What you should know before applying nail polish
Jan. 20, 2020
There's something about having painted nails that makes even the most mundane tasks a little more fun. A glimpse at sparkly nails or an eye-catching manicure design can add a bit of sunlight in the middle of a blurry work week, but some experts say that our mani-pedis may not be so healthy for us in other ways.
Nail polishes may contain toxic chemicals like dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde.
The chemicals in nail polish pose health risks that vary from reproductive problems to cancer. The three chemicals included in the study are considered a "toxic trio" because repeated exposure to these specific chemicals could lead to serious health problems."
Toluene: Used to keep the polish ingredients from separating, this chemical is also found in gasoline. Repeated exposure to this chemical causes damage to the nervous and reproductive systems. Less severe symptoms include headaches and eye and throat irritation.
Formaldehyde: This is added to polishes as a hardening agent and is used to disinfect manicure and pedicure tool. Repeated exposure to this chemical is linked to various cancers.
Dibutyl phthalate: This ingredient helps ensure the nail polish doesn't crack. Great for ensuring your polish job lasts a long time, the ingredient is actually banned in some countries.
While the average consumer is likely exposed via casual use -- that is, applying nail polish and gel or using nail polish remover -- the biggest threat of exposure actually occurs in salons.
Manicurists and pedicurists are at higher risk for health issues because beauty salons usually have poor or less than ideal ventilation and because they are exposed to the chemicals more often. Professionals in the nail industry report experiencing headaches and breathing difficulties.
You don't have to completely nix your manicures. If you want to minimize your exposure to the chemicals there are a few things you can do:
1. Choose a safe salon
Salons that are taking strides to be healthier, such as choosing non-toxic polishes and providing more ventilation.
2. Leave your nails polish free at least a few days per month
Remove your nail polish, and let your nails breathe freely for a few days each month. Not only does this reduce your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, it's actually good for your nails to get some fresh air too.
Are you worried about exposure to harmful chemicals when you get your nails painted? Make sure to share this information with your friends and family.
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