Nail polish sparkled on my fingers and toes for many years. And where’s there’s nail polish there’s a need for nail polish remover. When I was working as an attorney I allowed myself a weekly escape from the office for an hour or so for some needed pampering-a manicure was generally the pampering of choice. Looking back at those weekly appointments it’s hard to forget the smell of that nail salon. The fumes literally took my breath away each time I walked in. I also remember the salon employees wearing surgical masks as they removed the old polish and applied the new. In hindsight that probably should have been a red flag, but I never really gave it much thought.
Once I started a family I stopped wearing nail polish altogether. I was a new mom of three and barely had time to comb my hair, let alone apply nail polish. A few years have passed and now I’m enjoying wearing nail polish again-mostly on my toes. However I like to think I’m a bit wiser and now pay closer attention to what goes on my little piggies. I’ve discovered that not all nail polish removers are created equal.
The good news
Most major nail polish companies no longer use the “toxic trio”, toluene, formaldehyde or phthalates, which have been linked to asthma, cancer and reproductive problems. Thankfully there are also safer alternatives to conventional nail polish. I made the switch to non-toxic nail polish and nail polish remover. I now bring my own when I go for a mani-pedi.
What about nail polish remover?
When the time comes to take off the polish, either at home or in the salon, the smell of conventional nail polish remover can knock your socks off-and not in a good way.
Many polish removers and artificial nail products contain a host of toxic chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer, reproductive harm, asthma and other negative health effects. Many conventional nail polish removers use acetone and other chemical liquid solvents (ethyl acetate or butyl acetate, and alcohol) to dissolve your polish. Acetone is a clear, strong-smelling and highly flammable liquid solvent. This stuff is so strong that it can even disintegrate plastic and other solid materials. Hearing “liquid solvent” is enough to make me run the other way. Should we be putting this stuff on our bodies? I think not.
A safer option to acetone in nail polish remover
If you’re in the market for a safe nail polish remover use these tips to help:
- Don’t use nail polish remover that contains acetone.
- Exposure to high levels of acetone can cause death, coma, unconsciousness, seizures, and respiratory distress. It can damage your kidneys and the skin in your mouth. Breathing moderate-to-high levels of acetone for short periods of time can cause nose, throat, lung, and eye irritation. It can also cause intoxication, headaches, fatigue, stupor, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, increased pulse rate, nausea, vomiting, and shortening of the menstrual cycle in women.
- If your nail polish remover doesn’t contain acetone read the label and make sure the other ingredients are safe. Generally non-acetone removers usually contain ethyl acetate. Made from ethanol and acetic acid, ethyl acetate is colorless and also flammable. Not a great alternative.
- Find a nail polish remover that’s water based, not solvent based.
- BYOP-bring your own polish and nail polish remover to the salon.
A few safe nail polish removers options
- Hopscotch Kids Soy Nail Polish Remover
- Acquarella Nail Polish Remover
- Soy Nail Polish Remover by Priti
- No Miss Almost Natural Vegan Polish Remover
Remember: Traditional nail polish removers take the polish right off. Be prepared with a water- based nail polish remover to spend a bit more time and a lot more muscle to dissolve the polish. It’s worth it.
Do you wear nail polish and use nail polish remover? What brands are your favorite?