A recent article from the NY Times is both disturbing and eye-opening, as it sheds light on an important ongoing issue: the dangers that nail salon workers face on a daily basis due to exposure to harmful chemicals found in nail care products. It also reminds us that these dangers don’t just stop with those who work in nail salons; it applies to all of us who use nail polish (and other nail products) on a regular basis. While we may not be breathing in these chemicals for hours every day, many of us are still exposed to them (even if at low doses) over a prolonged period of time. Chemicals found in nail polish have been linked to health hazards including cancer, neurological disorders, impaired reproductive health, birth defects, headaches, skin conditions, and respiratory problems.
The article was very timely for me, as I have recently been in the process of exploring more natural nail polish options. While my nails used to be remarkably strong and healthy, years of medication and use of conventional nail products have left my nail and skin health to suffer. While battling a relentless case of eczema on my hands (and specifically, around my nail beds), I knew it was time for a change.
That being said, you might already be aware that there’s really no such thing as totally “natural nail polish.” In this case, the term “natural” is used to describe nail polish brands that remove some of the more harsh chemicals found in conventional nail polish brands, making them less hazardous to our health and less likely to cause allergic reactions. Although these products are still made with chemicals that aren’t completely benign, they are free of some of the more offensive toxins. And if we are going to indulge in treating ourselves to a mani/pedi, we may as well use the least toxic options, right?
There are several brands that claim to offer more natural options. The problem is, some natural versions tend to not work very well, chipping far too easily and making the investment in these nail polish brands a waste of time and money.
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So after doing some experimenting of my own, Zoya has become my current favorite. It’s “5-free” (i.e. free of five of the worst toxic offenders: formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, camphor, and dibutyl phthalate), and I find that it also works just as well as conventional nail polish. Zoya nail polish usually lasts a good week for me (especially if I refresh my topcoat a few days into it), and they offer a wide selection of both classic and trendy colors. I recommend also using Zoya’s base coat, top coat, and fast dry drops for the best results. (Note: while some natural nail polishes require extra long drying times, the fast dry drops ensure your layers will be dry and nick-free within 5-10 minutes…perfect for an impatient and clumsy person, like me!)
I also like the fact that Zoya seems to be a fairly transparent brand. While some brands don’t bother to publish their ingredients (or have been found to be misleading on their labels), Zoya lists their ingredients on the back of each bottle, and appears to have upheld a trustworthy reputation when their products were tested by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. (And bonus: they’re vegan, too!)
Of course, the safest option for our overall health is to use no polish at all, but some of us are not quite open to completely ditching our mani/pedi habits. All in all, I’ve found Zoya products to be a good compromise when wanting to paint my nails, but still aim for a healthier alternative. Since making my change to more natural nail polish, my eczema has improved, and my nails are slowly being restored to their prior healthy state. I’m glad to have found something that leaves me with a happy medium between beauty and good health.