How to Choose Low Tox Nail Polish & Natural Nail Care Products

How to Choose Low Tox Nail Polish & Natural Nail Care Products

If you’re conscious about the ingredients you use on your body, you might be wondering how nail polish fits into the picture. In today’s blog, we’re diving into the world of less toxic nail polishes and nail care products. With growing awareness of the potential drawbacks of traditional formulations, many beauty enthusiasts (like myself!) are opting for alternatives that offer the same vibrant hues, but without all the junk. Let’s explore how you can make more informed choices and find healthier options for all of your nail care needs!


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Table of contents:

Does Non-Toxic Nail Polish Exist? 💅

First things first, do you notice how this post is titled “LOW tox” nail polish and not “NON-toxic?” That’s intentional! I want to make it clear that there is no such thing as organic or truly non-toxic nail polish. Why? Because you essentially need something that acts like paint and you can’t achieve that with non-synthetic ingredients alone.

But don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to give up nail polish altogether! Because there are better options out there and ways you can make it a safer experience. Plus, I am a big proponent of balance and wiggle room when it comes to holistic living; you don’t have to give up everything you love for the sake of being crunchy.

Just keep in mind that even the “cleaner” nail polishes are not 100% perfectly pure. And it might be a good idea to consider how frequently you use it, especially on younger kids!

Related post: “64+ Clean Makeup, Skincare, & Personal Care Products for Teens and Tweens

How to Pick Safer Nail Polish & Ingredients to Avoid ❌

The first thing you might notice as you delve into low tox nail polish is the #-Free labeling system. Basically, you’ll see brands use “15-Free, 10-Free, 8-Free, etc.” to describe how many potentially harmful ingredients are NOT in their nail polish.

This can be a helpful starting point, but take note that a higher number doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better or cleaner option, since there is no regulation behind it all. For example, two separate brands could both be 10-Free, but what those exact ten ingredients are might be completely different. I’ve also seen 20-Free brands that have worse ingredients than 10-Free brands.

Here’s some perspective as to why a cleaner nail polish brand, Sienna Byron Bay, stepped away from the labeling system:

“When non-toxic nail polish arrived to support our health, planet, and our manis, the X-Free branding of nail polish was developed to show people the number of chemicals a polish is free from. But over time, this has turned into something of a marketing arms race. With no cosmetic governing body, the X-Free labeling got out of hand very quickly.”

Nail Polish Ingredients to Avoid

Instead, I always recommend double-checking the ingredient list on a nail polish label. Here are some common culprits and the main offenders to look out for in nail products:
  • Acetone: A dissolver (usually found in removers) associated with organ toxicity
  • Benzophenone-1: Used to scatter UV rays and prevent discoloration, but may be contaminated with carcinogenic benzene and is a hormone disruptor (this is a common one that many “X-Free” brands still include)
  • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA): A preservative tied to endocrine disruption, organ damage, and cancer
  • Camphor: Used as a fragrance and plasticizer but is associated with allergic reactions, irritation, and neurotoxic symptoms
  • Ethyl Tosylamide: A film former and plasticizer
  • Formaldehyde and Tosylamide Formaldehyde Resin (TSFR): Preservatives that are known human carcinogens and may be contaminated with nitrosamines
  • Nonylphenol Ethoxylate: Used as a surfactant
  • Parabens: Endocrine-disrupting preservatives
  • Phthalates (such as DBP, dibutyl phthalate): Plasticizers that are tied to hormone disruption, developmental toxicity, and cancer
  • Toluene: A solvent linked to respiratory issues, liver damage, neurotoxicity, and often contaminated with benzene
  • Triphenyl Phosphate (TPHP): An endocrine-disrupting plasticizer and neurotoxin
  • Xylene: A thinning solvent linked to respiratory irritation, nausea, headaches, and kidney/liver damage with long-term exposure

(sources and studies linked below)

And if you’re wondering whether the ingredients applied to your nails actually penetrate your body, the answer is yes! Researchers at Duke University tested the urine of women who had recently painted their nails and found evidence of TPHP in every participant—their levels increased sharply after application! 😲

If you’re interested in switching to cleaner personal care products and want to learn more, download your copy of the Clean Beauty 101 ebook! It’s the perfect resource to help make the transition seamless and stress-free.

Get the Clean Beauty 101 eBook!

Clean & Low Tox Nail Products (Polish, Gel, Remover, Cuticle Oil, Accessories!)

Becca’s Favorite Low Tox Nail Polish Brand: Huella

Pronounced “hyoo-la.” Huella is my fave brand—they’re the best! They are considered 10-Free but are cleaner than many of the X-Free brands out there. The products are also vegan, cruelty-free, and made in the USA. Additionally, I find them to be quite long-lasting and chip-resistant!

