Non-Toxic Nail Polish Brands


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:

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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. Hazel Collins

    yes we need this kind of article! a very informative and helpful one. Whenever i am cleaning my nails i’m not applying nail polish on my nails because i know that it will make my nails yellow and unhealthy if i will always use it. I’ve also noticed it on some of my gal friends. maybe the most essential tip to those who are always patronizing nail polish is to look first for the ingredients before buying it. too bad they have beautiful colors but i’d rather have simple and plain nails.

  2. Nicole Derseweh

    Well, it pays to be beautiful. But I would say I love Butter Nail Polish for my DIY manicure (and pedicure).

  3. Hannah Mayers

    Great! This article revealed a lot of “nail polish” secrets. That’s why, as much as I can, I avoid applying nail polish.

  4. Wow! Hidden risks in nail polish?! This is very alarming but thanks for the information. I’ll be on the lookout for these dangerous chemicals next time I shop for my nail polish. Great article!

  5. Butter Nail Polish is one of my favorite products for DIY manicures. Thanks for this article, I will be on the lookout for better nail polish alternatives 🙂

  6. I didn't think the bright green nail polish I got for my birthday could get more dangerous than the color! Thanks for this article 🙂

  7. Jen Spillane

    Very informative! I've been wondering about toxins in my nail polish. Thank you!

  8. Ansley Barrington

    I love Butter polishes, I can't leave Ulta without scooping up one or two! Sometimes I swear you can just smell the harmful chemicals in the pungent scents of nail polishes. "Seche Vite," a popular topcoat, is known to cause birth defects so steer clear of that one too.

  9. Courtney Watson

    It’s good to know that alternatives are available. We love applying colors to our nails, little do we know about the dangers of toxic nail polish.

  10. Sandra Brown

    That’s why I don’t trust really cheap nail polish. It’s obvious, really cheap nail polish are substandard or have too many harmful/ toxic ingredients.

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