Top Alternatives to Toxic Products: Nail Polish and Remover

Did you know that nail polish is considered hazardous waste?

Nail coloring has been around for centuries and has been practiced by many cultures. But today's nail polish contains dangerous chemicals such as toulene, phthalates, and formaldehyde. Your nails are not impenetrable barriers, like skin, they are sponges that breath. Chemicals painted on your nails can easily be absorbed into your body.

Here are the top 3 toxic ingredients commonly found in nail polish:
  • Toulene, a solvent, can cause tiredness, confusion, memory loss, nausea, loss of appetite, and hearing and color vision loss when inhaled.
  • Dibutyl phthalate, a plasticizer that prevents nail polish chipping. Also a hormone disruptor that has been linked to reproductive system disorders. This chemical is banned in all personal care products in Europe. In the US, some nail polish manufactures started eliminating it from their formulas. Be sure to check labels for this and other phthalates. 
  • Formaldehyde, commonly found in nail hardeners and a known carcinogen. The EPA allows no more than 0.1 parts per million in the air of new homes, but nail products can have more than 20,000 times that (0.2%).


Chemicals can be absorbed through nails, and also breathed in during application and drying, and stored in fatty tissue in the body, such as the breasts. Nail salon workers are especially at risk.

Nail polish remover is another toxic mix. The most common nail polish remover is acetone based. Acetone is a harsh solvent, and can cause dry and brittle nails. A good alternative is this soy based remover from Karma Organics.

Here are some practical tips for healthy nails while minimizing health risks:
  • Go without nail polish, and just keep nails manicured and clean. Especially if you are pregnant or have young children.
  • If you do use nail polish, choose a water based one, such as Honey Bee Gardens or Suncoat. For non-toxic long lasting polish, try Karma Organics.
  • Limit your visits to nail salons, just being there may expose you to toxic fumes.
  • If you do go to nail salons, BYOP - Bring your own nail polish, so you can control what goes on your nails.
  • Use a gentle nail polish remover, such as the organic lavender nail polish remover by Karma Organics. It will be a little slower than acetone based removers, but it's well worth it, because there's no toxic fumes and leaves nails shiny and moisturized. 
 Watch the video to see it in action:  

What are your suggestions for maintaining healthy nails naturally? Leave a comment!


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  9. This nail remover is very inexpensive and works better than any high end removers I have tried. It totally strips off the colour in one swipe and leaves a nourishing and satin feel to your nails. When I use this I tend to get one cotton wool pad and dampen that with the product and that is it www.gadecosmetics.se

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  10. I buy non toxic nail polish for my daughters and am pleased. When they insist on polishing their nails in the car, I don’t have to roll down the windows because it barely has an odor. 🙂 They have a good color selection for my teen & pre-teen. We also use the polish remover. I may try some of the other brands listed in the article when I get a chance.

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