Getting a mani-pedi is synonymous with things like pampering and self-care. But unfortunately that’s not the whole story when it comes to nail salons and the products they use (or the ones you pick up at the store and use at home). The chemicals in most polishes are more harmful than helpful to your well-being and even more-so to the lovely manicurist who spends her (or his) days beautifying nail after nail.
Today, I want to kick-off a conversation about the impact these products can have on the health of consumers and manicurists. Then, we’ll dig into what we can do to support companies making safer, cruelty-free polishes (that’s where you come in!). Yep, it’s time for another Crazy Sexy Beauty Poll: Nail Polish Edition.
You may have read the recent New York Times article, which sheds light on the health risks that can accompany earning a living while filing, polishing and buffing. This powerful piece explores the personal stories of nail salon workers and the recent case studies and medical research on their health. Although lobbyists and nail product companies say that the level of toxicity in these products is not harmful at such low levels, the increased incidence of skin and respiratory issues, abnormal fetal development, poor reproductive health, and cancer for individuals in this industry paints a different picture.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the most harmful chemicals commonly found in nail polish include (but are certainly not limited to) the following “toxic trio”:
- Toluene affects the central nervous system and can cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue. It is also a possible reproductive and developmental toxin.
- Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen that can also irritate the eyes, nose and throat and lead to skin irritation and an allergic rash called dermatitis.
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) is a developmental and reproductive toxin. Exposure can affect thyroid function, and in utero exposure is linked to reproductive problems in baby boys and decreased sperm count.
So what can we do? Choose safer products—at home AND at the salon. Heck! Bring your polish with you and talk to your manicurist about the issue. In case you’re interested in what progress looks like, California has started a non-profit that helps nail salons adopt healthier products and practices and educates consumers about where to find these smart salons.
My team and I are about to start our next deep dive and we need YOU. It’s poll time beauties!
Your turn: In the comments below, share your favorite safer nail polish brands. And yes, I’m especially interested in those with cruelty-free certification. We’ll pull together your top picks and ours, test them out, get them analyzed by EWG, and give you the results this summer. (Gentle reminder: If you work for a skincare company please don’t try and skew the votes. I’m trying to keep this as fair and unbiased as possible. Thank you! Mwah.)
Then we can all start spreading the word and supporting companies that make safe (and pretty!) products with everyone’s health in mind.