If you think painting your nails is a harmless luxury, think again! A majority of nail polish brands formulate their products with toxic compounds that are dangerous to the health! These chemicals can cause developmental disorders in children, destroy the nails permanently and even cause cancer. In today’s post, we are listing down the dangerous chemicals found in nail polishes and how to avoid them:
1. Dibutyl Phthalate or DBP
Dibutyl phthalate belongs to a group of phthalate chemicals that can affect the endocrine system and increase the risk of breast cancer. How? Phthalates are similar in structure with estrogen. When absorbed into the bloodstream, phthalate disrupts the hormonal balance in the body, putting you at greater risk of developing breast cancer. On top of that, DBP is linked to a variety of health problems including organ damage, liver damage, and early-onset menopause. It can even affect the hormonal development of male fetuses.
The European Union has banned DBP in cosmetics and personal care products while the Australian government classified this chemical as a risk to the human reproductive system. Although California classifies DBP as a reproductive and hormonal toxicant, the federal government does not recognize the chemical as a toxic compound. That’s why some American nail polish brands contain DBP to reduce chipping.
Toluene is added to nail polishes to give the formula a smooth texture and finish. This chemical is also used in nail polish removers. Because it generates irritating fumes, toluene can aggravate respiratory diseases. Worse, this chemical is linked to neurological damage, decreased brain function, impaired breathing, and hearing loss. Toluene can also cause reproductive disorders, immune system toxicity, and blood cancer.
Toluene use is restricted by the European union and advises pregnant women and children to avoid exposure to the chemical fumes.
This is a cancer-causing compound that causes skin irritation, chronic skin disorders and throat, nose, and blood cancer. Exposure to high levels of formaldehyde can cause asthma, nausea, and convulsions. It can also trigger miscarriages and abnormal fetal development in pregnant women. This chemical is used in nail polishes to improve the wear time.
The European Union only allows limited use of this chemical in personal care products. However, the Swedish and Japanese government banned formaldehyde completely.
4. Formaldehyde resin
This is a byproduct of formaldehyde that’s equally dangerous to women and developing fetus. Studies show that formaldehyde resin can cause severe allergic reaction, hyperpigmentation, sensation loss and skin irritation. It can also cause cancer.
Camphor gives nail polishes a glossy, shiny appearance. This chemical is also used in cold remedies like nasal sprays and vapor rubs. But camphor is linked to severe skin irritation and allergic reaction, especially when in contact with the skin. The fumes can trigger asthma and cause nausea, headaches and dizziness. The European Union is slowly phasing out camphor in body care products while the US limits its concentration level to 11%.
How to Choose a Safe Nail Polish
Most nail polish formulas contain either one or two of the chemicals listed above. We recommend going for nail polish brands that explicitly say they are free from these chemicals. Some nail color brands say they are free of the Big 3 (DBP, formaldehyde, and toluene) but if you can, look for those that are free of the Big 5.