The Importance of a Non-Toxic Manicure


I have three little girls, and the truth is I don’t have much luxurious spa time at the moment. However, the day will come soon enough when one of our favorite things to do will be to spend an afternoon getting manicures and pedicures together, and I will certainly be the clean beauty boss ensuring it’s safe.

There are a host of toxic chemicals included in traditional nail polishes, and if you’re going to a salon for a polish, the air will be saturated with those chemicals as well. There are a small but growing number of studies that are examining the possible links between nail technicians’ work and health outcomes, such as respiratory, neurological, and musculoskeletal effects, as well as other health conditions.

Nail polish can be one of the most toxic beauty products out there with a host of chemical additives that are absorbed by the body through the nail. Some of the most damaging toxins that have been linked to organ problems, and disruptions to the nervous system and hormone production, are all found in nail polish.

These are some of the most offensive:

Triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) – added to nail polish to make the product stick to the nail longer. When the body metabolizes TPP, it produces diphenyl phosphate (DPHP), another harmful chemical linked to hormone disruption.

Toluene – this chemical is used to create a smooth application and finish and is also found in nail polish remover. Its fumes are highly toxic, and has been linked to causing birth defects and developmental problems in children.

Formaldehyde – this is used to strengthen nail polishes and guard against bacteria growth. It is a known carcinogen and Japan and Sweden have completely banned its presence in personal care products.

Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) – this chemical is used to control chipping of polish. It is banned in Europe and is known to cause endocrine and reproductive disruptions.

Researchers at Duke University, in collaboration with the Environmental Working Group, even performed a study that found an alarming rate of the presence of these chemicals in the bodies of women just 10 to 14 hours after they had painted their nails. Worse still, many brands do not list these chemicals as ingredients although they are present in the polish.

So is there a way to get a healthy manicure without the toxicity? Yes there is! And you don’t have to sacrifice quality or a great selection of color.


some Favorite Non-Toxic Nail Care Brands:




My favorite salon in pursuit of non-toxic nail care is Tenoverten – they also have their own line of polishes that exclude eight toxic chemicals from their product, and are completely transparent about all their ingredients, including how they achieve their pigments. I visited their salon this summer at the Platform in Culver City (Los Angeles) which was divine, and they have salon locations in New York and Austin, as well.


ella + mila

Inspired by twin daughters, the ella + mila line is adorable, especially for young children. The line is free of seven toxic chemicals and is vegan and cruelty free as well. They offer a fun selection of sets, including the Mommy&Me collection, which feature a specially curated two-piece bottle set of complimentary mom and child polish.


Honeybee Gardens

Honeybee Gardens is a water-based, gluten free nail polish that can be removed with vodka or rubbing alcohol (or their very own non-toxic nail polish remover). Available in 18 colors, their site has a ton of information and helpful tips regarding application and the benefits of a water-based polish.

Let me know your favorite color as you try something new on your path to non-toxic living. A simple switch, but with huge rewards!

Josh Neimark