10 best nontoxic nail polishes of 2021

June 04, 2021 2 min read

10 best nontoxic nail polishes of 2021

Give yourself a healthier, good-for-you manicure this season.

Woman texting on her phone with green pastel nail polish

If you’ve been paying attention to the clean beauty movement, you’ll know that brands have steadily been incorporating more ethical practices and streamlined ingredients to their products. However, different brands have different standards and ingredients they use to define “clean.”

Some of these brands choose to leave out ingredients banned by the European Union, which has stricter cosmetics regulations than the United States. Others leave out ingredients that can be harmful when inhaled. The jury is out on whether each of these chemicals can have long-term health effects. But since your body can absorb chemicals through your nail bed, you may want to take a second look at the ingredients in your polish collection.


What does it mean to be a "clean" nail polish?


Some phrases might initially jump out at you when you’re shopping for nontoxic nail polish for the first time. To help you get better acquainted, here's a glossary on the most common terms you should know:

  • 3-free indicates that a product is made without the three most toxic chemicals most often found in traditional nail polishes: formaldehyde (an ingredient that prevents polish chipping but is a potential carcinogen); toluene (a polish solvent that may also be a neurotoxin); and dibutyl phthalate (a chemical that makes polish flexible and chip-free, but is banned by the EU for possible reproductive harm).
  • 7-free polishes don't contain the "toxic trio," along with controversial additives like formaldehyde resin (which forms a strong coating on your nails but could cause respiratory issues); camphor (a chemical that creates a glossy sheen but could cause headaches or dizziness); ethyl tosylamide (which acts as a film former but is also banned in the EU for being antibiotic resistant); and xylene (an ingredient which thins out nail polish that could cause damage to the central nervous system).
  • 10-free polish not only exclude the harmful chemicals mentioned above, bur they also leave out parabens (preservatives that prevent bacteria growth but can mimic estrogen in the body, causing reproductive harm) along with tert-butyl hydroperoxide (which aids in the plasticization process and can be toxic if it enters your bloodstream) and animal by-products from their formulas.....

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