Gluten-free. Dairy-free. Five-free. Ok so maybe that last one isn’t so familiar but it should be. Here’s why we’re making the switch to 5-free nail polish.
To find out why it’s so important we make the swap, we consulted Emily Stock, founder of our new fave detoxed beauty salon, Barefoot Beauty.
Ok first things first, how important is it really that we make sure to track down 5-free nail polish (or even 10-free)?
Real speak: the amount of any ingredient alone in nail polish is typically not enough to be harmful, even to the regular polish user. That being said, initiatives by nail polish producers to eliminate specific ingredients that have been connected to negative health and environmental effects are still very important.
When it comes to chemical exposure, the most concerning chemicals are those with a bioaccumulative effect (those that build up in your body over time and are not easily eliminated), such as formaldehyde and toluene, as well as those which are commonly found in small amounts in many wellness and household products. The concern with these two factors is that you end up being exposed to much more of a substance than you realize and this could easily mean that your exposure goes from harmless to harmful shockingly fast.
So what are the big bag five products that are removed from 5-free nail polish?
- Formaldehyde: Used as a hardener, strengthener, and preservative in nail polishes
- Concern: Shown to have carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects and cause respiratory damage
- Formaldehyde Resin: A formaldehyde byproduct that has been shown to off-gas formaldehyde,
- Concern: A known skin irritant
- DBP (Dibutyl Phthalate): A plasticizer used to give polish flexibility and limit polish chipping.
- Concern: an endocrine (hormone) disruptor that has been shown to cause reproductive and fetal developmental damage
- Toluene: A solvent used to give nail polish a smooth finish
- Concern: The fumes are highly toxic and have been shown to be a potent neurotoxin, cause impaired breathing, nausea, and impaired fetal development in pregnant women
- Camphor: Used to give a glossy finish to nail polish
- Concern: Potent skin irritant and strongly associated with nausea, dizziness, and headaches when inhaled
Ok that’s a heck of a lot of bad stuff. What on earth could also be lurking in our polishes that can still be removed to make them 10-free?
- Ethyl Tosylamide: A plasticizer that speeds up drying time in nail polish
- Concern: Banned in personal care products in the EU due to concerns with creating antibacterial resistance
- Xylene: A solvent used to keep nail polish from thickening
- Concern: a respiratory and skin irritant
- TPHP (Triphenyl Phosphate): A plasticizer used to increase flexibility and prevent chipping in nail polish
- Concern: Potential endocrine (hormone) disruptor
- Parabens: A preservative used in nail polish
- Concerns: Strong evidence of endocrine (hormone) disruption, and it is in many products so the cumulative effect can be quite concerning
- Lead: An additive in nail polish for colouring or effect
- Concern: highly suspected to be a developmental and reproductive toxicant
Ready to make the switch? Here’s just a small sampling of the list of big-name brands that are boasting 5-free nail polish:
- Zoya (10-free)
- Jin Soon
- Deborah Lippman
- Butter London
“I know that in this day and age it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to completely eliminate toxic chemicals from all aspects of our lives,” says Stock. “But if we can make small decisions, such as choosing healthier nail polishes, this will greatly help to limit our exposure. Life is all about choices and we’re just trying to make one of those choices a bit easier for our clients.”
Looking for a non-toxic mani/pedi in Toronto with 5-free nail polish (and even 10-free)? Head to Barefoot Beauty.