9 Toxic Chemicals in Nail Polish. Beware!

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Toxic Chemicals in Nail Polish

Did you know that the dandy lacquer of your nimble fingers come from toxic chemicals in nail polish that are often carcinogenic? 


What are the toxic chemicals in nail polish?

  • Toxic Trio: The three compounds; Formaldehyde, Toluene and Dibutyl Phthlate (DBP) are the most common combination of chemicals in nail polish that is collectively referred to as the "Toxic Trio". Tosylamide-Formaldehyde is a polymer based liquid that makes a coat of color stick to the nail bed. Toluene is a popular solvent whereas Dibutyl Phthlate (DBP) is a common plasticizer that prevents polish from breaking or being chipped. Formaldehyde is far from being harmless, dubbed to be carcinogenic in nature and could cause ear, nose, and skin irritations. DBP and Toluene are the harmful nail polish ingredients known to disrupt reproduction causing birth defects. In addition to other anomalies Toluene could produce symptoms of headache, fatigue and dizziness. 
  • Butyl Acetate: A powerful solvent used to combine different ingredients in a uniform mix. It causes serious health hazards with over-exposure. The peculiarity of this nail polish ingredient lies in the fact that it is non-toxic when orally ingested. However if the lungs gets affected by it, result could be fatal, leading to vomiting, coughing and at times even painful death from chemical pneumonia. Butyl Acetate is no child’s play and has to be handled with immense care. 
  • VA Copolymer: It is used in nail polishes to serve as a waterproof coating for the nails. Although free from major side-effects when used in regulated amount, VA Copolymer could cause severe skin irritation and rashes. 
  • Epoxy Resins: Also known as a hardening agent, Epoxy Resins could be quite irritable for the skin when in direct contact. This toxic chemical hiding in nail polish could cause immense allergy giving rise to hives and inflammation. Inhaling Epoxy vapor could be fatal for the respiratory system. Small particles of dust clog the lung infesting the mucous system.
  • Benzophenone 1: A chemical known for its stability, that prevents change in color of nail polish when subjected to direct sunlight. Especially bad for children as their immune system lacks the enzyme needed to disintegrate the compound. This might lead to harmful accumulation in the body. Once absorbed, this toxic chemical in nail polish remains in body for quite some time. The grave concern is that Benzophenone 1 keeps providing free radicals in the body that could be very harmful in the long run.
  • Stearalkonium Hectorite: You must have admired the sparkling particles swimming slowly in the bottle that make your talons so titillating to look at? Yes, it is Stearalkonium Hectorite that acts as a thickening agent. Effects on the skin and eye could be detrimental so don’t you dare throw caution to the wind while painting your nails.
  • Bismuth Oxychloride: Behind the shine and shimmer of your nail paint, Bismuth Oxychloride has the largest to contribute. The inside story is however on the bleaker side. Respiratory problems, skin irritation and neurological disorders are associated with this harmful nail polish ingredient widely used in nail polish. Direct inhalation could produce nose, throat and lung irritation. Being essentially a crystal of abrasive nature it could also cause severe acne and skin breakouts. 


Prevention is any time better than cure. Considering the very presence of toxic chemicals in nail polish, play safe and use your colors in moderation cons.

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