The Truth About Non-Toxic Nail Polish, Plus the Best Alternative for Put Together Nails

New non-toxic nail polish formulations have popped up everywhere. It seems like every other day there’s a new brand launching its version of safe and toxin-free nail polish. But are these products safer than the existing options? And if not, why don’t we just continue using them? First things first: Yes, non-toxic nail polish does contain fewer chemicals and shouldn’t irritate your skin or nails as much as conventional formulas. But is this enough to justify switching your current favorite brands for new versions that contain all sorts of weird ingredients like acai berry, camellia oil, and quinoa protein? Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know to make an informed decision on whether or not to use non-toxic nail polish.

What is Non-Toxic Nail Polish?

The term “non-toxic nail polish” is an umbrella term for nail polish that is formulated without certain ingredients that may be toxic and harmful to the skin and nails. Unlike conventional nail polish, non-toxic formulas aren’t formulated with formaldehyde, DBP, toluene, or camphor. All three of these chemicals have been known to cause skin irritation, and allergic reactions, and pose certain health risks when you’re exposed to them over time.

Toxic Ingredients to be Aware of in Nail Polish

Formaldehyde – This chemical is used as a preservative in many conventional nail polish formulas and is also used as a denture fixative. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen and is linked to a range of health issues, such as respiratory problems, skin irritation, and contact dermatitis.

DBP – This is a chemical used to extend the shelf life of nail polish and prevent it from becoming too thick or viscous. It’s estimated that around 35% of nail polish formulas include this chemical, which has been linked to reproductive and developmental issues, as well as increased risk of certain cancers.

Toluene – This is an aromatic solvent that is often used as a solvent, stabilizer, and thickening agent in nail polish. It’s also toxic to the reproductive, respiratory, and central nervous systems, resulting in several long-term health issues if exposed to it for a prolonged period.

Camphor – This is a chemical that is used as a solvent, preservative, and surfactant in nail polish. It’s toxic to the skin and respiratory system and can cause irritation, blurry vision, numbness, seizures, and even death if ingested.

The problem with non-toxic nail polish

While non-toxic formulas don’t feature the three chemicals listed above, they often contain other toxic ingredients that are just as bad for you as the original formulas! This is because non-toxic nail polish has been created to be as close to a conventional formula as possible, but with only a few harmful ingredients removed. So while non-toxic nail polish may be free of the three toxic ingredients listed above, it still contains a whole slew of other chemicals that can be just as harmful, if not more so.

The main issue with non-toxic nail polish is that it often contains formaldehyde resin, which can be just as bad (if not worse) than the traditional formaldehyde used in conventional formulas. Formaldehyde resin is also a known carcinogen, and breathing it in has been associated with a range of health issues including headaches/migraines, nausea, cognitive difficulties, and asthma.

The Best Alternative: Mineral-Based Nail Polish

If you’re looking for a genuinely non-toxic nail polish that doesn’t have any of the harmful ingredients listed above, your best bet is to go for mineral-based nail polish. Mineral-based formulas can be very similar to conventional nail polish in terms of their appearance and application, but they feature ingredients like silica and titanium dioxide (which are found in sunscreen) to create a protective barrier on your nails.

This means that mineral-based nail polish is non-toxic and doesn’t feature any of the harmful chemicals that conventional nail polish does. It’s important to note that mineral-based nail polish doesn’t contain any minerals like iron or copper, it’s just called that because of the ingredients used to make it look like it does.


Non-toxic nail polish does contain fewer harmful ingredients than conventional nail polish. However, it’s important to note that it still contains many other potentially harmful chemicals that mineral-based formulas don’t. Instead, mineral-based formulas are genuinely non-toxic and don’t feature any of the harmful ingredients found in conventional formulas.

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