The best non-toxic nail polishes

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Hiya Beautiful,

You know what I love? Pretty, polished nails. You know what I don’t love? The harmful chemicals found in so many (most!) of the nail polishes in salons and on store shelves. An at-home mani-pedi or trip to your favorite progressive salon (here’s California’s list) can be so rejuvenating. But when we’re not careful about the products we choose and use, crappy ingredients, chemical-filled workplaces and horribly cruel animal testing can really rain on our beautifying parade.

There’s good news, though: Better-for-all-of-us nail polish brands exist! And today, I’m highlighting the best of the best in my newest Crazy Sexy product review: nail polish edition. With happier and healthier ingredient lists void of the scary stuff, you can breathe a non-toxic sigh of relief when you use these polishes to glam up your fingers and toes. High-five!

How Did I Choose & Rate the Products?

Selection Process

I started by asking for recommendations on safer polish brands from the hippest, wisest people I know: the KrisCarr.com community! Hundreds of you sent in your go-to brands, then I gathered my team members to compile them and share their own faves. Next we did some in-depth digging on the whole list, as well as on any other polishes on the market that met our non-toxic, cruelty-free criteria. We also aimed to include brands at a variety of price points, from total bargain to lavish splurge—something for everyone! Once we had our cream-of-the-crop list, it was time to test.

Review Results

For months, the Crazy Sexy team has been on a steady nail-painting schedule, evaluating ease of application, overall feel on the nail, staying power and more. Our goal: feature products that are safe and animal-friendly, but also simple to apply, long-wearing and beautiful! We sent off the ingredient lists of our picks to our super-smart, super-helpful friends at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to have them analyze the ingredients in the polishes. They gave each product a rating*, as they do for their Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (an invaluable resource, by the way. Be sure to check it out and save it for future reference.).

Finally, we combined our performance testing results with EWG’s ratings to create the ultimate non-toxic nail polish review! Check out the awesome infographic below for the results, and read on for further info on the ratings and criteria used.

*Note: I was bummed—but not totally surprised—that many of the polishes in our list landed in EWG’s “Moderate Hazard” category. So we chose to only include polishes rated 5 or lower, 6 being the high end of moderate (no thanks). I imagine creating a polish that looks great, lasts long and is free of weird, potentially toxic ingredients is no easy task, but I’m excited for the day that someone cracks the code on an ultra-clean, ultra-gorgeous polish formula. I know some of you will choose to avoid all polishes and show off your fingers and tootsies in their au naturale beauty, and to that I say, “Heck yeah, girl!” For those wanting to rock a colorful mani-pedi, but use safer, smarter products, these polishes are for you.

My Crazy Sexy Non-Toxic Nail Polish Review

non toxic nail polish review

Ratings & Criteria Details

EWG’s Skin Deep Rating: I’m convinced all the folks at EWG are part science whiz, part environmentalist/health enthusiast, part crazy-fantastic person. The EWG team analyzed the ingredients of every one of our polish picks. For each product, they tallied the hazard of individual ingredients, then compared the product to the rest of the database to determine its hazard score.

Animal Testing: Testing on animals? No way, Jose. All products featured in this review are from companies who have indicated they do no animal testing—whether via an independent pledge or certification through PETA or Leaping Bunny. While certification requires brands to meet a specific set of criteria (learn more about Leaping Bunny’s standards here and PETA’s here—scroll down to FAQ), a pledge is voluntary. It’s ultimately up to you on whether or not this satisfies your personal standards.

Animal Product Ingredients: The tongue-twister ingredient lists on many polishes make it difficult to be absolutely certain there are no animal products involved. That’s why we made sure to personally ask each and every company whose product is in this review—and they’re all vegan! Of course, as noted above, this is a matter of taking a brand’s word for it, so it’s your choice whether to accept it, or kick off an investigative journey (which could be fun—if you do it, let me know).

A Note on Nail Polish Removers

We’re still on the hunt for great, effective, non-toxic polish removers! We tried a boat load, and while some looked fab on paper, they were mostly “meh” in use. If you know of a safe, worthy remover, let us all know in the comments!

Now I’d love to hear from you: What’s your #1 non-toxic polish pick and why? And if you have a go-to remover, please share that, too!

Gentle Request: If you work for a beauty company, please be cool—we’re trying to keep these comments as unbiased and useful as possible. Sharing your product is welcomed and awesome. Hundreds of comments about your product and/or why you’re cranky that it wasn’t included is NOT awesome. Thank you!

Peace & polished nails,

Kris Carr