A nail polish without danger to health should not contain DBP (dibutyl phthalate- the hormone-disrupter resister), toluene (the neurotoxic smoothener), formaldehyde (the carcinogenic hardener), xylene, aluminum powder and triphenyl phosphate.
The first 3 ingredients are known as ” The Big 3 “.
The most dangerous ingredients in nail polish are formaldehyde (formol, see “Dirty List” in the chapter on “ Are cosmetics toxic? ”) and toluene. Formaldehyde is cancerogenic and toluene is an irritating ingredient whose toxic fumes can damage the central nervous system and the brain. It is often the reason for which, when you develop unexplainable allergies or irritations (like the famous swollen eyelid), the dermatologist will ask you to stop using nail polish. Should he also explain you why, you’d be really lucky and keep the doctor… If you are pregnant, do not use any at all.
In California, the 16.000 manicurists who work in the 40.000 parlours suffer from several affections and diseases due to chemical exposure: chronic astma, dermatitis, breast cancers. 
Amongst the analyzed products, from the most toxic to the least dangerous: Dior (the most expensive too!), L’Oreal , Maxfactor , Manhattan , OIP , Maybelline , Bourgeois , Essie , Essence (which turned out to be the least expensive and the most resistant) and H & M .
Here are a few less toxic nail polish solutions available on our markets:
This nail polish containing water was recognized and decorated for two consecutive years by the Canadian Health Food Association Expo, winning the silver medal of the Prix d’excellence Alive in 2004 and 2005. It is on sale in the big department stores of natural products in Montreal.
My point of view: it wears off way too quickly even if one scrupulously respects the indications for its application and the choice of the colours (although very many on their site) is really restricted in the boutiques… 10 $ per bottle. The only color that lasts a little longer is the 08, pink, and the natural Dissolvent Suncoat is rather difficult to use. As far as I am concerned it doesn’t work, it is a varnish to be put on occasionally, during an event or to be used by elegant young girls, but as I already said, my opinions in this book remain very personal, explore by yourselves, what would we do without curiosity, this hope of the spirit?
They also have a special line for kids: Suncoat Girl Water-based Nail Polish .
If you want to know more about the history of the Suncoat Company but also about varnishes, visit the Website of La maison bio on http://www.lamaisonbio.com/les-vernis-a-ongles-bio-ca-existe
There also exist other water-based nail polishes which are quite well-graded on Skin Deep such as Aquarella graded 1 (which seems to hold well according to the comments of the Net surfers) and Honeybee Garden graded 2, but, to my knowledge, they are not sold in Quebec.
Mineral Fusion nail lacquer available in health food stores. “Formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate and camphor free.” Strangely, all makeup products of the same name are on Skin Deep except the nail polish. Varnish formulas are not available on the Mineral Fusion website individually, but one list for all colors. No revolution, rather disappointing, nothing “natural” in the varnish. Only merit: a decent price: $ 8
“Ethyl Acetate, Butyl Acetate, Isopropyl Alcohol, Nitrocellulose, Adipic Acid/Neopentyl Glycol/Trimellitic, Anhydride Copolymer, Trimethyl Pentanyl Diisobutyrate, Stearalkonium Hectorite, Diacetone Alcohol Styrene, Acrylates Copolymer, Silica, Citric Acid, Benzophenone‐1
Mica, Oxides, Titanium Dioxide, Bismuth Oxychloride, Aluminum Powder, D&C Red No. 7 Calcium Lake, D&C Violet No. 2, FD&C Yellow No. 5 Alluminum Lake, Ferric Ammonium Ferrocyanide”
Butter London is a nail polish that does not contain phtalates, toluene, or formaldehyde, which it may be a less toxic choice if you find it on your way (available in the Montreal area) and if you want to pay $ 20. Forty colors are displayed on Skin Deep with a score of 4, the same as many other OPI, L’Oreal, Revlon and Sally Hansen and some others have even not advisable formulas, 6 ! Nothing “natural” in this product!
Latest discovery proposed by surfers from France:
Avril-Beauté nontoxic nail polish at unbeatable prices! 2.80 Euros!
