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Natural Nails for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Natural Nails for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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
Smoothing file
Buffing chamois
Moisturizing cream


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.

Read more: Beauty, Cancer, Green Chi, Hands & Feet, , , ,

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.


+ add your own
5:44AM PDT on Oct 14, 2011

What about the new nail shellac that the nail salons offer that lasts up to 3 weeks? Are they better than using the plastic kind?

5:37AM PST on Jan 8, 2011

Thanks for the info.

8:42PM PDT on Mar 28, 2010

Take care of your nails!

11:04PM PDT on Mar 16, 2010

I'm wondering if anyone knows or could tell me if it is better to have acetone or non-acetone nail polish remover for just removing nail polish off of regular nails?

8:11PM PST on Feb 11, 2010

I love using the Ms. Manicure filing kits! They have different emery files and polishers on a cube. It makes a huge difference in the shine of my nails.

3:31AM PDT on Jun 15, 2009


12:19PM PST on Dec 17, 2008

Thanks for all you advice, folks. I let the nalis grow until the acrylic ones were about a half inch from the cuticle & then removed the acrylics myself. They are soft and brittle right now. Hope they get stronger as they grow out more.

4:42PM PST on Dec 16, 2008

NailAid has a whole line of nail care products that are free from all toxins, including formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate. Plus, they even have a product specially designed to help restore your nails after using acrylics! You can find the products at

11:18AM PDT on Oct 13, 2008

If you get some acetone nail polish remover, it'll dissolve your acrylic nails (the fabric content test for acetate material is to see if it dissolves in acetone polish remover because it's made up of the same stuff), they should've warned you at the salon to NOT us acetone polish. This is the reason why it's easier to find NON-acetone remover. But, it's also probably got horrible stuff in it, and at a time your nails are damaged from the acrylics (therefore more susceptible to taking in its toxins), and this is probably how they'll remove your nails at the salon, I don't know which would be more damaging--to leave them on or remove them with toxins. I have seen more natural polish removers in more natural food stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joes, but it is expensive and I don't know if it has acetone in it. I assume acetone is bad, so it probably doesn't. I'm just wanting to add some input that may be helpful to some looking this way, and more info to think about while deciding what to do. Good luck!

6:19AM PDT on Oct 11, 2008

The ingredients used in acrylic nails are the same as the
adhesive used for braces on your teeth (they were in-vented by the same guy). We were allowed to try
at least one in cosmetology class (this was a long time
ago) and I thought it felt like it was cutting off the circ-
ulation in my finger. I couldn't wait to get it off and
never did it again.
besides it smelled like the braces I had on my teeth
during high school.
You could probably go back to the salon were you've
gotten them before and have them taken off. You
could also go to the nearest beauty supply store and
buy the stuff there. I wouldn't worry about hurting
the manicurist feelings, they'll get another customer
soon enough.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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