9 Harmful nail ingredients that are common in nail polish!

9 Harmful nail ingredients that are common in nail polish!

Nail health is a topic that most of us nail polish consumers are not really aware of. Recently I went for a talk about nail health, and it was shocking to know how important nail health is and what chemicals contained within it can cause harm to your body. Making things worse, nails are in fact more permeable than your skin itself, therefore more chemicals are actually absorbed by your nails than your skin.

For today’s Article, I want to talk about some of the more common ingredients may be contained in some of the nail products that can potentially be harmful to your health, and I will explain to you why …

As much as this sounds like fear-mongering on my end, I think it is important for people to understand the implications and causes of such chemicals. Large corporations should not keep such information in the dark, and I think us consumers should be more empowered in our choices. Without further adieu, let’s read on!—– WARNING: VERY SCIENCY (Non Sciency explanation included)

Again… DISCLAIMER: I am not a Medical Professional! This is a compilation and summary of information from different sources! My intention is to bring people’s attention to the topic of nail health, and why you should be careful when shopping for nail products!



In a very brief introduction of this substance, it is a carcinogen, in human language, it causes cancer. Formaldehyde was declared a toxic substance by the 1999 Canadian environmental protection act, while it is restricted in usage in both the United States and Europe countries. Some nail product manufacturers use this substance to help protect cosmetic products against contamination by bacteria during storage and during continued use. It causes skin irritation, including scalp burns and hair loss if absorbed by your body. (+ o + OMG)

Non-sciencey explanation: Was meant to protect against bacteria while storing, but it can cause skin irritations, scalp burns, and hair loss if too much is absorbed into your body.





Toluene is a common solvent used in nail products. Inhalation of toluene in low to moderate levels can cause tiredness, confusion, weakness, drunken-type actions, memory loss, nausea, loss of appetite, hearing loss, and even color vision loss. These symptoms usually disappear when exposure is stopped. Inhaling high levels of toluene in a short time may cause light-headedness, nausea, or sleepiness, unconsciousness, and even death as it has a direct effect on one’s nervous system.

Studies has also shown that toluene can affect Birth rates. In a study done by the National Institute of Health Sciences Japan, it was shown that female rats were affected by repeated exposure to toluene as the amount of dead fetuses increased drastically.

Non-sciencey explanation: Common Solvent in many nail products. Inhale it too much = really really bad symptoms. (imagine glue sniffing)



DBP (Dibutyl Phthalate)


It is commonly used in nail polish to minimize chipping. However, it causes harm to human body. It is classified as an endocrine disruptor and mimics the hormone estrogen in your body. Which has been proven to impair the hormonal development of fetuses, (!!!) cause organ damage, and may even instigate early-onset menopause.

Though no human studies have been done on DBP, animal studies show similar results to human phthalate studies, including decreased fertility, hormonal disruption, bioaccumulation, and liver damage. Use of DBP in cosmetics is banned in European Union countries.

Non-sciencey explanation: Meant to minimize the chipping of Nails, basically can cause you to lose your fertility and damage your organs… yikes.





It a solvent that keeps your nail polish from getting gloppy. It can cause an allergic reaction and potentially cause cancer if constantly exposed. Its vapors can cause eye irritation, skin irritation, headache, dizziness, and nausea. Prolonged exposure can lead to liver and kidney damage, respiratory issues and even death.

Non-sciencey explanation: Used to prevent Glops within Nail polishes, but can cause irritations and organ damage in the long run.





Camphor is used as a preservative in several cosmetic and over-the-counter ointments. It is extracted from a tree of the same name (camphor laurel) and has been known to cause Seizures, Breathlessness and Death if ever ingested, inhaled or over-applying on your skin.

Non-sciencey explanation: Often used as a preservative, too much exposure would cause seizures, breathlessness and even Death.



Formalin Resin


This is a hardening agent, which helps to keep your polish dry and stay put for several days.

Unfortunately, they can also be irritating to the skin if you accidentally get your polish on the area around your nails. Resins may also cause allergies and respiratory disturbances when inhaled.

Non-sciencey explanation: Meant to keep Nail polishes dry and hard. Can cause breathlessness and cause allergic reactions.



TPHP (Triphenyl phosphate)

waist measure

TPHP is a chemical that can cause reproductivity and lipid metabolism, it can cause fertility and developmental problems and potentially cause weight gain as well. Much like DBP, it is also a endocrine disruptor, affecting hormones directly.

Application wise, TPHP in Nail lacquers would allow for them to be more flexible and durable, and also makes Nail lacquers resistant to fire.

Non-sciencey explanation: Can affect your hormones much like DBP, causing fertility and developmental problems!





A common ingredient (It is an umbrella term for a range of chemicals falling under the tag “Parabens”) in many consumer products, ranging from Hair waxes to Nail Polish.

Although Parabens have been linked to Breast Cancer due to it’s estrogen-mimicking effects, it has been shown that Paraben rarely has adverse effects to health. However, as previous studies has shown that Parabens are usually present in those that are diagnosed with Breast Cancer, we suggest “playing safe” until more research has been done.



Ethyl Tosylamide

Red Surface

This ingredient has been banned in the EU due to it’s Antibacterial properties. It also contains fractions of the harmful chemical (as stated above) Toluene.

Not much public research has been done (as we could not find much), but this chemical like others in this list has been known to cause bodily harm if overexposed.

Non-sciency explanation: Contains some level of Toluene and has Antibacterial properties, making it banned in the EU




Conclusion:  Chemical substances mentioned above can still be found quite frequently in the market for nail products. If you are concerned about your health, DO NOT use products that contain these substances!! Always look at the label and check online materials before making a purchase decision, as many manufacturers often keep a tight lid on these issues.

Again, sheepishly promoting the products in my store,  check out our collection of Gel Fusion which is free from all 9 Toxic Substances. (Click here.)

But yes, do stay safe and know what chemicals are really harmful to you, look out for them and constantly do research before buying Nail products or Cosmetics in general.


Stay safe friends,


P.s Thank God I’m still alive today.

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