The Dangers of Nail Polish

Painted nails look lovely, but they can be dangerous, too. An article published by Harvard Medical School confirmed that there are health hazards caused by nail polish. However, not all of them are hazardous. Some nail polish formulas are still non-toxic.

There are many adverse effects of nail polish on health. Before purchasing or applying them to your nails, you must know certain facts about nail polish. Health and beauty must go hand in hand. Don’t compromise your health to stay beautiful. Get to know the contents and the effects of nail polish on health.

The Dangers of the Wrong Nail Polish

Take note: the suitable nail polish won’t cause you harm. It’s the cosmetics with toxic chemicals you have to watch out for. So before purchasing or getting your nails done in salons, look at the labels. Toluene, Formaldehyde, Dibutyl Рhthalate, Xylene, and Lead are common toxic chemicals in your nail polish.

Products with these chemicals can cause serious damage to your health.

Chemicals in Your Nail Polish

Red polish nail art


This chemical is present in both nail polish and polish removers. Toluene in nail polish helps smooth hardeners and is used in polish removers because of its ability to dissolve substances, such as resins and plasticizers.

Acute to high toluene inhalation exposure can cause headaches, fainting, and nausea. Serious effects of Toluene on the body include the weakening of the central nervous system and some reproductive disorders. This chemical is significantly dangerous to pregnant women. Therefore, it is best not to get your nails done once you are pregnant.


Formaldehyde is used to harden nail polish and to prevent bacterial growth in nails. Formaldehyde is only dangerous if it is used in high concentration levels.

Exposure to a high level of concentration in air or your skin may cause skin irritation or any allergic reactions. Exposure to your nails will cause your nails to peel, brittle, or even break. In addition, long and high concentration levels of exposure to formaldehyde pose serious health risks, such as cancer of the throat and nose.

Dibutyl Рhthalate

Dibutyl Рhthalate, or DBP, is often used in nail polish as a solvent for dyes and as a plasticizer to prevent the nail polish from becoming brittle. DBP is also used as a fragrance for nail polish.

Inhaling this chemical can cause changes in hormones. It can also cause problems in the respiratory tract and gynecological disorders, especially when the chemical is absorbed through the skin. When that happens, it can encourage other chemicals to cause genetic mutations and cause fetal development defects.


Xylene in nail polish is used as a solvent that prevents nail polish from getting lumpy. Like DBP, Xylene also gives nail polish their distinguished odor.

Xylene is clinically proven to be a common allergen. Vapors of Xylene, when absorbed by the skin, can cause skin irritation, eye irritation, nausea, headaches, and dizziness.


Lead and other heavy metals are often used in cosmetics to increase pigmentation. Lead helps bring out the color in your nail polish.

Lead is harmful to every organ in our body. When absorbed in large quantities, lead may cause serious damage to our brain and kidney.

Should you quit putting on nail polish?

Not necessarily. However, you are encouraged to choose the right nail polish by avoiding products with these chemicals in it. We are also encouraging you not to apply nail polish so frequently to prevent damaging your nails.

What could be the alternative?

There are many “clean” beauty products in the market that you can easily purchase. If you are fond of going to salons, you may opt to bring your nail polish that does not contain any of the chemicals listed above. You can also opt to paint your nails to prevent inhaling large amounts of those chemicals.

How should you choose your polish?

Many companies have changed their formulas because of the health hazards caused by the nail polish that they produce. They have crossed chemicals that are considered to be toxic and change them with safer options.

How do you know when nail polish is non-toxic? Look for these terms written on the product’s label:


These products do not contain five toxic chemicals: formaldehyde, DBP, toluene, formaldehyde resin, and camphor.


This means that formaldehyde, DBP, toluene, formaldehyde resin, camphor, xylene, and thyl tosylamide are crossed out from the formula.


These products do not contain Formaldehyde, DBP, toluene, formaldehyde resin, camphor, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, parabens, and acetone are not present in the nail polish.


These products do not contain Formaldehyde, DBP, toluene, formaldehyde resin, camphor, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, parabens, acetone, TBHP, TPHP, and gluten are not found in the product.

Get your nails painted in the healthiest way. Be wary of the effects of beauty products on your health by checking the labels.