Plastics have snuck up on us and can be found in the most unexpected places. Try our bodies, for example.
And, who knew that the ingredients to make plastic soft, known as phthalates, are found in perfume oil solvents and the resulting fragrance, paper coatings, adhesives, printing inks, air fresheners, and nail polish? We might have thought to look for plastic dangers in our plastic food packages, but air fresheners? Nail polish?
Phthalates are recognized hormone disrupters and as such have been linked to breast cancer as well as prostate cancer. In a recent study by the Environmental Working Group, phthalates were found in the bodies of every single girl tested for the pollutant.
It occurs to me that it would be great if we could start signaling to other women our support of living a non-toxic, breast-protective lifestyle by making a statement with our nails. We can contribute to a greater awareness about how plastics can cause breast cancer for Breast Cancer Awareness Month by eschewing nail polish with a natural manicure. (There are some phthalate-free nail polishes on the market, but they are far and few between and unless you live in a bit city, have to be ordered online and therefore aren’t practical for most people.)
Natural manicures also look very beautiful and by having one yourself you would be an inspiration to others, showing that natural can be just as if not more beautiful. Preparing for a TV show that was going to be very focused on my hands because I was going to be mixing non-toxic DIY formulas, I went to my town’s most natural salon and asked them to give me the best natural manicure for the event. They did! My nails looked practically luminous and they were stunningly attractive.
Here are the directions for how my nails were given a natural manicure as I reported in my book Better Basics for the Home:
Nail file (emery board or metal files)
Organic apple cider vinegar
Orangewood manicure stick
Fruit or nut oil (almond or avocado, for example)
Fine pumice-stone sand stick
1. File, wash and soak nails, soften cuticles, clean and shape cuticles. File in one direction only, and always do this when your nails are dry. Wash your hands and soak in warm water or a fruit acid solution such as buttermilk or organic apple cider vinegar, before applying a cold-pressed fruit or nut oil into the cuticle area near the half-moon at the base of the nail. Use the blunt end of an orangewood manicure stick to gently push the cuticles back from the nails.
2. Sand and buff nails. Dry your hands completely. Sand and polish the top of each nail with a fine pumice-stone sand stick to remove any ridges. Do the same thing with a fine-grit block. Once the ridges are removed, smooth the top of the nail with a smoothing file and a buffing chamois. You’d be amazed at how shiny your nails will look following these steps, almost as if you were wearing a clear polish. You can choose a more natural, less-shiny matte finish if preferred, by not using the finest grade buffing files.
3. Moisturize. Massage your hands with a moisturizing cream or lotion.
Spread the word, and consider having a natural manicure party with friends, and invite some teenagers so that they in turn can teach their friends.
Annie Bond is the author of four books on the natural lifestyle.