11 Feb 2013

Consciously Consuming: nail biting facts.

A while back, whilst procrastinating, I was reading Bekah's blog (I love her writing) when the linkwithin widget thing showed a post called Clean Beauty: Nail Polish.  Until I read this I had never considered what went into nail polish, naively I think I assume that anything sold in Boots or Superdrug has to be AOK.  I suppose denial may have also been a factor, I am a sucker for a bit of glittery nail varnish - I have been known to put the stuff on in cafes because I have been too excited to wait to get home.

So after reading Bekah's post, I had to do some googling of my own.  (Although I link to articles below, I have not linked to the same ones as Bekah as I really feel you should stop by and read her post as well).

The main message is this: there are a top-trio of unpleasant toxins in nail varnish:

                           Dibutyl Phthalate, Formaldehyde and Toluene

DBP, for example, is used to stop your nail varnish becoming brittle (and are also used as fragrance ingredients which apparently are not required to be included on the label).  According to the David Suzuki foundation:

"The European Union classifies DBP as a suspected endocrine disruptor on the basis of evidence that it interferes with hormone function, and as toxic to reproduction on the basis that it may cause harm to the unborn child and impair fertility. As well, Health Canada notes evidence suggesting that exposure to phthalates may cause health effects such as liver and kidney failure in young children when products containing phthalates are sucked or chewed for extended periods."

which, as a chronic nail biter, is clearly a little disturbing.  

Another article posted by Conscious Community discusses Alternatives to Toxic Nail Polish and adds:

"Interestingly,  many of the nail polish brands which claim to be “safe” do not contain the top 3 toxins, but still contain acetates which are are classed as neurotoxins and definitely to be avoided."

As a result, last week I packed up all my beautiful colours, so lovingly curated and adored, and removed their toxicity from my life.  It was a little sad.  However they are being replaced with a single colour from Scotch Naturals nail varnish which is apparently the alternative and -

'"3 Free” as well free of ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose, acetone, and heavy metals (...) truly non-toxic.'

I suppose for avoiding a slow poisoning by neurotoxins, having less varied nails is probably a small price to pay.


PS: My googling also uncovered a printable by Gill Deacon which folds to fit in your wallet and includes a list of Best Brands with regards to cosmetics as well as a long list of Toxins to Avoid that are commonly found in cosmetics - the perfect reference for when out and about.


  1. Omg. Talk about a wake up call. I bite my nails like a madwoman and I hate it. I definitely chew off my nail polish too. I'm going to need to really make a change when it comes to this. I can't believe I've never even thought about the fact that I'm chewing on chemicals! I feel so silly.

    1. I know! I felt ridiculous as I read the articles absentmindedly chewing on my nails... you just make the assumption that these things have to be perfectly harmless!

  2. I LOVE this video!! And that nail polish is gorgeous. I'm getting into painting my fingernails again (usually just paint my toes) and glittery nail polish has always been a favorite of mine. I'm definitely going to look into this. Thanks!

    xxx Sabrina