Nontoxic Nail Polishes Contain Toxins: Study

April 10, 2012 Updated: April 11, 2012

Some nail polishes that advertise themselves as being toxin-free actually contain toxins, according to a report from California, state regulators said on Tuesday.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control found that the mislabeled nail polishes have high levels of chemicals, including dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde—known as the “toxic trio”—which are known to cause birth defects. Formaldehyde is known to cause cancer.

Many of the products, the DTSC said, labeled themselves as being free of at least one of these chemicals, but still contained them. Also, some of the polishes contained ingredients that aren’t listed on their product labels.

The state investigator chose 25 brands of nail polishes at random that are available at nail salons. Ten of 12 of the products that claimed to be toluene-free were not, and four of them had elevated levels of the chemical.

The study said that there are at least 121,000 full-time nail salon workers and 284,000 cosmetologists who work with nails in California, and that the polishes potentially put them at risk of exposure to the toxins.