You are perusing the nail polish aisle at your local beauty store or department store. There are so many colors to choose from. There is glitter, sparkles, shimmer, matte, extra shiny, and just about everything in between. Dozens of brands promise things like fast dry, no chip, and two weeks wear. As you are browsing through the colors, you begin to think about what is actually in those little colorful glass bottles.
From the glitter to the bright colors to that distinct dizzying smell of conventional nail polish, you begin to think this seemingly innocent polish you have probably been slathering on your nails for most of your life must not be that great for you.
If this thought has crossed your mind, you are correct. Nail polish is actually one of the most toxic beauty items you can use on your body. Conventional nail polish can contain hundreds of harmful and toxic chemicals that can do some serious damage to your nail and your body as a whole. Nail polish is particularly harmful to children and pregnant women.
Nail polish and all of the chemicals in it are easily absorbed through your nail, your skin, and then the harsh chemicals go into your bloodstream. Once the chemicals are in your bloodstream they can reach just about any part of your body.
The 10 Best Non-Toxic and Natural Nail Polishes:
Now that we know the issues with conventional nail polish and that there are much safer options out there, let’s take a peek at the 10 best non-toxic and natural nail polishes on the market!
Acquarella is a trusted and popular water-based nail polish brand that is non-toxic does not smell like nail polish and is free of anything harmful. They have a lot of fun colors, there is no base or topcoat needed, and it dries quickly. The polish is vegan and they never test their nail polish or other products on animals. There is no wheat and you can use their safe and non-toxic nail polisher remover as well.
This brand ranks a 1 score on the EWG database, which is as low as a product can be rated, meaning it is safe and contains nothing harmful.
This nail polish is also water-based, free of harsh chemicals, and ranks very low on the EWG database as well. This brand makes 25 super fun colors ranging from bright colors to the best natural and neutral colors.
What is extra cool about this nail polish is you can remove the nail polish with only rubbing alcohol or vodka, so you do not have to worry about using highly toxic nail polish removers or even buying a special natural remover as they tend to be rather pricey. The polish is gluten-free, vegan, PETA certifies, paraben-free, and non-GMO. They are also free of the twelve following chemicals:
NO: formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, camphor, formaldehyde resin, xylene, parabens, fragrance, nitrocellulose resin, animal ingredients, triphenyl phosphate or benzophenone-1.
Piggy Paint is a great option for the little ones in your life, but adults can obviously use them as well. Piggy Paint comes in super bright and fun colors to appeal to younger kids, but adults can play with the fun and funks colors as well. Since it is made for kids, the polish contains no harsh chemicals, is water-based, and virtually odorless just as all water-based nail polishes are.
Young children, pregnant women, and nursing moms can use this polish as well since it is so natural and safe. This brand also makes their own nail polish remover, cute little nail stickers, and has the most adorable packaging.
We love Suncoat and a few of the other nail polish brands on our list because they are easy to peel off options. Instead of having to remove the polish with a remover or alcohol, you can simply find a corner of the nail with the polish and peel off the color.
It is easy and mess-free, making it great for those who like to change the color of their nails a lot, don’t like to waste time wiping polish off, or just want something as hassle-free as possible.
Sophi is the adult version of Piggy Polish. It is made by the same brand and is just as safe as the version for the kiddos. What differs is the size of the bottle is bigger and the colors are a bit more refined and adult-friendly. There is no odor, is it water-based, and the color goes on smoothly and evenly.
This brand does recommend that you use the base coat and the top coat in order for the polish to last longer and so it is more durable.
Orly Breathable nail polish is a 13-free formula and the closest to traditional nail polish on this list. You will still have the nail polish odor from this polish, but it performs the closest to regular nail polish and is more resistant to chipping than water-based polishes which tend to not last as long.
Breathable is a salon-quality polish that requires no base coat or topcoat. The polish also contains argan oil, provitamin B5, and vitamin C to give you strong and healthy nails. Their 13-free formula prohibits the use of:
Toluene, Formaldehyde, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, Ethyl Tosylamide, Xylene, Triphenyl Phosphate (TPP), MEHQ/HQ, MIT, Parabens, Animal Derived Ingredients or Gluten.
This is a water-based nail polish, but it also long-lasting and free from harsh chemicals and additives. It claims it can last seven days or more, which is much more than other natural and non-toxic nail polish options. This awesome brand is actually 18-free, making it free of even more chemicals than most other brands as well.
