Beauty products can be full of questionable and toxic ingredients. From the formaldehyde in hairspray, to traces of lead in lipstick, there’s a lot to look out for. And just when you think you cleaned up your beauty products, there’s another one you should reconsider. Nail polish might seem benign, but it’s also full of toxic ingredients you might not want to put on your nails anymore.

You might think it doesn’t matter if you use toxic nail polish. After all, it goes on the nail, and not directly on the skin, like other cosmetic products. However, your nail, like your skin, is porous, too, and chemicals can make their way to the bloodstream via the nail, too.

What kind of chemicals? Let’s look at the common ingredients in nail polish.


This chemical is used to preserve the nail polish, as well as to strengthen the nail. However, formaldehyde is a carcinogen.

Dibutyl Phthalate (DBT)

This chemical helps polish to be long lasting, but it’s an endocrine disruptor and can interfere with a woman’s reproductive system.

Triphenyl Phosphate (TPHP)

TPHP is used to make polish flexible and also durable. But here again is another chemical that messes with hormone levels, as well as the reproductive system.


No matter why formulas include toluene, the risks far outweigh the benefits. That’s because toluene has been linked to problems with the nervous system, as well as reproduction and developmental processes.

These are only four of the toxic chemicals that nail polish formulas use. However, there are lots of beauty brands that offer safer products so you can have a manicure you can actually feel good about.

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