Non-Toxic Nail Polish

I can’t make more time in the day.  I can’t blink and have a new wardrobe.  I can’t make being a full time working mom feel any less chaotic. And I definitely can’t explain to my kids that I would like an hour to do my hair so I feel pretty.  But there’s something about having my nails painted that somehow makes me feel like I have my stuff together.  It is such a small little thing, having my nails painted, but it gives me the confidence boost I need on the craziest of days.

Unfortunately, as with others products in the beauty industry, conventional nail polish is full of chemicals that I would prefer not to absorb or breathe into my body.  Yes, chemicals from your nail polish can absolutely be absorbed into the body.  A 2015 study co-conducted by Duke University and the Environmental Working Group found chemicals commonly found in nail polish in the bodies of the volunteer participants of their study that agreed to paint their nails with selected polishes.

The Chemical Culprits

  • Formaldehyde & Formaldehyde Resin: This may help harden and strengthen your nails, but it is also a carcinogen known to cause things like cancer and asthma.  Formaldehyde Resin is a byproduct of Formaldehyde.
  • Toluene: This may help make your polish nice and smooth, but it is also toxic to breathe in and can cause neurological damage.  Toulene is on the list of restricted products in the European Union, however, it is unregulated in the US.
  • Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP): Your nails may not chip, but you may be disrupting hormones in your body.  The European Union has completely banned DBP in personal products, however, it is unregulated in the US.
  • Camphor & Xylene: Your nails may be shiny and your nail polish won’t clump, but these ingredients have been shown to trigger allergic reactions.
  • Ethyl Tosylamide: Your polish may dry quickly, but this ingredient has antibiotic properties and there is concern that it may cause antibiotic resistance. The European Union has completely banned Ehtyl Tosylamide in personal products, however, it is unregulated in the US.
  • Parabens: These preservatives may disrupt hormones in your body.
  • Triphenyl Phosphate (TPP): Your polish will be flexible and durable, but may disrupt hormones in your body and potentially cause reproductive issues.


You don’t need toxic chemicals to have beautifully polished nails.  There are plenty of easily accessible and affordable safe polishes on the market today.  Non-toxic polishes usually fall into the category of 5, 7, 8, 0r 9-free based on the harmful ingredients it does not include.  3-free polishes, free of Formaldehyde, DBP, and Toluene are also available, but I won’t spend time focused on that since I urge you to use at least 5-free.

5-Free Polish

    • My Winner: CND Vinylux  – This stuff lasts!  I got through almost a week at Disney before my nails started to chip.
    • Honorable Mentions – There are a lot of great options in the 5-free category!
      • Julep – I’m obsessed with the way this bottle looks and the available colors.  If you’re a big nail polish fan, Julep has a monthly subscription service called Maven Box where you get new colors every month! This is a great way to build up your nail polish stash at a discounted cost. Use code POLISHGIFT for a free polish set with 12 full sized polishes when you join. There is no commitment for this service and you cancel anytime.
      • Spa Ritual – This has a really nice grippable handle.
      • Zoya
      • Côte


7-Free Polish


8-Free Polish

  • My Winner: Butter
  • Honorable Mention: Smith & Cult (this bottle legitimately looks like a perfume – so beautiful)


9-Free Polish


Professional Manicures

In general, I recommend finding a natural nail salon, meaning they take care of natural nails only with polish and gel and aren’t in the business of doing acrylics.  This will put you in an environment free of toxic fumes from unnatural nail practices.  Many natural nail salons now also offer 5-free and higher nail polish choices, but you are always welcome to bring your own colors to any nail salon.

Nail Polish Remover

In my experience, if you want your polish to come off easily, you need acetone.  The concern with acetone is overdrying and skin irritation and if you’re someone that changes their polish often, the drying effects of constant acetone use can make your nails dry and brittle.  I do still use good old Cutex with acetone which now comes in a formula with aloe to help with drying.  I have not yet found a non-acetone formula that works, but Zoya does have a mild acetone formula.  I have tried it, but do not continue to purchase it because of the price.  If you’re someone that is sensitive to overdrying with acetone, this may be a formula you want to consider.  In addition to polish remover, their formula is also meant to be a nail prepper and conditioner and is designed to dispense a small amount of the formula without spilling.

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