Nail Polish Ingredients: What to Avoid!

Acquarella Nail Polish

Toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) are the three major ingredients to avoid when purchasing nail polish. All three are toxic, a substance which can do damage to living and non-living organisms.

  • Toluene is typically found in paint thinner, paints, ink, adhesives, glues, and rubber. Breathing in toluene in even small quantities can cause tiredness, confusion, weakness, drunken-like actions, memory loss, nausea, and loss of appetite. However once you stop breathing in toluene those symptoms tend to dissipate. It makes your nail polish stay smooth and dry faster.
  • Formaldehyde is not only toxic, but a carcinogen as well. It is found naturally in the environment as a gas made up of oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. While it is a gas at room temperature, formalin, a liquid solution of formaldehyde is used in many products such as in nail polish, tissue fixative, embalming, resins, napkin, tissues, and paper towels. It can cause cancer, damage your organs, cause immune deficiencies and headaches, aggravate asthma, irritate the nose and eyes, cause reproductive issues in women, and allergic reactions. It acts as a nail hardener and helps to prevent your nails from chipping.
  • Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)is found in plastics, skincare products and cosmetics, paints, and pesticides. It’s used as a plasticizer that makes plastics flexible. Like formaldehyde, it is also known to be a carcinogen. It can cause birth defects, damage the reproductive organs, liver, lungs, and kidneys. We can absorb phthalates through the skin. In nail polish it acts as a binder to make it longer lasting.*

Here is a list of some nontoxic nail polishes:



Honeybee Gardens

Piggy Paint

Karma Organic (I like their nail polish remover as well, see my review in beauty products of the month)



Scotch Naturals



*While the according to this article by the American Chemistry Council, Phthalates are safe for nail and skin care, I will leave up to you to decide if you wish to use Phthalates in your nail and skincare products.



  1. AnnaBella says:

    Nice Information, thanks for sharing. Hope we will read many other good things from you in future also.


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