human use. There are three, however, that some natural health experts call the “toxic trio.”

  • Toluene: This common nail polish ingredient is a paint thinner often used to make glue. It’s the same ingredient used as an inhalant by people who want to get high. If you’ve noticed nail polishes advertising themselves as “toluene-free,” that is in response to fears about this ingredient. It’s important to note, however, that the levels of toluene in nail polish is much lower than the levels considered safe for human exposure.
  • Formaldehyde: This ingredient is in many cosmetics and hair care products. Low levels of formaldehyde exist in some foods, including fruits and vegetables. In high doses, it can be highly toxic to humans, which is why the Food and Drug Administration regulates its use in nail polish.
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP): This ingredient is added to give products a liquid consistency. Short-term exposure has shown effects that include nausea, rashes, dry throat and skin irritation.

These are not the only ingredients that concern researchers. A study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Duke University found that the troubling ingredient in nail polish is triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), a hormone disruptor that’s easily absorbed through the nail bed.

So Should You Stop Using Polish on Your Toes?

No, there’s no need to stop unless you experience negative symptoms from your polish. Toxicity depends on dosage, and the levels of these toxins are low enough that they’re safe for occasional use.

If you work in a nail salon or use nail polish daily, however, you may be at risk. Always use good ventilation and avoid using polish on broken skin.

Are There Safe Alternatives?

If you don’t want to give up the fun of painting your toenails, try an organic alternative to traditional, solvent-based polish. Here are some companies that sell chemical-free nail polish.

Ella+Mila: This cosmetics company makes high-end cosmetics that are vegan and cruelty-free. Their nail polish line is “17-free,” which means it’s free of acetone, formaldehyde, toluene, TPHP and many other toxic ingredients. It comes in dozens of high-fashion colors.

Pacifica Cosmetics: This company’s vegan, cruelty-free Plant Magic polishes are made from water and natural ceramics. They claim to be “16 free,” meaning they have no formaldehyde, phosphates, bisphenol A (BPA) toluene, or other potential toxins. The polish is available in 21 fashionable shades.

Piggy Paint: This company makes natural, water-based nail polish for children, so it’s an excellent choice if your kids want to paint their toes and fingernails. The selections include bright, glittery colors and a nail sticker set. Because it’s water-based, it takes several hours for the paint to cure. It is vegan, cruelty-free and easy to remove with rubbing alcohol.

Healthy Toes Are Happy Toes

Painting your toenails is fun, and it’s normally safe to do. If you want to avoid using toxins and solvents, however, there are some good, all-natural alternatives available. If you have any questions about toenail health, contact Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine.

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