Surprising Ingredients Found In Your Nail Polish

A splash of nail polish is all you need to look and feel put together. Whether you DIY or treat yourself to a manicure at the salon, it's worth every minute of your time to give your hands a finished look. But have you ever considered what nail polish is made of? Should we be worried about any surprising ingredients?

"No one is saying that the occasional manicure will cause long-term health consequences," Janet Nudelman, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics told The Independent. "But certain groups may be at higher risk." And Sabina Wizemann, a senior chemist in the Health, Beauty & Environmental Sciences Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, agrees. "Nail polishes contain solvents and some ingredients that can potentially cause health issues and irritation if inhaled in large quantities," Wizemann told Good Housekeeping

One example of a harmful solvent found in nail polish is triphenyl phosphate, which is actually a furniture fire retardant. A study conducted by Duke University and The Environmental Working Group found that nail polish chemical containing triphenyl phosphate entered the body and had the potential to cause harm to hormones. Other studies indicate that it may even contribute to weight gain and obesity.

Nail polish often contains harmful chemicals

Another surprising ingredient found in nail polish is wheat and sources of gluten (via The Celiac Diva). However, a study into nail polish ingredients found this is unlikely to affect toxicity. Instead, it's something for celiacs to be wary of.

The Independent refers to three particular chemicals often found in nail polish called the "toxic trio": formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and toluene. Basically, these three chemicals can damage not only your nails but your surrounding skin, too. According to Sherrille Riley, founder of London beauty boutique Nails & Brows, we should be avoiding these ingredients at all costs and opting for non-toxic nail polished instead.

"The skin around our fingers and cuticles is sensitive and absorbent, so non-toxic polishes tend to be kinder to nails, meaning less chance of drying out our nails and skin, which can cause irritation and inflammation," Riley explained. Many brands will identify as "three-free" or vegan, which is exactly what you should be going for. Wizemann recommends choosing nail polishes that are water-based if you're really worried about toxicity. "Water-based formulas incorporate non-synthetic pigments and aqueous acrylic polymers, plus they are also odorless," she told Good Housekeeping.

Once you find the perfect polish, make sure you avoid these mistakes that are destroying your nails.