At my last salon visit, I was asked by several women whether I wanted to upgrade to a signature pedicure, if I could use a 10 minute back massage and if I wanted an eyebrow threading (this last appeal caused me to raise an already nicely arched eyebrow, thank you very much).
But you know what would’ve made me really happy? If those eager gals had offered me nail polishes without well known hazardous chemicals. Now that woulda been worth the extra tips they were angling for.
Don’t call me a buzzkill — I’ve no intention of ruining your idea of a relaxing mani/pedi with talk of dreaded disease. I’m not saying you gotta hightail it out of the salon and go bare on the nails – although that’s a perfectly chic decision. I’m just letting you know that if you avoid several potentially harmful polish ingredients, you’ll nail beauty and safety all at once.
So let’s get to it. The idea here is to avoid the toxic trio. Alliterative, yes, but also right to the point. The moniker refers to formaldehyde, a polish hardener; toluene, a chemical that offers ease of application; and DBP, a plasticizer that prevents chipping — or, as I like to call them, a carcinogen, a neurotoxin, and a hormone disruptor. They’re found in many nail polishes…and it’s ugly business.
Why the heck is stuff that causes cancer, headaches/fatigue and reproductive problems allowed in nail polish anyway? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require cosmetic companies to test the safety of their products by disinterested third-parties. Basically, cosmetics companies get to police themselves. And you know what that means — it means that the Pretty in Pink nail polish on your 6 year-old’s nails likely contains nasty stuff that’s getting absorbed into her developing body through her nail beds (not to mention her mouth, if she’s a biter). I, for one, don’t want that for my daughter. Or myself.
In addition, salon workers who regularly breathe in these hazardous chemicals have reported, among other things, high rates of respiratory problems. Our world suffers as well; when these products are thrown out, the chemicals make their way into our groundwater and soil, contaminating our earth.
The European Union banned or restricted members of the toxic trio from use in cosmetics starting in 2004. Unfortunately, the United States often drags its feet when it comes to this stuff, so if you use nail polishes made in America, you need to be your own watchdog, especially if you’re pregnant or have kids who beg for glittery nails.
Luckily, you don’t have to bark up too many trees to find good, safer polish. There are many companies that care about beautyand health. OPI, Zoya, Poofy Organics and Priti NYC are brands that have proven their nail polish safety. Revlon Multi-Care Base and Topcoat is a nice choice for the before and after. For your little ones – for whom it’s particularly ideal to get that spa treatment at home as opposed to in a stinky salon – there’s the Priti Princess Collection, where shimmery colors abound, andHopscotch Kids. Both of those brands also have safe polish removers.
You should be aware that while certain polishes do claim to be 3 free (some claim to be 5 free – free of the toxic trio, plus formaldehyde resin and camphor), a study done in California in 2012 proved many of them unworthy of the claim. But if you buy yourself some bottles from the companies listed above or other proven brands, you can head to the salon and confidently whip out your own non-toxic shocking orange (as I did that last time). And you might even feel good enough to splurge for that 10 minute massage.