Kris Carr

Blog Post

The Best Non-Toxic Nail Polishes

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!

To make all of my product reviews as accurate and useful as possible, I always bring in one of my favorite organizations, the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

EWG is a leader in up-to-the-minute research on toxins and chemicals present in the environment and our personal and home products. Together, we’ve teamed up and created a Healthy Home Checklist and done several beauty reviews like this one, including deodorantlipstick, mascarafoundation and concealer (stay tuned for more reviews to come!).

EWG did us a huge favor by analyzing the ingredients in these nail polishes and adding the product ratings to their Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, which contains information and online safety assessments for over 60,000 products. Thanks, EWG!

Check out the awesome infographic below for the results. And for those of you who are wellness detectives like I am and want to know more about how we vet the products I recommend, read this

*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


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!

Your turn: 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,

Add a comment
  1. Tracy says:

    Hi Kris,
    I love Karma Organic polish and their remover is amazing. Smells like lavender and nourishes and moisturizers the nail as it removes the polish.

    • Maddy Bortes says:

      Thanks for posting Tracy! I’ll look into that remover. I haven’t had much luck with “alternative” ones.

    • Mindy says:

      I use & love the Karma Organics remover as well. (haven’t tried their polish yet) I buy the plain one though, not the lavender one. It works pretty good, you have to rub a little bit sometimes to get all the polish off, but it does the job with safe ingredients. 🙂

    • Anna says:

      Another vote for karma! Love it!

  2. Erika says:

    So glad you posted this, and even happier still to see that my beloved Deborah Lippmann polish past the EWG rating. The nail polish remover that is incredible is by Karma Naturals tea tree oil nail polish remover. Thanks for continuing the mission of allowing more natural and gentle products on our bodies. Is deodorant next??

  3. Birgitte says:

    Hi Kris!

    I’ve just tested out a Berlin-based nail polish brand called Treat Collection. They are 5-free, great performance and great colours. And they have an amazing soy based nail polish remover that is totally free from acetone etc, doesn’t smell anything, and it really works. You have to leave it on the nail for a little while before rubbing the polish off.
    Really worth checking out!

    Birgitte <3

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Wow…this is exactly what I needed. I am totally committed to using the purest, most natural skin care, and putting the cleanest food in my body. But I tend to slip up with some of my cosmetic picks. So happy Deborah Lippmann made the cut! Love her stuff! And I’m anxious to try some of the others.

  5. Amy says:

    Love this list. I would LOVE to see your list on shampoo and conditioners. I have teenagers and finding organic, clean S/C that work and have a good detangler is very hard to find!

  6. Becca says:

    I’m thrilled–and had no idea–that Deborah Lippmann polishes were relatively clean/nontoxic! Did you rate the Gel base and top coats, also?
    3 brands I have questions about, though:
    –RMS nail polishes are pretty new-did they not make your list because they were too new to try in time for this list, or for other reasons?
    –Scotch Naturals- what happened, did they disappear? I like their polish for my toes because it stays forever. People’s chief complaint is that it’s hard to get off, but I find that when I chip it, it’s pretty easy to scratch off with my nails, not with a tool.
    –Zoya–I have a few of these and thought they might be better rated?

    Thanks for your time!!

  7. OH and I forgot to mention, I just use a bit of coconut oil to remove the Jamberry wraps… No harsh chemicals needed!

  8. Suzanne says:

    Great list! Bummed that my beloved Zoya didn’t make the cut, I thought they were fairly clean. I appreciate all your hard work and will check out some of these brands.

  9. ANN says:

    Thanks Kris for the reviews !! I am looking forward
    to trying some of those polishes that you have listed. I do have a favorite
    nail polish remover that may be helpful.
    It is Josie Maran’s nail polish remover wipes.
    They leave my nails feeling healthy and clean
    with no harsh smells or chemicals. Hope this
    is helpful !!

    • Kris Carr says:

      Thanks for the recommendation, Ann! xo, kc

      • Becca says:

        I also use the Josie Maran nail wipes! I haven’t looked on Skin Deep yet, but the label denotes a lot (not all) of naturally sourced ingredients. I don’t think it’s ALL clean, but it’s miles better than most choices!
        It takes polish off really well (sometimes I use Vinylux and Deborah Lippmann on my hands because I pick it off quicker but it stays better than Scotch) and it will still take the Scotch polish off my toes (I only use Scotch on my toes because it’s the cleanest one I own and it stays the longest on my body), but it takes more effort to get the water-based polish off..

  10. Stephanie Warrington says:

    RMS has a new line of nail polish. It goes on really nice and the colors are great but I’m not sure how it is rated?

  11. Rachel says:

    have you tried Zoya? I love them!!!

  12. Kat says:

    What about the brand called “Butter”??? Surprised no mention! Thx!!

  13. Tammy says:

    Thanks for the list. Can you tell me whether “Jessica” nail polish was tested and where they landed on the list? I use them exclusively. They are supposed to be natural also. What about SpaRitual? Where did they end up on the list? Looking forward to learning about other products that are natural. I use Avalon Organics’ Shower Gel and Body Lotion. Love them!

  14. Bob says:

    I know there are tons of nail polish websites out there; but, I think you should give this one a very close look. The above website gives all kinds of information about the products and then points to the Etsy site where purchases can be made. Tons of great reviews.
    Thanks much!

  15. Mary Kate says:

    Hi Kris,

    I’m in love with RMS Beauty’s new nail polishes. I don’t see them on the EWG Skin Deep database yet but thought I’d recommend them! The colors are amazing and they’re very long-lasting.

  16. Cynthia says:

    Zoya is my fave! It’s on PETA’s list and the colors are beautiful.

  17. Suzanne says:

    Kris, I am so inspired by all that you do. I aspire to live a clean and healthy life and I must say you have really helped me to do that.
    I love all of your product reviews and this nail polish one is a surprise. I always thought 100% pure was lower on the toxic scale for nail polish, that was an eye opener.

    Have you ever done a hair product review, I cannot and not for lack of trying found a clean mouse or gel.

    May your Christmas be filled with lots of love, laughter and of course good health for all the years to come.


  18. Kat says:

    I recently tried Suncoat peelable nail polishes, now, I can’t say they last a long time, for me it was just a day, but at least you don’t need any polish remover, just peel it off and you’re done, no chemicals. But having to apply it every day is a bit of a pain. I ordered their non-peelable non-toxic nail polishes and their remover too, but I haven’t received those yet.

  19. mackenzie says:

    wow, i’m so happy that deborah lippmann polish made the cut! i’ve been wanting to give my nail polish an overhaul for the longest time but always assumed the alternatives would be less-than-amazing. thanks for putting this together!!!

  20. Joan says:

    Thank you so much fot tacking this subject. A while back in the NY Times there was a series of 2-3 articles re: the dangers to manicurists & their offspring. I have brittle nails & have tried doctor recommended medication that didn’t work. I have gone without polish for extended periods & that didn’t work either. I will look over your list and see if I can find the products to try. Thank you again.

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