Non-Toxic Nail Polish Guide

What potential health hazards are lurking in your nail polish?

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| July 11th, 2011

Your safest option is to try to keep newly painted nails out of direct sunlight (also good for your skin!) and, if you do anticipate lots of sun exposure, opt for a pale color that won’t fade as noticeably as more vibrant shades.

Camphor = potential irritant that’s totally pointless to have in polish
Why on earth would the same skin-tingling, mint-smelling ingredient used in muscle rubs need to be in your polish? Some nail polish manufacturers are wondering the same exact thing. While some forms are naturally derived from plants, some camphor is produced synthetically from turpentine oil, a harmful and toxic ingredient. Although experts say that the levels found in polish are nowhere near the high amounts that have been studied and linked to negative health effects, “it’s not necessary to have in polishes in any way,” explains Burnes. “So, why risk it?”

MORE: Six Signs of a Sketchy Nail Salon

Methanol = a chemical found in some non-acetone polish removers
Recently, there’s been industry buzz on low-levels of methanol being found in non-acetone polishes—and concern that exposure to this ingredient can have negative effects similar to that of acetone (i.e. dizziness, nausea, headaches, etc.).

However, some experts argue that there’s little to worry about because there’s little evidence that trace amounts of methanol are harmful. “Typically, non-acetone nail polish removers are formulated using ethyl acetate, an organic compound that’s formed by reacting ethyl alcohol (ethanol) with acetic acid, in a process called etherification,” explains Hammer. “As a result, sometimes there are trace amounts of ethanol present, but no methanol is used in this process, and methanol is not intentionally added as an ingredient.”

In other words, if any methanol is present in a acetone-free nail polish remover, it must be at extremely low levels, probably parts per billion. “You can find levels higher than that naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables,” says Hammer.

CONTINUE READING: The Best Non-Toxic Nail Polishes

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