Is Nail Polish Clean?

Opening an eco spa had its challenges especially when it came to offering manicures and pedicures that required using nail polish, something that we have never delved into making and knew very little about. When I started studying the ingredients, I realized that there wasn’t much difference between one company and another when it came to formulation whether they make a clean claim or not. Currently, there are many companies that use "free" numbers (e.g., 5-free, 7-free, 10-free, 21-free) to indicate the number of potentially harmful chemicals that the nail polish formulation does not contain. Here is the list of 21 ingredients that are part of the 21-free group of chemicals. 

Formaldehyde, Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Camphor, Formaldehyde Resin, Ethyl Tosylamide, Xylene, TPHP (Triphenyl Phosphate), Parabens, Lead, Animal-derived ingredients (like guanine, often derived from fish scales), Fragrance or perfumes, Sulfates, Petrochemicals, Gluten, Benzophenone-1, Benzophenone-3, Colophonium (rosin), Ethanolamine compounds (MEA, DEA, TEA), Polyethylene (microplastics), Nanoparticles.

Of all the numerous nail polishes that I studied, I could only find one ingredient, benzophenone-1, from this list. Those ingredients are no longer found in formulas so the industry appears to have cleaned up and the 'free' claims are no longer relevant. We need to look at this new landscape for nail polish and what it means to be clean.

ingredient chart for nail polish formulas - are nail polishes clean?

Other Questions to Ask

Is it Child Labour-Free Mica? 

Mica, the mineral commonly used to add shimmer and sparkle to cosmetics, has been associated with unethical mining practices, including child labour in some regions. Look for companies who know their suppliers and have done their due diligence to source ethical mica.

Is it Cruelty-Free?

Cruelty-free nail polish brands ensure that their products are not tested on animals at any stage of production. 

Are there Plant-Based Ingredients?

Plants are making their way into nail polish formulas as advances in green chemistry continue. Using renewable resources over petroleum is imperative for a sustainable future.

Our Polishes

Pure Anada - Our traditional nail polish comes from an eco-friendly Canadian brand that formulates with ethical mica and is vegan cruelty-free. A beautiful range of unique and pretty colours.

Gelish & CND - Our gel nail polish comes from two companies that have created blends of monomers and polymers that have the strength but can also be removed without hurting the nail bed. These are preferable to the products that are exclusively monomers that tend to be used at express nail salons.