The formula goes on smoothly, it comes in fun colors and can be easily removed with a healthier remover or alcohol.
Water-based, fast-drying, and no smell at all, Little Ondine is another great non-toxic option for anyone. It is also a peel-off polish option for quick, easy, and simple removal. This brand is 13-free and cruelty-free. They claim that with their base coat and their topcoat the polish can last a good five days without chipping or peeling.
They suggest not getting your nails and fingers wet after you paint them for at least four hours, otherwise you risk the color peeling off and chipping prematurely.
With an EWG rating of 2 and a 100% biodegradable formula, it is a great non-toxic option that is also gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO. This polish will do no harm or damage to your nails and is safe for your body as a whole. Regular nail polish is considered toxic waste and should never be thrown away in your trash due to environmental concerns.
However, since this option is biodegradable it is also completely safe for the planet as well! It is a true win-win situation, so you can feel confident in using this natural and safe product.
10. UNT Cosmetics Peelable Non-Toxic Nail Polish
Last but certainly not least, UNT Peelable nail polish is, of course, a peel-off polish. It comes in many colorful, rich, and vibrant shades, so there is a little something for everyone to love. This nail polish is safe for both women who are pregnant and for small children.
Water-based and odorless, this makes for a safe option that never leaves any color residue on your nails. It will also not turn your nails that ugly green-yellow color you often get from conventional nail polishes when they are used too often and left on too long.
The Worst Ingredients in Nail Polish
Since there can be hundreds of toxic chemicals in conventional nail polish we could not possibly list and discuss all of them. However, we have picked a few of the worst and most dangerous chemicals in conventional nail polish to explore further.
Toluene is a chemical that is commonly used in nail polish and is also an ingredient found in gasoline. It can cause a host of issues in the body such as dizziness, central nervous system issues, and reproductive harm. Although no one should use this chemical on their fingers, it is especially imperative pregnant women do not use products with this ingredient to ensure the safety of their unborn baby.
Formaldehyde is also found in nail polish. This ingredient is a known human carcinogen, which means it is known to cause cancer in the human population. If you think you recognize this ingredient as the same thing they use to preserve dead bodies and other things like brains and hearts in labs, you are right. Who would want to willingly put that on and into their bodies?
Formaldehyde is strictly said to never be inhaled or allowed to come in contact with the skin, yet the FDA allows millions of people to breathe in nail polish fumes and get polish all over their nails and finger skin.
Another common nail polish ingredient is dibutyl phthalate or DBP. This chemical can cause reproductive harm, organic problems, and is also an endocrine disruptor. DBP has been banned in Europe but is still used in the United States without strict regulations. The EWG (environmental working group) classifies this chemical at the highest rating for toxicity.
Camphor is used in nail polish because it is what gives the polish that distinct shiny and glossy appearance. Although we all love that glossy brilliant finish, this ingredient can cause severe skin irritation and bad allergic reactions in many people, especially those with sensitive skin. When camphor is inhaled, which is easy to do when painting your nails, it can make you become nauseous, dizzy, and give you a bad headache. While camphor is a powder that comes from wood bark from the camphor tree, the ingredient used in nail polish is synthetically made in a lab.
Are There Safe Nail Polish Alternatives?
Luckily, there are safe nail polish alternatives, but not all are created equal. There are brands that claim they are more natural and healthy but can still contain heaps of harmful chemicals.
Nail polishes often say they are 5-free, 7-free, 10-free, and even 13-free, which means that do not contain five, thirteen, etc. of the most common harmful chemicals found in conventional nail polishes. While these are okay options that are a bit safer than polishes that do not limit some of the chemicals in their formulas, there are still better options. Of course, going with a 13-free formula is the best option because it contains fewer chemicals than a 5-free option.
Even better yet, there are nail polishes that are super safe to use, even for children and pregnant women. When looking for a truly safe and non-toxic option, water-based formulas that are chemical-free and do not have any smell are the best options.
When at home or at the nail salon, you should avoid conventional nail polish, nail polish remover, and any other conventional nail products to save your nails and your overall health. Nail polish is one of the most toxic products you can use, and the health risks associated with it are simply not worth it.
Investing in healthier and safer alternatives is easy. You don’t have to give up nail polish forever once you decide to no longer use the conventional version. Any of the above options are safe, healthy, and gorgeous options that you can feel good about using on yourself, your kids, and other family members and friends.
This article was last updated on December 1, 2022 .