3 Good Reasons to Change Your Nail Polish

BY Andrea Donsky TIMEMay 23, 2014 PRINT

Nail polish is a luxury that some women can’t live without. While some choose to glam it up in today’s world, it’s a kind of tribal decoration that undoubtedly once carried a lot more significance than we give it credit for. However those natural dyes and resins our ancestors once used to color themselves with have been replaced by harsh chemicals.

Think your nail polish is safe and just a harmless indulgence? Guess again. Check out some of these ingredients that could be in your favorite nail polish.

1. Formaldehyde: You’re probably most familiar with this ingredient. It’s used in the embalming of the deceased, but unfortunately it can also be found in quite a few cosmetic products, especially nail polish. On the acute side, it can cause irritation to the skin, nose, eyes and throat. However on the severe side, it can also cause cancer. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has campaigned against the biggest nail polish brands urging them to remove formaldehyde and the two ingredients below which together, are dubbed the “toxic trio”. However companies will often remove one or the other, not necessarily all three.

2. Toluene: Considered a “possible” reproductive and developmental toxin, toluene can also lead to severe headaches, dizziness and fatigue. It’s common in household paints and the chemical benzene which makes plastic and synthetic fibers. It can damage the kidneys, nervous system, liver, brain and heart.

3. Dibutlyl phthalate (DBP): This chemical has been banned in Europe since 2005 but there aren’t any restrictions on it here in the U.S. It’s a known reproductive and developmental toxin and your body can absorb those toxins through your nails.

So, now you probably want to get that polish off of your nails, right? Don’t leap for the nail polish remover just yet as the main ingredient is acetone. Acetone can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. It can lead to headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. It may cause kidney damage, abdominal pain and low blood pressure.

You can always seek out healthier nail polish and removers which in turn would be more safe. Check with your local natural food or beauty care store for options, and always read the ingredient labels. If you are like me and you like wearing nail polish, you can also check out Jamberry Nails. I recently discovered them at my son’s school fun fair and I fell in love with them! The company was started by three sisters in Utah who wanted to have nice nails but didn’t want any of the chemicals normally found in conventional nail polish. Jamberry nails are wraps that you apply directly to your nails using only heat. They have 350 different styles for both adults and kids. You can see what they look like here.

This article was originally published on

*Image of “red nail polish” via Shutterstock

Andrea Donsky, who holds a bachelor of commerce, is an international TV health expert, best selling author, and founder of—a recipient of Healthline’s Best Healthy Living Blogs for 2019. This article was originally published on
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