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Your nail polish may look pretty, but is it safe? Here’s why you may want to consider switching to a brand that’s conscious about chemicals.

If you’ve ever held your breath when walking past a nail studio due to the overpowering odours wafting out the door and wondered if there is a dark side to the polish palette… Unfortunately, you’d be right.

The reality is, there is no such thing as ‘natural’ nail polishes – they’re all a kind of paint, many of them contain chemicals that are known to be pretty concerning when it comes to our health.

5 Toxic Chemicals commonly found in nail polish

  1. Toluene – A solvent that is listed as a restricted ingredient for use in cosmetics by the European Commission, the global authority for cosmetic ingredients.It can cause headaches and other neurological symptoms and is also considered a reproductive hazard. 
  2. Benzophenone – A group of chemicals that contribute to the stability of the colour in nail polishes. Studies by the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption show strong evidence that benzophenone contains hormone disrupting properties and the Environmental Working Group has assessed it as high risk of being a skin allergen.
  3. Formaldehyde – A known carcinogen and respiratory toxin.
  4. Xylene has been researched and is classified as an irritant and respiratory toxin.
  5. Parabens – Found to be hormone disrupting by the Environmental Working Group.

Avoiding the nasties with cleaner ingredients

The good news is there are better choices available. Some nail polish brands now aim to reduce the health risks to consumers by incorporating cleaner ingredients and leaving out questionable chemicals in their formulas. You may have noticed nail polish marketing around 3-free, 5-free, 7-free and more recently, 10-free. When it comes to safety, what’s left out is as important as what’s included, so the higher the number, the safer it is. 10-free is a way of letting people know that the nail polish brand has replaced ten of the ingredients commonly considered to be ‘nasty’ with better ingredients. 10-free nail polishes do NOT contain: Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate, Formaldehyde, Camphor, Formaldehyde Resin, Ethyl tosylamide, Xylene, Parabens, Phthalates and Benzophenone.

Why are nail polishes allowed if they contain harmful ingredients?  

There is a huge wave of consumers demanding safer cosmetics. A study led by Duke University and the public health advocacy organisation Environmental Working Group suggests that we absorb at least one potentially hormone-disrupting chemical (triphenyl phosphate, or TPP) each time we get our nails done. And while the long-term health impacts are not yet clear, we think that’s a cause for concern. After all, when you think about what our hands come into contact with on a daily basis, when we’re cooking and eating, surely it’s in our best interest to opt for nail polish that has the best ingredients possible.

Better choices have never been easier

“At HealthPost, our mission is to make it easier to choose products that are both better for you and better for the planet. That’s why we have incredibly high standards when it comes to the products we stock. We understand that many people still want to wear nail polish from time to time, even if it isn’t 100 per cent ‘natural’. With that in mind, we assessed many ‘clean’ nail polish brands to find the best one that has the safest ingredients available in Australasia.” - Liz McNamara, HealthPost’s Natural Health Expert.

Why Hanami Nail Colour wins 

Australian naturopath, Hannah Jones founded Hanami in 2016 to fulfil her desire for locally made beauty products that were safe for humans and the environment. While this range is not Good Ingredients Approved, it is a better choice. After extensive research, we found the Hanami range to be one of the cleanest brands available. Hanami nail polish is '10-free', meaning they are free from dibutyl phthalate, TPHP, toluene, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, parabens, and tert-butyl hydroperoxide. They do however contain N-butyl alcohol, a fragrance ingredient in their polishes, as well as propylene glycol, PEG40, and DMDM hydantoin in their polish removers, ingredients which are otherwise on our Red List. They are certified vegan, cruelty free, Wudu friendly and breathable to maintain nail health. We’ve put together a list of 7 Hanami colours to improve your moods – check it out here.

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