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Non-Toxic Nail Polish: Which Ingredients to Avoid and 12 of the Best Brands

From three-free to 10-free.

It's common knowledge that most nail polish ingredients aren't exactly good for you.

Not only can they damage your nails over time, but they can also be toxic to inhale.

From The Styling Edit Archives

Which is why nail polish companies have been hard at work figuring out how to remove them from their formulas, without sacrificing performance!

It used to be that three-free polishes were the standard, but now we're seeing five-, seven- and even 10-free offerings.

Here are the key ingredients you probably want to avoid—and which brands to look for!

Nail Polish Ingredients to Avoid

  • Formaldehyde: This is actually only found in hardening products, not regular polishes. It is a known human carcinogen and an irritant to the skin, eyes, nose and throat.
  • Formaldehyde resin: This helps the polish adhere to the nail. It's not dangerous like formaldehyde (the chemical process to create the resin changes it), but it can be allergenic.
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP): This is a plasticizer that makes the polish more flexible in order to stop it from chipping and cracking. It is linked to hormone disruption. 
  • Toluene: This chemical makes the polish go on smoothly, so it's easy to apply. It is linked to headaches, dizziness and fatigue, and is a possible reproductive and developmental toxin.
  • Camphor: This is another plasticizer, like DBP. Some people find it irritating.
  • Xylene: This is a solvent that ensures your nail polish stays the right consistency. Inhaling it can cause eye and skin irritation, headaches, nausea and dizziness.
  • Ethyl tosylamide: This is a plasticizer that helps nail polish to dry quickly. It is linked to antibiotic resistance.
  • Triphenyl phosphate (THTP): This chemical makes polish more flexible and durable. Studies show that it is a hormone disruptor and is associated with fertility problems.
  • Parabens: These are preservatives that prevent bacterial growth. They have been shown to exert estrogenic effects.
  • Lead: This metal is found in certain nail polish pigments, and may cause fatigue, headaches, memory loss, miscarriages and premature births.

Now, on to the best five-, seven- and 10-free brands!

Five-Free Nail Polish

Five-free nail polishes don't contain formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, toluene or camphor.

Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour

Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in Coromandel

Where to buy:Nordstrom

Dior Vernis Nail Lacquer

Dior Vernis Gel Shine & Long Wear Nail Lacquer in Wizz

Where to buy: Nordstrom

OPI Nail Lacquer

OPI Nail Lacquer in Malaga Wine

Where to

Seven-Free Nail Polish

Seven-free nail polishes don't contain formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, toluene, camphor, xylene or ethyl tosylamide.

cote Nail Polish

cote Nail Polish in Brown Cream

Where to buy: Goop

Deborah Lippmann Nail Lacquer

Deborah Lippmann Nail Lacquer in Sweet Emotion

Where to buy:Nordstrom

Eight-Free Nail Polish

Eight-free nail polishes don't contain formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, toluene, camphor, xylene, ethyl tosylamide or THTP.

Butter London Nail Lacquer

Butter London Nail Lacquer in Bang On!

Where to buy:Nordstrom

Smith & Cult Nail Lacquer

Smith & Cult Nail Lacquer in Pillow Pie

Where to buy:Nordstrom

Tenoverten Nail Polish

Tenoverten Nail Polish in Hudson

Where to buy:Net-a-Porter

10-Free Nail Polish

Ten-free nail polishes don't contain formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, toluene, camphor, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, THTP, parabens or lead.

JINsoon Nail Lacquer

JINsoon Nail Lacquer in Pastiche

Where to buy: Nordstorm

Kure Bazaar Nail Polish

Kure Bazaar Nail Polish in Mademoiselle K

Where to buy:The Detox Market

Zoya Professional Lacquer

Zoya Professional Lacquer in Kristen

Where to buy:

Water-Based Nail Polish

Water-based nail polishes don't contain formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, formaldehyde derivatives, DBP, toluene, camphor, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, THTP, parabens, lead, petrochemical solvents, phthalates, polyurethane, polyurethane film-formers, mercury, FD&C dyes, coal tar, gluten, wheat by-products or aromatic hydrocarbons.

Acquarella Nail Polish

Acquarella Nail Polish in Magdalena

Where to buy:

Are you concerned about chemicals in your nail polish?
Have you tried any of these brands?