Here are some formulas analyzed:
Avril Vernis à ongles Corail N° 02
INCI: butyl-acetate 0-1, ethyl acetate 1, nitrocellulose 1, phthalic anhydride / trimellitic anhydride / glycols copolymer 0, acetyl tributyl citrate1, isopropyl alcohol 2, CI 77891 , 1-3 (titanium dioxide) stearalkonium hectorite 1, mica 2, adipic acid / fumaric acid / phthalic acid / tricyclodecane dimethanol copolymer 0, CI 12085 5, CI 19140 3, styrene / acrylates copolymer 0, citric acid 2.
Avril Vernis à ongles Rose Bollywood N° 57
BUTYL ACETATE 0-1, ETHYL ACETATE 1, NITROCELLULOSE 1, PHTHALIC ANHYDRIDE / TRIMELLITIC ANHYDRIDE / GLYCOLS COPOLYMER 0, ACETYL TRIBUTYL CITRATE 1, ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL 2, STEARALKONIUM HECTORITE 1, ADIPIC ACID / FUMARIC ACID / PHTHALIC ACID / TRICYCLODECANE DIMETHANOL COPOLYMER 0, CI 77891 1-3 (titanium dioxide), CI 15850 4, CITRIC ACID 2.
Warning: some formulas such as Vernis à ongles Parme N° 71 contain toluene!
On August , 2008, there was a broadcast on CBC News  devoted to non-toxic nail polish.
The suggestions are as follows: Suncoat, Nubar  (without Formaldehyde, toluene and phthalate, average price 7.49 $, the complete list of the ingredients is not available on their site), Zoya  ( without formaldehyde, toluene, phthalate and camphor), average price 8 $, the complete list of the ingredients is not available on their site), and Revlon .
Zoya and Nubar are not sold in Quebec to my knowledge.
“Other greener picks if you spot them in your local health store include super-slick Scotch Naturals, which is tops for trendy shade, as well as the more subdued hues of PeaceKeeper Cause-Metics Nail Paint and two-dozen colours from Honeybee Gardens Watter Colors Non-peel Off Polish . Another Water-based pick is Toronto-made Sula Paint & Peel .” recommends Adria Vasil In the ” Ecoholic Body ” 2012, page 117.
|There are 32 OPI colours listed on Skin Deep graded 3 which is not bad at all when it concerns a nail varnish and others are rated 4. The prices are affordable, the only problem, as I explain below, is to choose the right color and the right collection. A Skin Deep App might be useful when purchasing.|
The problem that you can face with OPI is as follows: dependent upon the boutique, the choices are sometimes quite restricted and the majority of the salespeople have never heard about formaldehyde (which is cancerogenic) or about toluene and will take a long look at you when you speak about it or they will ensure you that their products do not contain any (which is not true, because certain formulations can contain some, the verification in the laboratory in the Swiss report cited higher up has shown that the list of ingredients did not completely correspond with the analyses done) to sell the goods to you, or you will find certain more recent collections which are not available on Skin Deep. Compromise should not be made, for nail polish the same rule applies as for all the other products, it is necessary to check colour by colour, because the brand does not ensure us the harmlessness of all their products.
Here are some formulations which do not contain a DBP (Dibutyl Phthalate), toluene or formaldehyde : T11 – Don’t Mess with OPI, T12 – Suzi Loves Cowboys, T13 – San Tan-tonio, T14 – Austin-tatious Turquoise, T15 – It’s Totally Forth Worth It, T16 – I Vant to Be A-Lone Star, T17 – Do You Think I’m Tex-y?, T18 – Houston We Have a Purple, T19 – Too Hot Pink to Hold ’Em, T20 – Y’all Come Back ya Hear?, T21 – Big Hair…Big Nails, T22 – Guy Meets Gal-veston
Some colors OPI even have a green rating of 2.
Non toxic nail polish at the pharmacy:
There are more than twenty Revlon varnishes analyzed on Skin Deep graded 4, others are rated 5 which starts to become limited, check the numbers before buying them..
Here are some examples of Revlon varnishes graded 5: Sheer Mauve 008, Sheer Nude 060, Sheer Peach 002, Sheer Pink 006, Sheer Rose 011, Sheer Sugar 001, Strawberry Electric 190, Totally Toffee 415, Touch Of Mauve #100, Black Berry 751, Sheer Heaven 017, Sheer Buff 015, Sheer Blush 070, Sheer Blossom 007, Really Rose 110, Plummy 30%4, Plum Baby 30%6, Plum Attraction 30%2, Pink Freeze 250, Passion Punch 260, Revlon Red 680.
