Nail polish: how to beware of toxic ingredients

Having well-groomed and painted nails responds to a conventional concept of aesthetics that many women adhere to. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we have to be careful of the toxic ingredients in the polish and give the nails a break from time to time.

The market offers a wide variety of enamels, including very convenient semi-permanent, but they are among the most toxic and harmful to the nails. Speaking of the most common, none of them meet the established requirements to be a “natural cosmetic” product.

That is why it is necessary to pay attention to the components of these lacquers and to choose the least toxic ones to avoid undesirable effects on the nails and the skin.

Not only damage occurs in the direct area where the enamel is applied. Without realizing it, we touch our body with our varnished nails and it is at the level of the contact zone that a harmful effect can be generated, in particular on the mucous membranes, the eyes, the mouth, the nose, which are the most sensitive areas.

Negative consequences can also be generated by inhaling the product during its application due to the vapors that are released.


Better to avoid the following toxins

In general, we are looking for nail polishes with certain characteristics such as: easy to spread, do not run, form an even color film, dry quickly and remain more or less long. But we do not pay attention to the compounds that bring these characteristics to the product.

For nail polishes to have the characteristics we are looking for, different substances enter into their composition:

  • As the main ingredient, a solvent is needed to enable proper enamel extension.
  • In order for the lacquer to evaporate quickly and dry, toluene has been used for a long time. But due to its toxic effects, it is replaced by ethyl and butyl acetates.
  • Resins and polymers are responsible for the film formation and the fluidity of the formula. The most common is that nitrocellulose is incorporated for this purpose, which, except in isolated cases, is free of toxicity.
  • Plasticizers are used to prevent nail polish from chipping and to add shine to nails.
  • Although phthalates are still present in many products, they are being replaced by less harmful polymers.
  • Of course, color pigments are also integrated into the formulas.

If despite this, you decide to varnish your nails, you must choose a varnish with the least possible toxic ingredients, avoiding at least these three:

  • Phthalates. They cause skin allergies, respiratory problems, and when they enter the body, they can cause genetic mutations and tumor processes.
  • Formalin or formaldehyde. Over time, it stains the nails yellow. When inhaled, it is irritating to the skin and the respiratory system.
  • toluene. It acts as a solvent. Ingestion causes dizziness and vomiting. By inhalation, respiratory disorders. It can accumulate in the liver and is very irritating to the skin.

“natural” nail polish

Initially, the first modern nail polishes based their formula on the paints used for cars. A somewhat disturbing fact!

But the history of enamel goes back a long way and its formulation was healthier. The Egyptians, for example, painted their fingernails with henna; the Romans, who used plant extracts, or Chinese royalty, who wore gold dust.

The various laboratories have spent years trying to find the perfect formula.

When some manufacturers started eliminating these toxic ingredients from nail polish, they changed their labeling trying to make it look more “natural”. They started with the “3-free”. Then “5-free”, “7-free” products appeared… alluding to the elimination of other substances (gluten, ingredients of animal origin, parabens, perfumes, camphor, xylene…), but people having problems of absolute intolerance to nail polish should be avoided.

Alternatively, you can gently buff your nails with a file to give them a polish shine.

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How to remove nail polish naturally

This is another problem that is attached to the use of glazes… its removal and cleaning.

Nail polish removers are strong solvents, such as acetone, needed to remove nail polishes that are apolar organics (insoluble in water). This, in addition to drying out the nail, removes its fatty layer and that of the skin that comes into contact. It has a strong odor which can be irritating.

There are alternatives to solvents such as ethyl lactate, natural and biodegradable, which does not damage the nail and, formulated with oils such as castor oil, can protect it.

They also invented the so-called “peel of” enamels which are simply removed by hand, as if it were a layer of skin.

In general, it’s best to try to leave your nails unpainted at least two days a week so they can “breathe” and regain their health. They will naturally look better this way.

Home remedies for beautiful nails without manicure

Even if we don’t paint ourselves, our nails require constant care that will help them stay beautiful and healthy.

Nails grow slowly: fingernails take six months to fully grow and toenails about a year and a half. Therefore, any care performed must be consistent: the effects of good care will be felt over time.

  • Soak your nails in lukewarm almond oil for about ten minutes. He nourishes and strengthens them.
  • If you add a few drops of orange juice to this almond oil, you will also give them elasticity and shine.
  • To remove dead skin around the nail, you can make a small scrub using the same oil mixed with sugar.
  • To lighten nail color and remove stains, mix baking powder and lemon juice.


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