Toxic Nail Polish Health Fears

Something to watch for. A new report out of California has found toxic nail polish that is labeled “Toxin-Free”, though the industry says the report is short on perspective. The labeling doesn’t seem to match the ingredients in the bottles according to Valetti Lang who is acting manager of a branch of the Department of Toxic Substances Control for the California EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).

Here’s how the study was done. The team of researchers bought 25 nail products in May 2011 and sent the samples to an independent laboratory who examined the samples for three chemicals known as the toxic trio – dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde. These substances have been a concern because of the potential health effects, especially to the salon workers who are constantly exposed to them.

The state investigators from California’s EPA tested nail color or lacquer as well as top coats, base coats, top coat/base coat combinations, polish thinner and nail art. Twelve of the products tested said they were free of one, two or all three of the chemicals. The other 13 made no such claims.

The only two products where the claim on the label matched the product in the bottle were:

- Color Madnic Luscious nail lacquer

- Zoya professional nail lacquer

Here are the products that made no claims on the label, but also didn’t have any of the three substances in the bottles:

- OPI Birthday Babe nail lacquer

- Cali nail polish thinner

- Essie Starter Wife 596 nail lacquer

- Out the Door topcoat

The products that didn’t measure up with claims of being free of either one, two or three of the toxic trio…

- Sation 99 base coat

- Sation 99 top coat

- Dare to Wear nail lacquer

- Chelsea 650 Baby’s Breath nail lacquer (fast dry)

- Poshe fast dry base coat

- Orly Flagstone Rush nail lacquer

- Nail art striper brush Magenta Glitter

- New York Summer nail color

- Paris Spicy 298 nail lacquer

- Sation 53 Red Pink nail color

As you can see, the researchers found that in many cases the label was inaccurate. What’s more, some products not labeled as “toxic free” had none of the three chemicals at all. The team does not know if their samples are representative of the industry at large.

Continues below…

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Some Nail Care Products Could Contain Toxic Chemicals… Continued…

The report will give information to the San Francisco Department of Environment’s recognition program, a voluntary one, for nail salons that use safer products on customers. This program was begun after the city (and county) of San Francisco enacted such an ordinance at the end of 2010. To be recognized as a safe salon, the establishment must use products without the toxic trio and other chemicals as well.

The Nail Manufacturers Council does not approve of inaccurate labeling. They also said that none of the levels given in the DTSC report offer a significant health or safety risk.

A statement from the Professional Beauty Association’s Nail Manufacturers Council said that the brands tested aren’t major brands and aren’t available in every salon. You can buy the products at beauty supply shops or online. Just be aware that chemicals with well-known health concerns could be in the products you buy, even if the label says “toxic free”.

Toxic nail polish and other toxin containing nail products are a bigger concern for salon technicians than consumers, still it’s smart to be aware and informed. There are other products besides nail care items that have these chemicals, and exposure can accumulate. If you’re worried, you might consider limiting the number of manicures or pedicures you get. Of course if you’re pregnant, you’ll want to skip the nail salon altogether.