4 Dangerous Chemicals Hiding in Your Favorite Nail Polish

Having pretty, polished nails is a simple pleasure that many enjoy. What you may not know, however, is that your nail polish might contain substances that pose health risks.

Dangerous toxins can be found in many polishes. Exposure to these toxins, especially frequent exposure, is a concerning issue.

4 Dangerous Chemicals Found in Nail Polish

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To learn more about what might be lingering in that little polish bottle, read on.

1. Toluene

Toluene is added to polish for smoother application and a slick finish. You may recognize its strong, sweet smell. It is also used in most nail polish removers. Don’t let that smell fool you. Toluene’s fumes are extremely toxic.

Studies suggest that toluene exposure may cause:

  • Nausea
  • Hearing loss
  • Breathing problems
  • Cancers of the blood
  • Immune system toxin overload
  • Reproductive harm and impairment
  • Reduced brain function and neurological damage
  • Impaired fetal development in frequently-exposed pregnant women

This common additive should be avoided, especially by pregnant women, younger children, and those who are immune compromised.

2. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde, made naturally in our body in very small amounts, is frequently used in nail polish products. The amount in these polishes is far greater than the amount we produce.

Formaldehyde is used as a hardening and strengthening agent in polish. It also prevents bacterial growth.

Exposure to large amounts of formaldehyde can be dangerous. It may lead to certain types of cancer and chronic lung problems, and may possibly cause miscarriages. Those frequently exposed to formaldehyde on their skin or in the air are at the greatest risk.

3. Formaldehyde Resin

This formaldehyde byproduct has been shown to cause a number of alarming reactions, including:

  • Loss of skin pigment
  • Loss of nerve sensation
  • Allergic reactions and severe skin irritation

Formaldehyde resin hasn’t been studied as extensively as other chemicals, but early studies suggest it should be avoided.

4. Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)

Dibutyl phthalate is a nail polish ingredient that is added to reduce chipping. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors that have the potential to wreak havoc on your hormones.

These disruptors mimic estrogen and have been linked to reproductive problems, impaired hormonal development of males in utero, early-onset menopause, organ damage, and many other conditions.

How Can You Use Nail Polish Safely?

Many polishes on the market will contain these toxic chemicals. Every time you polish, you risk absorbing them through your skin and from the air. Fortunately, there are ways to have polished nails that are less risky.

Non Toxic Nail Polish

There are water-based and nontoxic nail polishes that are free from chemical offenders. Choosing these policies eliminates exposure risk completely.

Choose Your Salon Wisely

If you still want to have your nails done at a salon, make sure you choose one that makes client safety a priority.

Salons that provide adequate ventilation and those that offer non-toxic polish options are best.

Give Your Nails a Break

Leave your nails exposed and unpolished for a few days (at least) each month as part of your nail care routine. This will not only reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals, but it will also let your nails air out and reduce your chance of a fungal infection. Nails are porous and it is beneficial to allow them proper air circulation.

Polish Wisely

Always be informed and aware when it comes to choosing a polish that won’t be harmful. When you know you will be potentially exposed to these chemicals, make sure you have got adequate ventilation.

Kirsty Wark

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