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Ever since trying to live a more non-toxic cosmetic and skincare life, I have been paying more attention to my nail polish too. Ideally, I would have nontoxic nail polish too. I have heard about 5 free, 7 free, and more. But… what does it all mean?
5 FREE is free of the following:
- formaldehyde (a known carcinogen, possibly causing cancer of the nose, throat, and blood; workers are especially at risk for chronic conditions and miscarriages)
- dibutyl phthalate (could have harmful developmental and reproductive effects; banned in the EU)
- toluene (a known human respiratory toxicant; maybe developmental effects; a paint thinner made from petroleum or tar)
- formaldehyde resin (organ system toxicant, skin irritation)
- camphor (skin irritation and allergic reactions, and inhaling its fumes can cause nausea, dizziness, and headaches; possible liver damage)
Note: starting in 2006, most national brands are “3-free” (free of formaldehyde, dibutyl phtalate, and toluene) but apparently some independent tests have shown that they might not actually be free of these toxic substances. And these ingredients are all legal (in limited quantities) in nail polishes in the US, as documented here.
Disclaimer: Some of the following links are affiliate links. After doing the research I think the nail polishes listed below are safer choices than a lot our there. I haven’t personally tried them for performance. I hope this information benefits you. If you do purchase through these links I will get a teeny tiny bit of money which helps maintain this site and keeps good info coming to you!
Some 5 FREE brands
The following brands are considered more nontoxic nail polishes than others. They are free of the 5 main toxins.
- Deborah Lippman
- Priti NYC (also free of xylene so that makes it 6 FREE)
- Some OPI formulations
More toxic ingredients eliminated
Some nontoxic nail polish brands go further than 5 free. I have seen conflicting reports on what 7 FREE and beyond might mean, but these seem to be the next toxins that are eliminated.
- ethyl tosylamide (This is banned in the EU; scores a 3 in the EWG; it is in a family of antibiotics and banned to mitigate the problem of antibiotic resistance.)
- Triphenyl Phosphate (TPHP) (suspected endocrine disruptor)
- xylene (skin and respiratory irritant)
7 FREE, 8 FREE, 9 FREE, 10 FREE
These nontoxic nail polishes went beyond the 5 Free, to eliminate more toxins.
- Ella + Milla (avoids the 5, plus TPHP and xylene)
- Butter London (avoids the 5, plus ethyl tosylamide, TPHP and xylene)
- 100% Pure ( Avoids the 5, plus xylene, parabens, fragrances, phthalates and animal ingredients.
- Piggy Paint (avoids all of the of the above)
- LVX (Avoids the 5, plus xylene, and parabens)
- Scotch Naturals (appears to avoid all of the above… currently totally out of stock and is relaunching Spring of 2017)
- Pacifica (avoids the 5, plus xylene and parabens)
In the stores…
Of course all nontoxic nail polishes are available online on their individual websites and other beauty websites. But when you are in an actual store, it can be frustrating trying to find the best nontoxic nail polish. This is what I found in my area.
Ulta: Pacifica, Butter London
Target: Target has its own exclusive brand called Defy & Expire that is 5 Free.
I hope this helps you find a nontoxic nail polish that works for you. If you know of one I have left off please contact me!
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