Slowly but surely, we’re all coming round to the fact that, actually, we shouldn’t just be eating healthily, we should be making sure that what we put on our skin is healthy, too. Makeup is in the midst of a ‘clean beauty’ makeover, but the nail polish industry has been lurking in the shadows somewhat, with many brands yet to reassess age-old formulas filled with potentially dangerous chemicals.
One glance at the ingredients list of your average bottle of polish throws up largely unpronounceable, scientific-sounding names like ‘formaldehyde’, ‘toluene’, ‘camphor’ and ‘triphenyl phosphate' (TPHP), so it’s understandable that many of us simply choose not to dwell and carry on selecting our favourite shade.
But when you consider studies that say chemicals in polish can be absorbed by the body in just 14 hours, it’s worth doing your research. Toluene is known to cause dizziness and may cause other central nervous system problems. TPHP, widely used as a fire retardant, is a suspected hormone disruptor. Formaldehyde is a proven carcinogen used to preserve dead bodies and could not be less glamorous.
It’s important to note that almost all polishes have some chemicals in them, so if you’re really worried, it’s best to use them sparingly or not at all – but we’ve tried some fabulous brands recently that are getting rid of the dodgiest nasties. None of these includes formaldehyde or formaldehyde resin, toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or camphor (they're known as ‘5-free’) while those taking the top prizes have also banned xylene, ethyl tosylamide and triphenyl phosphate from their formulas ('8-free'). They’re all also lovely polishes in their own right, offering fantastic shades and high-quality finishes that more than rival those of less health-conscious brands.