How to Find a Safe Nail Polish

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A friend recently asked me if I could recommend a safer nail polish brand. Since I first discovered Beautycounter in 2015, and learned about the lack of regulation in the US personal care industry, I have started taking a closer look at the ingredients in all my products.

The New York Times published an article a couple of years ago that highlighted the dangers of repeated exposure to the chemicals found in the polishes we have grown to know and love. As a nurse practitioner, I like to look at data. The science is where it’s at for me. So when I saw that a 2006 study from the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine linked manicurists to increased rates of cough and an overwhelming likelihood to develop job-related asthma, my ears perked up.

The three main chemicals in nail products that are associated with the most serious health issues (respiratory disorders, cancer, impaired fertility) are dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene and formaldehyde. They are commonly known as the “toxic trio.”

In Australia, DBP is required by law to be listed as a “reproductive toxin,” and was subsequently banned from use. It is also one of over 1400 banned ingredients in the European Union. However, there is absolutely no restriction it’s use in the US. Why is that?!

Toluene has also been linked to reproductive abnormalities and formaldehyde is labeled as a human carcinogen by the US Department of Health and Human Services. But note…there’s still no ban on its use in personal care products! Again, why?!

So if it’s proven to cause disease with repeated, long-term exposure, why use it at all?

I’ve put together a list of some safer nail polish brands as healthier alternatives.


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Photo from Cote’s Instagram

Côte is an LA-based company that set out to create a safer nail product. Their polishes are free of the major toxins and allergens that are often associated with nail polish: formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, camphor, formaldehyde resin, TPHP, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, parabens and gluten.

I’ve used Côte before and while it’s a good polish, I personally notice that it tends to chip pretty easily after a few days. Their polishes run $18/bottle and they have a good assortment of colors. They can be purchased directly from their site. One of my favorite things about this brand is that they are USA-based, they have their own free-standing salons in LA and NYC, but most importantly, they are transparent about their ingredients.


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Photo from Zoya’s Instagram

Zoya is an Ohio-based company (yay Ohio peeps!) and is by far my favorite of the “safer” nail polish brands that I have tried. I find that the polish lasts longer than others before it starts to chip, the color options are great, and they usually have pretty awesome deals online. They pride themselves on being “10-free” (free of 10 known harmful chemicals) and are completely vegan. They retail for about $10/bottle and often have BOGOs online. Who doesn’t love a good BOGO?? They can be purchased directly from their site or on Amazon.

Ella + Mila

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Photo from Ella + Mila’s Instagram

Ella + Mila is another great nail polish brand (they also make lip gloss now). They are 7-free (made without Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, TPHP and Xylene) and they are vegan as well. All their products are manufactured in the United States.  They have a huge variety of colors. I love their packaging, but that’s mostly because I’m obsessed with all things elephant. Their pastels are just gorgeous and the polishes wear really well. They’re pricing is pretty average at $10.50/bottle and they can be purchased from their site directly, or on Amazon.

Piggy Paint

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Photo from Piggy Paint’s Instagram

For those of us with kiddos, especially those who like to have their nails painted like mommy, having a kid-friendly option is always important. Cue Piggy Paint. They are a water-based polish, kid-friendly polish without the accompanying drawbacks (aka chemicals) associated with traditional nail polishes. Their products are free of formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates, biphenyl A, ethyl acetate and acetone and also manufactured in the United States. You can rest easy when you see those freshly painted finger nails go straight into their mouths knowing they are safe. Their polishes are the most affordable at $7.99/bottle and are available on their site or on Amazon.

This is just a small list of the safer brands out there. These are the ones I’m most familiar with. What are some of the safer brands you’ve found and loved? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments 🙂

*Note: There are affiliate links in this post. If you make a purchase I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Thank you for supporting Healthy Beauty Mama!

Why does children’s makeup contain asbestos??

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This tested positive for asbestos. Photo from here

There was a story circulating in the news lately that was really alarming. I posted the article on my Facebook page Healthy Beauty Mama, but I want to talk about it a little bit more here.

Mom’s of daughters…I’m sure you know that little girls love to play with makeup, particularly glitter makeup. Honestly, what little girl doesn’t love glitter?? Girls especially want makeup when they see their mommies putting it on frequently. Companies like Claire’s have started marketing makeup to children. It makes sense from an advertising point of view, create a product for a specific niche.

Over the recent holidays, a mother from Rhode Island who also happens to be a lawyer who’s firm specializes in asbestos class-action lawsuits, decided to send her six-year-old’s makeup to an independent laboratory to see what was really in it. Shockingly, it tested positive for tremolite asbestos. Tremolite asbestos has been linked to the cancer mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers.

This is bad. Likely really bad.

The following makeup products sold at Claire’s stores have been pulled from store shelves until the company is able to complete their own investigation. The items included in this recall are (please check Claire’s website for more information):

  • Ultimate Mega Makeup Set (code 71844)
  • Metallic Hot Pink Glitter 48 Piece Makeup Set (code 76094)
  • Pink Glitter Cellphone Makeup Compact (code 26556)
  • Bedazzled Rainbow Heart Makeup Set (code 11767)
  • Rainbow Bedazzled Star Makeup Set  (code 20926)
  • Rainbow Glitter Heart Shaped Makeup Set (code 97275)
  • Mint Glitter Makeup Set (code 74769)
  • Rainbow Bedazzled Rectangle Makeup Set (code 21044)
  • Pink Glitter Palette with Eyeshadow & Lip Gloss (code 97276)

As you may or may not know, there is very little regulation over the personal care and cosmetics industry. The last law passed with any regulation over this multi-billion dollar industry was in 1938 and that bill is only 1.5 pages long. To date, there are only 30 products banned from personal care and cosmetic products.

What can you do to improve the safety of products for yourself and your children? Vote with your wallets. Don’t purchase questionable products. Read the ingredients list on products and learn which ingredients you should avoid. Try to avoid products that contain these ingredients. Personally, I trust ethically responsible companies like Beautycounter, Primally Pure, Doterra, Seventh Generation, Molly Suds.

If you have any questions about ingredients or safer options, please feel free to comment below or send me an email!