Nail Polish Chemicals: The Toxic Trio
Posted by Shifrah on Monday, January 09, 2012
The Allergy Consumer Report recently covered the topic of toxic ingredients in nail polish in the series, Toxic Indoor Air in Nail Salons, Parts One and How Toxic is Your Nail Polish Really?.

The toxic trio comprises three extremely toxic chemicals that, until recently, were found in almost all nail polishes: formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate, or DBP. As the article describes:

"Formaldehyde … is a known human carcinogen and can also cause eye, throat, nose and skin irritation. DBP is a known reproductive and developmental toxin, while toluene is a possible reproductive and developmental toxin and can also cause headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. All of these chemicals can be absorbed into the body through the nail bed."

In 2006 and 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics exerted enough pressure on the nail polish industry to prompt some companies, such as OPI, Sally Hansen, and Orly, to phase out all or some of the toxic trio chemicals.

The European Union went so far as to ban DBP, but the United States does not restrict its usage in beauty products. As with so many matters , particularly related to chemicals contained in everyday household items, we cannot count on government agencies – and certainly not production companies – to keep us safe from toxic products; rather, consumers must educate themselves and check labels.

Check out the Environmental Working Group's Cosmetics Database for a comprehensive database of personal products and their toxicity ratings.

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