Is Nail Polish Toxic?

One night I was laying in bed watching TV and I decided on a whim to paint my nails. …So I went to my closet and rummaged through my multiple bottles of finger nail polish. I have over a dozen little bottles that range from chunky glitter, to pale pinks, to vibrant purples. My eyes landed on a nude pink so I quickly grabbed it, hopped in bed, and started gliding the brush across my nails. BUT… instead of the nostalgic relaxed feeling I was expecting, I immediately was hit by a headache from the nail polish fumes! IT WAS AWFUL!!! I guess it’d been such a long time since I last polished my nails that I was no longer accustomed to the strong smell it emits. What’s even crazier is that I don’t even remember noticing the smell of nail polish prior to this…

Growing up, painting nails was one of my favorite activities. My sister and I had TONS of nail polish. I remember being in high school and buying new polish with my sister and then painting our nails with all sorts of vibrant colors. We couldn’t do anything fancy, but it was still super fun! I still remember the time my sister took me to get my first acrylic full set of nails! I felt so grown-up! 

That night it donned on me that I could no longer keep coating my nails with this toxic polish I owned. After all, nails are porous so whatever you put on them is going to be absorbed into your body on some level even it’s very little.  BUT! I also knew I didn’t want to give up painting my nails…which led me on the hunt for a “natural” nail polish.

I remembered using a brand called Butter London when I was pregnant after learning about it online. After reading some reviews, I snagged a bottle at TJ Maxx for like 3 bucks. I loved the polish but only had one color so I eventually grabbed some others. My favorite make-up store, Ulta, also carried a few other safe nail polish options so I thought I’d give them a shot as well! 

Why Did I Choose To Switch My Nail Polish from Toxic to Less-Toxic?

After experiencing the headache from the fumes of the nail polish I decided then I didn’t want to expose my body nor Breezy to all of those foul smelling toxins.  Now, ALL nail polishes include some amount of chemicals but I figured if I could find a polish that did not have the TOXIC TRIO I’d be happy. This trio consists of three chemicals: formaldehyde,  Toluene, and  dibutyl phthalate (yea who can even pronounce that). Come to find out, nail polish actually contains 7 harmful components but I sure don’t remember learning about this stuff in nursing school… If I had I would’ve tossed my polish a long time ago!  I’ve included information from OSHA below in regards to the toxic trio. 

Known to cause cancer

Can cause the following reactions: 

  1.  Difficulty Breathing
  2. Coughing
  3.  Wheezing & Asthma like reactions
  4. Irritated eyes, throat & skin 

Harm to unborn children during pregnancy.

Can cause the following reactions: 

  1. dry or cracked skin
  2. headaches
  3. dizziness & numbness
  4. irritated eyes, nose, throat, & lungs
  5. damage to liver & kidneys 

Can case the following reactions:

  1. Nausea
  2. Irriatated skin, eyes, throat, nose & mouth

Since that night, I’ve painted my nails twice with Pacifica nail polish and I really like it. It still has a harsh smell but it was not nearly as strong as other polishes I’ve used and I didn’t get a headache. I used Butter London quick dry conditioning drops in between coats but I didn’t feel it dried fast enough so I used a Mama Hack I learned about and dipped my nails into a bowl of ice water for about 30 seconds at a time (because I’m a wimp and couldn’t take it much longer). Doing this freezes the polish and instantly dries your nails. 

My entire family is on a journey to improve our health. Wellness is more important to us than it has ever been and in an effort to live well we are trying to change as many things as we can. Nail polish may seem like an unnecessary change but according to OSHA there are some detrimental effects that can occur from being exposed to the chemicals it includes. 

Have you made any changes to improve the wellness of your family? We’d love to hear about it! Comment below. If you have a favorite natural nail polish brand or colors please share them with me!  We would love to hear from you! 




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  1. Wow, I didn’t even know you would have to think about this. Definitely going to be replacing my regular with the good one!

    1. Morgan says:

      I was so sad to part with some of my favorite shades but knowing I am not exposing myself to those toxins is worth it!

  2. So many good facts about nail polish that I did not know.

    1. Morgan says:

      Yeah I was shocked by all of the toxins that are used to make nail polish it is kind of scary to think we are using those components on our bodies! Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  3. This is really important for people to know- thank you for sharing!

    1. Morgan says:

      Sometimes small changes can have a huge impact on our health, I thought I would start with changing my nail polish and then transition to other types of natural beauty products. Tanks so much for reading and commenting!

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