SUMMER IS HERE!!!! It is that beautiful, warm, sunny time of year when you get to toss your warm coats and heavy layers in exchange for sun dresses and sandals!
One of the first things I do, even before laying out in the sun to get a tan, is I reach for my favorite nail polish and give myself a quick pedicure. I love color and have always had so much fun trying all different kinds of nail polish colors and finishes. Hot pink, light pink, ruby red, and French tips have always been my favorite.
What came as a big shock to me was when I began to learn about how dangerous and toxic commercial nail polishes actually is. Of course, I was aware of the strong chemical smell that would engulf me every time I unscrewed the lid to my favorite polish. However, because me and my mom and my mom’s mom have done our nails for as long as I can remember, it’s such a familiar second-nature smell for me. I never thought twice about it.
Nonetheless, whether it’s perfectly normal or not, it’s dangerous. It’s time we as women all came to grips with this fact, as uncomfortable as it may be. That is, if we care to live a long and healthy life and pass on the gift of health to others.
This hits home for me as I am a mother myself and want my children to be healthy. I definitely don’t want to be responsible for exposing them to some of the worst most dangerous chemicals at the sake of me wanting my nails to look pretty.
What’s in Commercial Nail Polish that so Dangerous?
If you pick up any old nail polish in your local drug store, you will most likely see a list of hard to pronounce ingredients. Of I should rather say, chemicals.
Here is a list of the top four most common chemicals you will find in most conventional nail polishes:
I. Triphenyl Phosphate (aka. TPHP or TPP):
TPHP is a common plasticizer chemical found in most commercial nail polishes on the market. There is growing evidence in scientific studies that this chemical is an endocrine disrupter. This means that it could have devastating effects on your hormones, metabolism, reproduction and development. (1) (2)
To make you more unsettled, TPHP is also used in plastics manufacturing and as a fire retardant in foam furniture. (3)
II. Dibutyl Phthalate
Dibutyl Phthalate is another endocrine disrupter. It also a developmental and reproductive toxicant, an respiratory system organ toxicant, and poses a high concern for causing cancer. (4) This chemical can be found not only in most nail polishes but in perfumes, hair sprays and deodorants. (5)
Toluene is a neurotoxicant that is often used as a paint thinner and petrochemical solvent. It can cause impaired breathing and nausea and acts as an irritant. Pregnant women should especially avoid products with Toluene as the vapors could cause developmental damage to the baby. In animal studies, Toluene has also shown to be toxic to the immune system and a possible cause of blood cancer such as malignant lymphoma. (6)
IV. Formaldehyde & Formaldehyde Resin
Formaldehyde is carcinogenic to humans which means it can cause cancer. In occupational exposures, formaldehyde has been linked to nasal and nasopharyngeal cancer. In animal studies, formaldehyde in the the drinking water has been linked to stomach and gastrointestinal cancer and leukemia. (7)
In Europe, it is illegal to have more than 0.2 % of Formaldehyde in a personal care products and ALL products containing Formaldehyde are required to list ‘contains Formaldehyde’ it on the item. (8) However, the United States has no set regulations for the amount of Formaldehyde that can be added to personal care products. Nor is it required to list it as an ingredient if/when it is present. (9)
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2. Belcher, Scott M., et al. “In vitro assessment of human nuclear hormone receptor activity and cytotoxicity of the flame retardant mixture FM 550 and its triarylphosphate and brominated components.” Toxicology letters 228.2 (2014): 93-102.
3. Butt, Craig M., et al. “Metabolites of organophosphate flame retardants and 2-ethylhexyl tetrabromobenzoate in urine from paired mothers and toddlers.” Environmental science & technology 48.17 (2014): 10432-10438.
7. NTP (National Toxicology Program). 2005. Report on Carcinogens, Eleventh Edition; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Toxicology Program.