It’s Time for Non-Toxic Nail Polish!

News Flash, Nail polish can be toxic! Much like skin cream and makeup, studies show that the chemicals in nails can be absorbed into the body. Some of the top toxins that can cause damage include: 

  • Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde Resin – Yes, it’s the same ingredient used in embalming. It’s used for nail hardening. Formaldehyde can cause cancer (Leukemia) and skin allergies like Dermatitis.
  • Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) – This is used to help prevent chips but has been linked to developmental and reproductive issues.
  • Toluene – This liquid helps to smooth nails. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared Toluene as a human respiratory toxicant. Kind fo explains why many nail technicians wear masks, right?

Much like make up and skin care, the desire for “clean” nail polish has led to a bunch of new products. Since the definition of what is safe is not standardized by the FDA it can be challenging to find a nail polish that performs well and protects you and the planet. We have researched what’s in the market and what the claims are so here is a cheat sheet to help you navigate to a safe, clean option. 

There are so many toxins in nail polish that right now people are defining them by terms like ‘3-free’ or ‘5-free’ on polish labels. There are also 5-free, 7-free, 9-free, and even 13-free formulas out there. For that reason, its tough to recommend specific nail polishes as it depends on your level of toxins. We do however like this list from because they break down their favorites based upon the product attributes as well as prices and toxin levels.

Vegan options we like include:

  • ESSIE – Limited colors. They are 8 free and vegan.
  • OPI – Vegan in 30 shades and likely growing. OPI has long been one of my very favorites simply due to the quality as well as color ranges.

Note: If you want a cruelty free nail polish that is vegan you’ll have to verify by brand as being vegan does not guarantee that its cruelty free.

If you want a more extensive vegan product list and/or to learn more about what vegan nail polish is all about please check out this post from

In summary, nail polish can be toxic and harmful to you. Much like other beauty products its time to look for the plant based options. Its better for us and better for the world around us.

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Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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