Have you noticed all of the creative designs and patterns on women’s nails these days?? It’s fascinating to me how much expression can be stated on nails and the seemingly unlimited variations.

Did you know that placing color on nails dates back to 3000 BC in China with a metallic like polish that is thought to have been used to distinguish ruling class from rest of society? Nail painting was also done in Ancient Egypt as henna has been found on the nails of mummified Pharaohs.

As the nail product industry has evolved, various chemical ingredients were added to help the color adhere to the nail and last despite activities that may chip the polish. Some of these ingredients are now considered toxic and there is a large movement towards creating healthier, less toxic nail polishes.

The “Toxic Trio” of the top three “toxic” nail polish ingredients are:

  • Toluene: ingredient that helps the polish to have a smooth finish, but can impact the nervous and reproductive system
  • Formaldehyde: used to harden nail polish and as a preservative to minimize microbe growth but is a known carcinogen
  • Dibutyl Phthalate: helps give the polish flexibility and prevents the polish from becoming brittle, but can impact the reproductive system

Back in the day, I used to get my nails done in the nail salon like clockwork. I loved feeling pampered and I became very close with my nail technician. I remember walking in there and being overwhelmed by the chemical smell, but as I sat down and got settled I adjusted and got used to it.

Over time I found I had a hard time going without my acrylic nails as when my nails underneath were exposed they felt raw and tender and broke very easily. I started to realize that maybe this wasn’t the best for my natural nails and switched to gel nails. But the same thing happened, so I started to just go to get a regular mani/pedi with just polish.

Then when I learned about the potential toxic ingredients in the polish, I decided to just paint my own nails at home and experiment with the different non-toxic polishes on the market. My nails are definitely not as pretty when I do them versus a professional, but I like knowing what’s in the products I’m using and love the flexibility to change the color out often depending on my mood and outfits. 🙂

So after much home experimentation, I found several non-toxic nail polish brands that I liked, but I also noticed that some of the less toxic nail polishes weren’t perfect either. They can have other ingredients in them that can create eye, lung and skin irritation. And, sometimes they wear off quickly, chip easily or there is another ingredient that also has some potential toxicity issues even though it’s not part of the “toxic trio”.

Given all of that, I found there are several less potentially toxic nail polish brands that I really like and use regularly! They also don’t stink as much as regular nail polish!

I don’t think that any of them last as long as regular “toxic” polish and they do chip, but I just keep a bottle on hand and touch them up when I need to.

Check them out and see what you think. I placed the links to their homepages in their descriptions so you can research them and see if any of them resonate with you.

My Top “Non-Toxic” Nail Polishes, in alphabetical order 🙂

  • Acquarella
    • A water-based nail polish that has a wide range of color options. This is one of the least stinky nail polishes I have ever owned! It dries relatively fast in 5-10 minutes. I apply it at night about 15-20 minutes before I go to sleep and it seems to help it “cure” overnight. I do have to reapply some of the chipped areas thru the week like most of these types of polishes, but it’s not that often. You do want to make sure your nails aren’t too dry and may want to apply oil to the nail and allow to dry before applying polish as water-based polishes are harder to remove on with dry nails. These are a bit pricey at around $16 per bottle.

  • Cote
    • Sooo many shades to chose from! And I just love their ” traveler” option of a mini-nail polish bottle as I always find I have to touch up when I’m out of town and it’s sooo nice to have small travel size polish that fits in my carry-on. These do have more of a nail polish scent than the others and I do find I have to touch these up often with all of my hand washing as a physician. Sometimes they lift and peel off. Easy to fix tho with a quick touch-up. These are also pricey at around $18 per bottle.

  • HoneyBee Gardens
    • Another water-based nail polish with about two dozen color options. This polish also doesn’t stink which is great when you want to do your nails around other people. This brand takes some time to dry, about 15-20 minutes to get it’s initial hardness but they say it may take 4-6 hours for maximum hardness. I would have to agree that this polish does best when I apply at night when all of my activities are done and allow it to harden overnight. You do want to make sure your nails aren’t too dry before applying and can apply oil to cuticle first as the dry nail makes it harder to remove this polish when the time comes. The price is about $13 per bottle

  • SOPHIi by Piggy Paint https://sophinailpolish.com/
    • If you have kids, you may have heard of PiggyPaint as it’s a non-toxic nail polish developed mostly to be kid friendly, however I love their fun pink colors! Well, in addition to their kid friendly Piggy Paint, they also have a sister brand called SOPHi. They have about three dozen color options. This is another water-based polish so be sure your nails aren’t too dry before applying. You can also dry this polish with a hair dryer in between layers to speed up the process. I do find they last longer when I use their whole system of prime, shine and seal. They are the most cost effective at about $8 per bottle and I get mine at my local Target. I just LOVE my bright pink Piggy Paint tho! Aren’t they fun?

There are a lot of other brands out there that I haven’t tried yet so have fun experimenting at home with different colors and brands get creative with your designs!

P.S. Removing these nail polishes does take longer than normal nail polish. I recommend purchasing the nail polish removers that come with each brand as your regular nail polish remover won’t work on these water-based polishes. Be prepared to set aside some time to remove the polish and do not scrape off the polish with a tool, just use a cotton swab soaked in the polish remover. It’s easier to remove the polish about 7 days after you apply it and then you can pick your next week’s color! Each polish will come with an instruction kit on how to apply and remove the polish for best results.