Huella 10-Free Nail Polish

I love how much variety they offer too; you can choose from dozens of colors and finishes (shimmer, glitter, flat, etc.) and they have top coat, base coat, and prep formulas. My go-to shade is “All The Sage” which is a pretty pastel color. PRO TIP: Pop off the removable cap from the polish bottle and use it to rest your fingers on as you apply!

Better Off Nail Lacquer Remover: Huella’s remover is soy-based and contains NO acetone or alcohol! You can either dip your finger in or use the little pad to buff away color and remove polish. It does take a bit longer compared to conventional removers (and is on the oily side), but it works well! Plus it has ingredients that enrich and promote strong, moisturized nails. And I appreciate that it has a light lavender scent (unlike most removers which smell like straight-up chemicals 🤢).

Huella also has all of the accessories you might need:

You can use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount 🏷️

Shop Huella Here

Bare Hands Manicure Kit and Huella Nail Polish

At-Home Manicure: Bare Hands Dry Gloss Manicure Kit

If you don’t want to spend money on professional salon manicures, this kit is so handy (pun intended) for DIYing at home. It’s packed in a chic vegan leather case and includes:

  • A polisher (made of glass and minerals) to buff away the top layer of keratin and reveal shiny nails
  • Natural cuticle oil twist-up pen to hydrate and condition
  • Cloth to wipe away dust as you work
  • Angled wooden sticks to push back cuticles

Bare Hands Dry Gloss Manicure Kit Cuticle Oil

Honestly, I’m always SO shocked at how shiny my nails are after using it! Like seriously, they look 10x healthier, and it gives a nice glow that lasts about a week (depending on the thickness of your nails).

You can use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount 🏷️

Shop Bare Hands Kit Here

Also available here on Amazon.

Best Gel Polish: Dazzle Dry

If you’re looking for a gel polish swap, here ya go! Gel polish typically lasts longer than regular polish and is less prone to chipping, but it does often require some sort of UV light to dry it. However, Dazzle Dry is unique because it doesn’t need any UV light to set, it won’t turn your nails yellow (doesn’t contain nitrocellulose), and can be taken off with your normal remover!

Dazzle Dry 5-Free Gel Polish

The brand is vegan, cruelty-free, and 5-Free (but there are more than five ingredients that they avoid). For best results, it’s recommended that you follow the 4-step system (prep, base coat, lacquer, and top coat). I like the “Adore Me” shade which is a light, muted bubblegum pink with purple undertones!

Shop Dazzle Dry Here

Dazzle Dry Adore Me Nail Polish
Wearing Dazzle Dry’s “Adore Me” shade without any prep, base, or top coat
How to get stronger nails from within: collagen!

Participants in a 2017 study took collagen daily and saw a 12% increase in their nail growth rate, a 42% decrease in frequency of broken nails, and 64% of them saw improvement in brittleness. Nice! My preferred brand of collagen peptides is Perfect Supplements because it’s grass-fed, pasture-raised, lab-tested for purity, and certified free of glyphosate residue. Use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount!

Other Safer Nail Polish Brands on the Market:

BONUS: Natural Products for Beautiful Hands & Feet

Wanna give yourself a mani or pedicure? Hands and feet need some TLC? Try these!

Natural Products for Beautiful Hands & Feet

You might also enjoy this post:

6 Best Natural & Organic Hand Creams to Moisturize Dry Skin


In summary, while achieving entirely non-toxic nail polish isn’t realistic, healthier replacements do exist! Look beyond #-Free labels and scrutinize ingredient lists for perps such as toluene and xylene. Thankfully brands like Huella offer durable, cleaner alternatives that allow us to have more mindful manicures. Let me know in the comments if you have any thoughts or questions. Thanks so much for reading and I hope you found some new faves yourself 💚

Becca Signature

Sources & Studies:

 

 

How to Choose Low Tox Nail Polish & Natural Nail Care Products

Written by: Becca

Becca is a blogger, wife, and dog mom living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Having seen firsthand the benefits of switching to a natural lifestyle herself, she's passionate about helping women make the switch to clean beauty products, organic skincare, and a holistic way of life (without the stress of being perfect about it!).

2 comments on “How to Choose Low Tox Nail Polish & Natural Nail Care Products”

  1. Good to see there are a handful of low tox and safer nail polish brands. Have you tried Kapanui Nails? When looking at their ingredients, they fall within this category. The nail polish doesn’t have a smell.

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