Minimizing Nail Polish

I used to do nail art on my nails. I did it myself on my natural nails and I got many compliments on my work. I took a real sense of pride in my nails and taking an hour to paint my nails was a self-care exercise that I enjoyed immensely. I tell you this because a few years ago, I learned about toxins in nail polish and made the decision to stop painting my nails. I made a commitment to myself to reduce the toxins on my person and in my home. And that meant giving up some of the activities, rituals and self-care routines that I was practicing. I accepted this as a positive in my life, not a negative. I’m helping my body heal and that’s a bigger and more beneficial self-care commitment. (If you prefer video, scroll to the bottom of this page.)

I’m not going to assume that you’re ready to give up your nail routine. So, regardless of where you are at with your decision to use nail polish, it’s still time to pull out your colour collection where you can see them. Along with any nail care supplies you may have.

If your nail polish is thick, gloopy, or dry – toss it. If you have colours or brands you don’t like, toss ‘em! Only keep your favourites that are in good condition and you actually use.

Nail polish is full of toxins, you know this because you can smell it as soon as you crack open the lid. Studies have shown that these chemicals are absorbed into the body. Here’s just a few:

  • Phthalates: Often found in nail polish, fragrances and hairspray is estrogen/hormone disruptor. Hormone disruptors are chemicals that mimic our natural hormones and our body can put a chemical in place of a natural hormone which disrupts the body’s ability to do it’s job properly.
  • Toluene: Often found in nail polish – exposure to toluene can cause eye and nose irritation, tiredness, confusion, euphoria, dizziness, headache, dilated pupils, tears, anxiety, muscle fatigue, insomnia, nerve damage, inflammation of the skin, and liver and kidney damage.
  • Formaldehyde: Recognized by the National Cancer Institute as a potential cancer-causing substance, is found in nail polish. 

There have never been any studies on the effects of all of the chemicals combined that our bodies are exposed to day in and day out. And many of those chemicals are in the ground, in the air and saturate our environment, it’s impossible to avoid them. All the more reason, I believe, to reduce chemical exposure where we can, particularly on our own bodies and in our homes. For this reason, I opted to stop using nail polish all together. If that idea intrigues you but you’re not sure, consider reducing your nail polish use to special occasions. There are some “natural” nail polishes and “reduced chemical” nail polishes on the market. Perhaps consider those as alternate options.

A note about gel polish. It is hardened under a UV light. The ultraviolet light is known to cause cellular damage and aging and can increase the risk of skin cancer. And let’s also consider that removing gel nails is destructive to your natural nails. Removing the nails involves soaking in acetone along with aggressive buffing, scraping and peeling of polish (Eek, writing that makes me cringe.)

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