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How toxic is your nailpolish?

04 June 2012, 12:36

It may look pretty, but the unmistakable odour of nail polish betrays a cocktail of toxic ingredients.

That shiny red colour flaunting all of its shiny glory on your painted nails might add a flash of style to your fingers, but it's wreaking havoc on the environment – and your health.

You're no eco-dummy. You don't need to do a lick of research to know that a product that comes in every hue of the rainbow – and then some – is anything but natural. What makes that glossy nail polish so eye-catching, shiny and able to stick to your nails for days? A slew of chemicals, of course. Do you know just how much bad stuff that one teeny nail polish bottle holds?

Up until recently, most conventional nail polishes found on store shelves offered up a noxious ingredient list of substances including the "toxic trio":

•    Formaldehyde. This is the same stuff used to preserve dead things. It is a known human carcinogen and can also cause eye, throat, nose and skin irritation.

•    Toluene. This is a possible reproductive and developmental toxin and can also cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue.

•    Dibutyl phthalate. DBP is a known reproductive and developmental toxin.

All of these chemicals can be absorbed into the body through the nail bed.

Feel like swiping on a coat of polish now?

Unlike the European Union, which banned companies from using DBP in 2005, the United States doesn't restrict this chemical in beauty products.

One company which phased out those nasty chemicals from their formulas is Top Top Nailpolish. They also removed Camphor which has toxic effects on the human body and has been found to irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. It is associated with dizziness, confusion, nausea and twitching muscles.

All the above-mentioned toxins are readily absorbed through body tissues. These toxic substances may be more limited than in the past, but they still sneak into main stream nail polishes – so check your labels! 

The harmful compounds in nail polishes put more than your health at risk.

When tossed into the trash they can leech their toxicity into the soil and groundwater. That's quite an environmental price for stylish nails. Think about it. You wouldn't throw house paint into the garbage. And conventional nail polishes are just paint after all.

Many cities' household hazardous waste departments list nail polishes as one of the, well, hazardous waste products accepted at their facilities. That means nail polishes sit right up there on the same unfriendly scale as car batteries and insecticides. Pretty scary, huh?

So, what's an eco-beauty queen with a love for colourful digits to do? Look for companies that offer nail polishes formulated without harmful chemicals by checking their labels!

- Women24


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