The others are available on Skin Deep.
Several tens of L’Oréal varnishes are also graded 4 on Skin Deep, the best way is to go to the pharmacy to see which colour is appropriate to you and then to check if it is listed on Skin Deep.
Caution ! Some nail varnishes graded 5 on Skin Deep contain Aluminum powder (neurotoxic).
|Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Color Rapid Red 09 (only this colour in this brand) is graded 3 on Skin Deep. Other colors are listed 2 but be sure to read the labels and to choose the right product because some formulas are ranked 5 and even 7.|
|Ingredients: D&C Red 6 Barium Lake (CI 15850), Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, D&C Red 7 Calcium Lake (CI 15850), Ferric Ammonium Ferrocyanide (CI 77510), Black Iron Oxide (CI 77499), D&C Red 34 Calcium Lake (CI 15880), FD&C Yellow 5 Aluminum Lake (CI 19140), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), D&C Red 6 (CI 15850), Red Iron Oxide (CI 77491), Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Ferric Ferrocyanide (CI 77510), Silver (CI 77820), Tin Oxide.|
Essie and Maybelline are also available at the pharamcies: these formulas are beginning to be less recommended, 5 and more.
One can find in Montreal (and almost everywhere in Quebec), the related varnish Couleur Caramel and products such the remover, (certified organic Cosmetique bio), the oil of care for the nails and the base and the product of drying (two in one). The nail polish comes in very small bottles which prevents us from throwing half of it away and it does not contain toluene, or formaldehyde and rosin. I tested it and it holds very well, it is a product of quality. Those who like “French manicure” will be well served!
Here’s the response of the Couleur Caramel Company about the ingredient Aluminum Power CI 77000:
“We are currently in a stage of transition because we work with two different manufacturers for our varnishes. So we have two different formulations for the moment.
For the varnish formulae which you must already have (old formula) this CI is easily identifiable; it is enough for you to simply look at the INCI lists to see whether this CI is present in the formula or not.
With regard to the new formula on the other hand (new manufacturer), only the VAO 806 and 836 contain CI 77000”.
Update: After a loudly announced marketing this varnish, the only organically certified, was withdrawn from the market… I do not know the details but it brings us to the following conclusion: ORGANICALLY CERTIFIED NAIL VARNISH DOES NOT EXIST!
|The newest product of the new formulas without the "big 3", the nail polish Kure Bazaar. I have not been able to find the ingredients on the company website, I found them on Green Republic and here is the analysis for " Hippie Chic " hoping that the INCI formula is correct. To understand the significance of colors, go to Skin Deep and other... and for more information on the safety of the ingredients, go to Skin Deep and read ingredient by ingredient (copy-paste). Remember that the composition is different for each color and the label "ecological nail polish" does not bring any protection in terms of safety. Note that in this formula there are three gray ingredients, which means that to date, no study has been made about them and that we do not know anything about their toxicity potential in the short or long term.|
|Ingredients : BUTYL ACETATE 0-1 - ETHYL ACETATE 4 - NITROCELLULOSE 1 - ISOSORBIDE DICAPRYLATE 0 - ADIPIC ACID /NEOPENTYL GLYCOL /TRIMELLITIC ANHYDRIDE COPOLYMER 0 - ALCOHOL 2 - STEARALKONIUM BENTONITE 0 - STYRENE /ACRYLATES COPOLYMER 0 - SILICA 0 - DIACETONE ALCOHOL 1 - BENZOPHENONE-1 4 - TRIMETHYLPENTANEDIYL DIBENZOATE 1 - PHOSPHORIC ACID 1 - ALUMINA 5 - CALCIUM ALUMINUM BOROSILICATE 3-4 - TIN OXIDE 2 - may contain +/-: MICA 2 - CI 77000 3 - 4 - CI 19140 2 - CI 77891 1-3 - CI 75470 1 - CI 77491 2 - CI 77492 0 - CI 77499 2 - CI 15850 0 - (CI 15850 0) - CI 77742 1 - CI 12085 2 - CI 77266 6 - CI 77510 2|
