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Toxins Found In Nail Polish

Many nail polishes are marketing themselves as toxin-free and it can be confusing for consumers. Hopefully this post provides a bit more information and explains why BlaqueX Nail Art is committed to using toxin-free products.

There are different levels of toxin free. Most common are 3-free, 5-free and 7-free but other nail polish companies go above and beyond and market themselves as 8-free, 9-free and 10-free. So what do these mean?

  • 3-free polishes do not include DBP, Formaldehyde and Toluene

  • 5-free polishes do not include the above, Formaldehyde resin and Camphor

  • 7-free polishes do not include the above as well as Ethyl Tosylamide and Xylene

  • 8-free polishes do not include all of the above or TPHP

  • 9-free polishes do not include all of the above or either Parabens or animal products

  • Lastly, 10-free polishes do not include the above or fragrance

Here’s why these toxins can be harmful and why the nail polish industry is moving away from using these ingredients:

  • Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP): DBP is a reproductive and hormonal toxicant  linked to birth defects, and hormonal imbalances. It mimics estrogen in the body and can lead to early onset menopause.

  • Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. Formaldehyde is naturally found in the body in small amounts but repeated and prolonged exposure to formaldehyde is linked to cancers of the throat, nose, and blood. It is also linked to asthma, convulsions, nausea, miscarriages, fluid buildup in the lungs and abnormal fetal development in pregnant women.

  • Toluene: Toluene can cause birth defects, developmental problems in children and is a respiratory toxicant. Repeated or prolonged exposure to toluene can result in decreased brain functionality, neurological damage, respiratory problems, nausea, and hearing loss. Additionally, it produces irritating fumes.

  • Formaldehyde Resin: Formaldehyde Resin is a by-product of formaldehyde. It is a possible allergen and can cause skin depigmentation and loss of nerve sensation.

  • Camphor: Camphor can cause seizures and disorientation in large doses. Otherwise it is known to trigger severe skin irritation and allergic reactions when applied topically. Inhaling its fumes can cause nausea, dizziness, and headaches. Additionally it can dry out and yellow the nail.

  • Ethyl tosylamide: Ethyl tosylamide is an ingredient banned in Europe due to its antibiotic properties and concern over antibiotic resistance. Not much more is known about this chemical.

  • Xylene: Xylene can cause organ toxicity in large quantities but most nail polishes don’t use this anymore.

  • Triphenyl phosphate: TPHP is an endocrine disruptor that is easily absorbed through the nail. TPHP has been linked to infertility, abnormal fetal development, hormonal imbalances and several types of cancer. Studies have shown that within 10 to 14 hours of applying nail polish, the level of TPHP found in their urine increased by almost 7 times that of before the polish was applied.

  • Parabens: Parabens are a chemical preservative linked to breast cancer in women. They also block the nail bed from receiving natural vitamins and nutrients from the sun and air.

Many of these toxins haven’t been used in the industry in a while or are found in extremely small quantities but I believe in being on the safe side. Most nail polishes on the market are at least 3-free but it is my personal opinion to only use products that are 5-free and above. I want to use what I call “mindful” products during my services both for the health of my clients as well as my own personal health. While these toxins in nails polishes are found in small quantities, I believe that what we put into and onto our bodies (repeatedly) matters.

This is not a promo post so I won’t advertise any brands that are toxin-free but feel free to reach out if you have any questions about products to buy. I’ve compiled my own personal list of Black-owned and Non-Black-owned nail polishes that are toxin-free and I’m always on the lookout for other brands.



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