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Michelle Warner

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Monday Morsel ~ Nail Nirvana

Posted on August 9th, 2010

Monday Morsel

sometimes random.
sometimes deep.
just a little something
to begin your week.

As you know, I have endured quite a health crisis the last nine months. Because of this, I have been reading many books and articles about healthy living. I don’t want to keep it all to myself so I decided each Monday I would share with you some of what I am learning. Hopefully, as a result of these weekly morsels, we can implement changes in our lives gradually and become healthier one step at a time.


I admit I have always loved to paint my nails…and I love receiving pedicures and manicures even more. So when I stumbled on this news about nail polish, my heart sank.

Most nail polishes are made with phthalates, toluene, and formaldehyde. I was most concerned when I read that formaldehyde was used in nail polish because not long ago I read an article on CNN (see first article listed below) that listed formaldehyde as a carcinogen (“any substance or agent that tends to produce cancer”).  When I looked at the ingredients in my nail polish, most contained formaldehyde which is also listed as formalin, formic aldehyde, Merthaldehyde, methanal, methyl aldehyde, oxomethane, or oxymethylene.

We also need to be equally concerned about phthalates (specifically Dibutyl phthalate or DBP). This toxin is also listed in the CNN article referenced above. I learned that phthalates mimic estrogen and may lead to birth defects and reproductive problems. Given what I’ve gone through health-wise, this is enough to cause me to sit up and listen! Another interesting morsel to note regarding phthalates is that they are often encompassed under the title “fragrance” (which I have found in many, many products).

Unfortunately, the two dangerous ingredients discussed above aren’t the only ones we should avoid. Toluene is a chemical I had never heard of before all of my reading since cancer, but I definitely will be taking notice of it in the future. It is believed to be a nervous-system toxin used in nail polish to help it adhere smoothly and may appear on ingredients labels as phenylmethane, methylbenzene, or toluol.

So what can we do if we still want to use nail polish but don’t want to expose our bodies to harmful toxins?

  • Read the labels of the ingredients in your nail polish. Thankfully, many nail polish manufacturers have removed these harmful ingredients. However, don’t forget to double check the bottle to make sure the ingredients listed are not harmful!
  • Contact manufactures of products containing “fragrance” to make sure DBP (or other phthalates) are not used.

Here’s to hoping this Monday Morsel leads to a healthier you and me!

List of non-toxic nail polish products:

**I am sure there are now many others so feel free to chime in on the comments section if you have found a nail polish that is free of these toxins.

Safer nail polish remover:

For more information:

3 Comments on “Monday Morsel ~ Nail Nirvana”

  • LF says:

    Hey! This little feature is great Michelle. When I was pregnant, I found out about all the chemicals in nail polish and did not paint my toes the whole time…until I discovered that a local Maternity Spa used “healthy” polishes. They use the Zoya brand…which I have seen sold at some Krogers stores.

    I don’t know if you have seen this site, but it lists common beauty products and the “healthiness” of them :) It is crazy to see all the junk in some of the producs we use.

  • Noel says:

    You must try Hopscotch Kids! They have beautiful, vibrant colors and take safety further than most other “safe” polishes as they are water based and they use absolutely NO petrochemical solvents, no coal tar (lake colors) and the finish is salon quality. Right now they only have the kids line, but their adult line, Scotch is due to launch this fall. Check them out: and

  • Beth J says:

    Thanks Michelle! Looking forward to this on a weekly basis!

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