Your Nail Polish Could Kill You

Don’t let your nail polish slowly kill your body. Here are the top 15 non-toxic brands.


I don’t know about you, but I’d rather go out in a skydiving tragedy than be put down by my nail polish. Sound dramatic? Believe it or not, your nail polish has the power to kill you, and your unborn baby. Really.

Your Nail Polish Could Kill You

Essie was proven to contain Triphenyl phosphate, N-Propyl Acetate and t-Butanol, all suspected to be harmful

If you’re a nail polish aficionado, you’ve probably heard of the “Toxic-Trio”. It refers to the three most harmful chemicals contained in most nail care products: formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate, two of which are among the over 1,300 chemicals banned from use in cosmetics in the European Union. But in the United States, where fewer than a dozen chemicals are prohibited in such products, there are no restrictions on any of these chemicals. Toluene and DBP are widely known to be developmental toxins which show many harmful effects over a period of time (including miscarriages, birth defects, impaired cognitive and kidney function, ataxia and chronic pain), while formaldehyde is established as a potent carcinogen (ie. high tendency to cause cancer).

Your Nail Polish Could Kill You

The Lies

In a recent research by the California DTSC (Department of Toxic Substance Control) involving 25 randomly chosen nail care products (like OPI, Essie, Cacie, etc.) that are sold and used in the majority of nail salons, almost all of the products that claimed their polish didn’t include toluene actually contained higher amounts of it than the products that did not make any claims at all. Brands with “toluene-free” written on the packaging were found to be flat-out lying, while five out of the seven with labels claiming being  “toxic-trio-free” were found to contain toluene or DBP, or both!

The study’s results conflicted with the claims made by the nail care manufacturers — almost all of them were lying.

In fact, toluene was found most frequently, and in higher concentrations in products with “toxic-trio” related claims than in traditional products — ten of the twelve products with “toluene-free” claims did, in fact, contain toluene. Chemicals were also detected whose purpose, property, human toxicity, and environmental fate, are unknown to DTSC, and harmful chemicals butyl acetate and ethyl acetate were present in all but one product.

Your Nail Polish Could Kill You

“In the face of growing health concerns, some polish companies have said that they have removed certain controversial chemicals from their products. But random testing of some of these products by government agencies showed the chemicals were still present. Some of the chemicals in nail products are known to cause cancer, others have been linked to abnormal fetal development, miscarriages and other harm to reproductive health. Certain cosmetic color additives — particularly a type of brilliant red — have been shown by researchers to cause [a brownish] skin discoloration. A number of studies have also found that cosmetologists — a group that includes manicurists, as well as hairdressers and makeup artists — have elevated rates of death from Hodgkin’s disease, of low birth-weight babies and of multiple myeloma, a form of cancer.” – The New York Times

Your Nail Polish Could Kill You

Women’s health and safety is simply not a priority for the American government

Keep reading to find out what brands are safe:

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 76 Comments

  1. Avatar of Chris Moris

    Chris Moris

    I will never, ever wear nail polish again! I don’t want my baby to be special or something. Avoid nail polish is not just for my future baby, but for me too.

    • Avatar of JAMES

      Opppsss! Are you gay? Wait, what? daughter? Likeee how?

    • Avatar of ariel myers

      ariel myers

      buuuuuut you’re a dud though? like how? what even? idk.

  2. Avatar of Marie


    As a mother I did some research into nail polish for my daughter. I couldn’t believe how bad mommy’s nail polish really is.
    My daughter is 2, so it needed to be extra safe, ’cause we all know kids put their hands to their mouths all-the-time.
    So I found this nail polish which should be included in your list. It’s called Bo-Po Nail Polish ( ) It has vibrant colors and it peels right off. My daughter looooooves it.
    It is water based and non-toxic. Honestly, I love doing my nails with it too.

  3. Avatar of Krysty


    You are so interesting! I do not think I’ve truly read something like this before.
    So great to find another person with a few genuine thoughts on this topic. Really.. thank you for starting this up.
    This web site is one thing that’s needed on the web, someone with a little originality!

  4. Avatar of Heather


    My mom raised me that nail polish is not a big deal for girls. Yes, Believe it or not, I never tried one. Maybe I know the reasons why.

  5. Avatar of Stephanie H

    Stephanie H

    DBP is a dangerous chemical. It shouldn’t be exposed to any human being because it can harm their health. I don’t get why they lie about this chemicals, knowing that it is dangerous.

    • Avatar of KZ Evans

      KZ Evans

      Everything is about money. And us girls love to buy things that we think can make us beautiful. Money is evil people will do everything just to have it, even if it means putting other people’s lives at risk.

  6. Avatar of Amelia Beckons

    Amelia Beckons

    The American Government should be involved in this issue. It is about women’s right and protection. The problem is, our Government is more concern about the money than citizens.

  7. Avatar of Jess Giraudel

    Jess Giraudel

    I can’t believe I’m reading an article like this. Can nail polish actually kill me? No! Are you kidding me? Lol hahaha! It’s funny, Hilary.

  8. Avatar of Kathryn Gibson

    Kathryn Gibson

    You never fail us, Hilary. This is a very helpful article, especially for us, women. I can’t believe it. Well-known companies are lying to get sales.

  9. Avatar of Blanche Martina

    Blanche Martina

    Wow. Thank you, Hilary, for making an article like this. I know that there are a lot of women who aren’t aware of this, and this could be a way to spread awareness about this issue.

    • Avatar of Monique Malick

      Monique Malick

      I agree. Hilary is such an inspiration to everyone. You are the best! More power to Urbanette! ❤

  10. Avatar of Christine Muchoe

    Christine Muchoe

    I’m throwing my nail polish from Cacie away after reading this. I don’ care if it’s unused, or not. I love my life, more that my nails. Lol

Load 10 more comments

Join in the Conversation! Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Urbanette moderates and edits comments for grammar and to facilitate an informed, substantive, civil conversation. Abusive, profane, promotional, misleading, incoherent or off-topic comments will be rejected. Please use your full name. Moderators can only approve comments written in English.

All content is strictly copyright. Contact us for permission.