Conventional nail polish can be one of the most toxic beauty products around, as many contain a host of harmful chemicals. These chemicals are especially harmful to children and pregnant women.
Problems with Nail Polish
Nail polishes often include:
- Toulene– A chemical known to cause reproductive harm and dizziness. It is also found in gasoline and the CDC warns that it can cause central nervous system problems.
- Formaldehyde– This known carcinogen is found in many nail polishes. It is also used to preserve dead things and when used in lab preparations, there are strict warnings to avoid inhalation or skin contact.
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) -This chemical is banned in Europe and is known to cause reproductive problems, especially in boys. The Environmental working group classifies this chemical as the highest danger level and warns that it can cause organ problems and endocrine disruption.
- Assorted other chemicals.
Nail polish removers are equally problematic and the fumes are especially harmful.
Are There Safe Options?
I stay far away from conventional nail polish, but with three daughters, I wanted to find some less-toxic options that they could use occasionally. Many brands claim to be safe and natural but after a lot of research, my daughters and I tested some of the top options that had a safe rating in the Environmental Working Group database.
We had great results with several of the brands we tried and some didn’t work well at all. I’ve shared our top picks below but it is important to note that even these safer options still have some chemicals in them and I wouldn’t use them all the time.
If you’ve been using conventional nail polish, I’d suggest stopping right away but please also dispose of conventional nail polish carefully. The EPA classifies nail polish as household hazardous waste and requests that it is disposed of in a proper hazardous waste disposal site. You can use this directory (in the US) to find a hazardous waste disposal site near you.
It is also important to note that nail salons typically do not use non-toxic nail polish options and that the air in nail salons is usually highly contaminated with chemicals. I suggest avoiding nail salons entirely, but if you do go to one, ask about the nail polish and removers they use and look for safer options.
Non-Toxic Nail Polish Options
These are our favorite nail polish options of all of the brands I researched and all of the ones we tried. I enlisted my daughters as testers on these since they are typically very tough on their nails.
1. Scotch Naturals
Scotch Naturals are by far my favorite of the brands I tried. The colors were great and they scored a 1/10 on the EWG database before they updated their system (I can’t find them in the new system). This brand is free of the chemicals listed above and didn’t have a strong smell.
I couldn’t find this brand locally so we ordered ours here. I found that this brand worked very much like conventional nail polish when I used their recommended base coat and top coat. The specific ones we ordered were:
Scotch Naturals is a grown-up version of the Hopscotch Kids brand, which is also a great option that is available in a lot of different colors.
Acquarella also ranked a 1/10 on the EWG database. It is definitely pricey so it isn’t one I would use regularly but it stayed on nails and didn’t have a strong chemical smell. It is available in a lot of colors and my daughters wanted all of them.
Aquarella nail polishes are water based, free of the chemicals listed above and even vegan and wheat free. They also make a non-toxic nail polish remover.
3. Honeybee Gardens
Another favorite with my tiny testers. This brand is also water-based, free of the three dangerous chemicals and has a low rating on the EWG database. It is available in 25 colors.
A great thing about Honeybee Gardens is that it can be removed with vodka or rubbing alcohol.
4. Piggy Paint
Definitely gets the award for cutest name and these were a favorite with my kids. This brand didn’t seem to stay on nails as long but that was fine with the kids since they want to change nail colors often anyway.
Piggy Paint is also one of the least expensive brands. We tried this sampler trio and it was less expensive than a single bottle of some of the other brands we tried.
Another non-toxic option with an EWG rating of 1. The interesting thing about Suncoat is that it peels off easily so no nail polish remover is even needed. This ended up being fun for the girls but it also didn’t last long on their nails since they had so much fun peeling it off.
Do you use nail polish? Have you ever looked at non-toxic options?