12 Non-Toxic Nail Polish Brands

The more natural I go with skin care, the more natural I go with everything I put on my body. My latest green switch is nail care. I am a big fan of painted nails. In my jewelry career, that was limited to my toes, as it was pointless to paint my fingernails – they were never long and were in constant use.

I was watching a rerun of my favorite guilty pleasure, Gilmore Girls, and Lorelai’s nails were painted this great fire-engine red. This was about a week before Christmas and I thought, “Perfect!” I ran to my bathroom, got my fave O.P.I. red and started to paint. Then, I noticed the smell. My husband has what we like to call “dog nose” (thanks to a funny line in an even funnier book, Diary of a Mad Mom-to-Be by Laura Wolf). This affliction causes him to smell things more deeply and strongly than the rest of us, especially me. Problem is, I seem to have contracted it as well in the few months since we moved back to the states, and the nail polish was seriously making me feel like I was going to lose my lunch. And the kicker? It wouldn’t dry. Ever. I think it was the rain.

Whatever the cause, after four hours trying to dry in the evening and a sleepless night spent with my nails sticking to my flannel sheets, I got up and removed the perfect red that was now all smudged and still not dry. The lacquer/formaldehyde smell stuck with me through the night and my nails felt a little bit like someone was trying to peel them off. I’ve known for years that nail polish and standard polish remover are not terribly healthy for us and even less healthy for the environment, and I’d been thinking for a while that I needed to switch. But would non-toxic colors really last? Would they come in the shades I like? Would plain old alcohol really remove them?

Hence began my search for non-toxic nail polish. I’ve been more aware of healthier lacquer since I attended the Women In Green Forum this past September, but haven’t been painting my nails much (or at all, really) and haven’t had the right impetus to pursue researching it. Until now.

naturalnailpolish

There are lots of brands out there that say they are all-natural or non-toxic, but there are three ingredients you are looking to avoid:

1. Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)

2. Formaldehyde (yes, seriously. In your nail polish.)

3. Toluene

These three have been linked to problems ranging from skin irritation in people to birth defects in animals.

Polishes that exclude all three of the above-listed chemicals:

1. Piggy Paint, non-toxic, odorless, kid-friendly, kid-colored, water-based formula.

2. Honeybee Gardens, an alternative to solvent-based nail polish, water-based, odorless, removes with rubbing alcohol.

3. No-Miss, does not contain the three-to-avoid above, and also does not contain camphor.

4. Acquarella, water-based system of nail polish, conditioner, remover and moisturizer.

5. Suncoat, water-based nail polish that has been recognized and honored from the Canadian Health Food Association Expo.

6. Gaiam, Created by New York City’s first organic spa, this non toxic nail polish is free of known carcinogens.

7. Peacekeeper Cause-Metics, created by the Environmental Working Group as the safest paint-based natural nail polish.

8. Benecos, created without the use of formaldehydes, toluene, camphor, phthalates or formaldehyde.

9. Nubar, carcinogen-free nail care products.

10. Safe Nail Polish, non-toxic, oderless, made in the USA.

11. Priti, non-toxic, made without the evil-three and all known carcinogenic ingredients.

12. Spa Ritual, vegan nail lacquers.

Having done my research, I was eager to try some out! I looked at several of the brands for the colors I wanted: fire-engine red; palest of pinks like you’d use for a french manicure; and dark purple-almost black, but not true black. I found what I thought I was looking for at Honeybee Gardens online, and ordered all three colors. Once delivered, the only one that was what I wanted was the light pink, but I saved the other two to give as gifts. I found the red I was looking for by No-Miss in the RWC Whole Foods, and am still on the lookout for the not-quite-black. I recommend buying polish you can see in the store, online photos and different computer screens make it difficult to tell what color you’re really getting.

So how well does the polish hold up and does it really come off with just rubbing alcohol? Fabulously well! And Yes! I gave myself a full mani-pedi on Sunday, and had to remove the last of the pink polish. I used plain old generic rubbing alcohol, probably from Walgreen’s, and cotton swabs (once my bag of swabs is done, I will switch to using cotton rags in stead of disposable cotton balls). I had to rub a little longer to remove all the polish, but there was no stink! Not from the remover or the polish – Honeybee Gardens and No-Miss both state they are fragrance-free and while they do have a slight odor, it is insignificant and doesn’t smell like toxic paint.

As for the staying power, I have a chip on one nail, but I’ve done dishes, washed a car and moved some furniture since Sunday and I’m impressed with how great the paint looks and stays on. I’m a convert for sure.

-Jocelyn Broyles

Image credit – Robot nail art: borispumps via Flickr 

Related:
How to Find Lipstick Without Lead
7 Ingredients to Ban From Your Bathroom

265 comments

Laura L.
Laura W.4 months ago

Thank you ever so much for sharing the info with others. But the real quest is avoiding many more chemicals than three! I started there. To get you to buy their polish, some companies are avoiding the commonly known "three." There are also some companies avoiding five of these toxins. I have bought from three companies, avoiding seven (7) known toxins. One of them is Suncoat. I have worn off the name of the other companies. I will check my orders, in Amazon, for their names and report back)) I purchase from Amazon, being that I could try out each polish, one at a time, and with Prime, it is free shipping. The one thing you'll find is that they don't all come off easily. You'll have to rub off for minutes--with your non-toxic polish remover. For mine I chose Karma Naturals, because I got the most for least amount of $. The polishes are actually less expensive than the normal designer kind (come on, $24 for toxins from Deborah Lippmann. Only 3/4 of the bottle is worthwhile, for most, and, yes, I know about thinners..nah). I believe it's Suncoat that has a peel off type. I'm not crazy about it, but it's faster (always heard peeling off wasn't good)? But maybe in this case.. I will definitely research the companies Ms. Broyles has informed us about. I do know that Piggy Paint is not one of the 5 or 7-free companies. I almost bought one. 🌟 I love pretty nails and a natural, made up face, but I've had breast cancer, and everyone has family or knows a life it's

Amanda Brown
Amanda Brown5 months ago

I Need To Quit Wearing It ...I'll Defiantly Think Before I Buy ANOTHER Color..;)
O'Well Some Habits Need To Die To Make Room For Better,Different Habits...;) See That?? Thats Me Growing;)!!!!

Nina S.
Nina S.5 months ago

tyfs

Amber S.
Amber S.5 months ago

So surprised Jamberry is not on this list! They are 5-free, vegan, latex free and still wear well! Easy to find online at ambersralla.jamberry.com

Berny p.
Berny p.8 months ago

Any brand in europe the same?

Chiara P.
Chiara P.11 months ago

Hello! I really like shellac and gelish manicure, are the nail polishes listed for shellac and/or gelish manicure? If not, does anyone know any? Xx

Farheen M.
Farheen M.11 months ago

Hi. Can the author of this article pls let me know if the study included a brand called Inglot is included in the toxic free range? Here's a link to their website: http://inglotcosmetics.com/about.us/page/554
I've been introduced to their oxygen and water permeable nail polishes and find they have no chemical smell or effect on me. They are sold in Toronto, Heather G so there's some hope in Canada ;) Hope this helps. I'd be keen to know if it excludes the three ingredients mentioned in the article.

Rade T.
Rade T.11 months ago

LVX Couture Nail Lacquer is a brand that is 7 Toxin free and lasts 7-10 days. Its a long wear polish, but without the harsh chemicals of gel manicures. www.shoplvx.com

Les Moore
Les Moore11 months ago

Most of the links need updating as the pages have moved! Other than that, thanks for the info. :)

Renee M.
Renee M.11 months ago

Sorry but I love my gel manicures.