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Nail Polish Safety – Health, Animal Cruelty, and Vegan Concerns

Guide to Nail Polish Concerns

Recently there has been a lot of talk about nail polish safety, and the toxic chemicals they may contain. I already wrote a post about all the chemicals, but what about other ways that nail polish affects the world? Like our furry friends…

Nail Polish Concerns

Cruelty Free Nail Polish

One biggie for me is to make sure that I’m aware of products that are tested on animals. After writing this article I’m actually a bit appalled at how many companies still do test on animals and the current state of affairs in the industry. Be informed and a friend to the animals and only support cruelty free brands! Cruelty free brands do not test on animals, but they may still use animal products. Find out more about cruelty free cosmetics through “Beauty Without Bunnies” by PETA.

Other useful cruelty free resources:

Environmental Protection

Environmental Impact

Some brands are more responsible than others when it comes to their overall environmental impact. This can include more than just the chemicals they use, or even their manufacturing processes, but also their overall ethics, human relations, brand relations, animal testing, etc.

  • The Good Guide – “Find safe, healthy, green AND ethical product reviews based on scientific ratings.
  • Shop Ethical – Ethical consumer guide.

Toxic Chemicals

Last week I wrote an in depth post about the different chemicals in nail polish, and explained what “Big-Free” nail polish means. Check it out if you want to find out more about what is actually in your nail polish.

Vegan Nail Polish

Vegan nail polish brands take cruelty free a step further and are also completely free of any animal products. Did you know that some “pearlescent” and shimmery shades contain crushed beetles or even fish scales to get that “pretty” effect? That’s kinda gross…

Useful vegan resources:

Water Based Nail Polish

Water based nail polishes are typically free from all the chemicals listed here and more, and are low-odor because of this. They are also touted as being less likely to stain your nails, removable by soaking in water alone, and less likely to dry out over time. You can find a quite a few water based brand nail polishes online.

Big Free Polish Application

How to Paint Your Nails Safely

Here are a few tips on how you can paint your nails safely and avoid or minimize your exposure to harmful toxins, no matter what type of nail polish you end up using:

  • Ask Questions – Not sure about that polish you want to use? Can’t find the information you are looking for online or anywhere? Don’t be afraid to reach out directly to the nail polish brand and ask your questions. You can usually find contact information on their website – just make sure to check their FAQ section first as many beauty brands address these types of questions there.
  • Basecoat – If you only choose one formula that is 5-free, make it’s your basecoat. This way your first coat that actually comes in contact with your skin is “safe” – then you can layer more questionable polishes on top.
  • Beware of Skins Condition – Make sure to do a patch tests for allergies and don’t use any products on open wounds which can lead to increased chemical exposure and infection.
  • Dispose Responsibly – Be aware of how to safely dispose of old nail polish, unused nail polish removers and other toxic nail products. These types of products should not be poured down any drain or thrown in the trash.
  • Follow Instructions – Read any instructions provided and follow them to avoid complications. Pay special attention to mixing procedures and ratios, repeated use warnings, and length of use.
  • Keep Food and Drink Safe – Kind of a no-brainer, but make sure any drinks or snacks are free from the “splash” zone or are covered. I personally like what I call an “adult sippy cup” – a tumbler complete with a lid and straw. 😉
  • Read Labels – Before using any new products or nail polish, take a few minutes to throughly read the label, ingredients list, and any instructions. This way you can be informed about the product, check for any allergies, and avoid hassle and wasted time from product misuse.
  • Store Responsibly – Avoid spillage and keep small children and pets out of your supplies by properly storing your nail polish and nail art supplies in secure containers in a safe location. Some products, such as acetone, can only be stored in a proper grade plastic or glass container or the product can actually melt it’s container. Be careful!
  • Ventilation – This is likely the most important tip listed here. It’s always smart to paint your nails in a well-ventilated area with lots of natural air flow. Or if you opt to get your nails done by a professional, choose a salon that does not have a strong odor and is very obviously well ventilated. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Wash Your Hands – Simple, yet affective way to be hygienic – wash your hands before and after painting your nails or using chemicals such as nail polish remover.



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