|Finally, Naturkosmetik Sante a particularly well-tolerated nail polish, without formaldehyde or formol liberator, or toluene or rosin. Dries quickly, great resistance and 24 fashionable colours. Tested and adopted! Price: 16.99 $… And here’s why organic cosmetics are not very popular in Quebec… Three times the price of a conventional nail polish! I took a colour randomly to do the analysis of the ingredients, the nr.10, Purple Metallic Sante Naturkosmetik and here are the results.|
|Ingredients: Ethyl Acetate 4 , Butyl Acetate 0 - 1 , Nitrocellulose 1 , Adipic Acid/ Neopenthyl Glycol/ Trimellitic Anhydride Copolymer 0 , Isopropyl Alcohol 4 , Tri Phenyl Phosphate 0 , Trimethyl Pentanyl Diisobutyrate 2 , N-Butyl Alcohol 3 - 5 , Stearalkonium Hectorite 1 , Styrene/ Acrylates Copolymer 2 , Ethyl Tosylamide 0 , Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate 3 - 4 , Mica 2 , Silica 0 - 2 , Tin Oxide 2 , [+/- CI 77510 2, CI 77491 2 , CI 77499 2 , CI 77891 1 - 3 , CI 77163 0 , CI 60725 4 , CI 15850 0 , CI 15880 2 , CI 19140 2 ]
Note: the nr 17 Oriental Red is unstable, after a few days it becomes a very dark brown-red.
The bases and the non-toxic « top coat »
Same problem with these two sub-products of perfect manicure. It is not because the base is without colour that it is without toxic ingredients. If one is not careful one runs the risk of using harmful and sometimes cancer-causing ingredients (base, varnish, top coat) thrice.
Non-toxic Nail Polish Removers
-acetone: lung and skin irritating ingredient
-GBL (gamma-butyrolactone); acetone‐free nail polish removers are widely used and were perceived as safe but GBL a replacement ingredient which has well‐known toxic effects is not safer, this ingredient is rapidly metabolized and has triggered comas in several children .
-triclosan: endocrine disruptor (see chapter ” Non-toxic Hand Lotions “)
|Manufactured by Sante Naturkosmetik, the BDIH certified nail remover containing essential oil is the first (which I know) that profits from a certification and which is productive. It acts a little slower than a solvent containing acetone, but it smells a lot better and does not contain harmful products.|
|Ingredients INCI: Alcohol denat* 0 , Ethyl Lactate 4 , Ricinus Communis (Castor Oil) Seed Oil 2 , Aqua (Water), Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange Oil)* 0 , Limonene 6 , Linalool 4 .* from organic cultureA ”gray zone” because one does not specify what is the source of certified organic orange oil (the skin? flowers?)|
|No miss Nail Care almost natural Polish Remover , 9.99 $, works well but you have to let the remover soak in for a few seconds before rubbing.|
|Ingredients : Fruit Acid Solvent (Methyl-Pentan-2 One, Multi-Frut Acids), Amber Acid (Derived From Plant Lichens), Deionized Water, Vitamin A, Natural Vanilla Fragrance|
|Avon NAIL EXPERTS Nail Enamel Remover Wipes (polish remover ) is rated 1 on Skin Deep . I did not try it.|
|Ingredients : Methyl Acetate, Water/Eau, Methylpropanediol, Butoxydiglycol, Tocopheryl Acetate, 2-Methyl-1,3-Propanediol, Sodium Citrate, Denatonium Benzoate.|
|Sally Hansen Manicure Clean-Up Pen Maximum Strength (polish remover), classified 3 on Skin Deep , available in pharmacies but personally I couldn’t find it…|
|Ingredients: Ethyl Lactate, Butyl Acetate, Ethyl Acetate, Amyl Acetate, Isopropyl Myristate, Tocopheryl Acetate.|
|For the treatment of the nails, Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream 10/10 grade for health on Good Guide .|
To avoid :
According to the existing products on the market right now, this page should be called Less toxic nail polish instead of Non-toxic Nail Polish…
Guide of products of hygiene, beauty and non-toxic cosmetics