Poison in a bottle? What’s really in your nail polish!

I love nail polish . . . every brand, every colour, every price (well not every price, I can’t justify paying hundreds of rands on a bottle. that’s not ayoba)

When it comes to using cheaper nail polishes, I always say, a good base and top coat and it will work just the same . . . and I’m happy to report that it usually does.

The most expensive nail polish I ever bought to use on myself to date was R170 and it almost killed me to cough that up for nail polish.

Although gel seems to be taking over nail polish is still the most popular, because you can buy it everywhere and you don’t have to spend a fortune on a bottle.

A simple coat or three of nail polish can lift your spirits. And there are so many colours to choose from. The finishes, holographic, matte, velvet, suede, sparkles, the list goes on.


And with the whole nail art craze, I see more embellishments on a single nail than a bridal gown. Yes, this can happen when you’re hit with mani madness!

I have always been of the opinion that it’s fine to have a nail polish collection, I mean it doesn’t hurt or harm anyone. But can you harm yourself? Yes, you can.


Here are some chemicals commonly found in nail polishes:


Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) is commonly used plasticizer so this may help your nail polish from chipping but the ugly truth us that his stuff has carcinogenic properties. (A carcinogen is any substance is involved in causing cancer.)

This so bad that European Union banned the use of this substance in cosmetics, including nail polishes. The use of DBP has been restricted in the European Union for use in children’s toys since 1999.

In the USA, DBP, all major producers began eliminating this chemical from nail polishes in 2006. DBP was permanently banned in children’s toy in 2008.


Toluene is a solvent helps your nail polish go on smoother and it smells like paint stripper You can be exposed to it through your skin (this can cause skin irritations) and breathing it in, can be harmful to your nervous system over time. This has also been linked to causing cancer.


Formaldehyde is used chemical to preserve and embalm dead animals (and humans).   You know those jars you see in those mad scientist movies with those dead creatures in glass bottles, the stuff preserving that is this chemical. This

This is also a known carcinogen.

Formaldehyde resin is used in the production of coatings and adhesives, which make sure the nail polish adheres to the nail’s surface. This is not as toxic but is a known allergen.


Camphor is a poison that can cause seizures and disorientation if used in large doses. This chemical acts as a cover on your nails, depriving them of nutrients and causing yellow staining on your nails.

Now these are the 5 most common toxins in your nail polish but there could be 25 more and then some.


Now, you are not going to drop down dead because of these chemicals because we use so little at a time but there is such a thing called nail polish poisoning.

However, the point of this article is to empower you to make informed decisions about the products that you use. There are some certified ‘safe’ nail polishes you can use, so watch this space . . . more on that in my next blog.



There is in fact an article I found on nail polish poisoning. It’s an interesting read.


Link is down below




Beauty Bugle

 Sources regarding chemicals: wikipedia

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