The triple-toxin danger in your perfectly polished nails

Ladies, the next time you think about pampering yourself with a manicure, you may want to skip the part where they polish your nails.

Three of the chemicals known to be most toxic to humans are in that cherry red polish (all of the colors, actually!), and make no mistake, they’re getting into your body.

Your skin is your largest organ, and it absorbs just about anything it comes into contact with. And don’t think that because your fingernails are hard, that they’re resistant to chemicals and won’t absorb them into your system.

The cuticle bed surrounding your nails is as soft as the rest of your skin. And, the solvents in nail polish are designed to make your nails more absorbent. That’s what helps polish stay on longer, preserving that manicure.

But is it worth it? Not when you realize nail polish is full of toxic chemicals. One is a chemical that’s also found in paints and pesticides and is a known carcinogen.

Another is linked to diabetes and thyroid disruption, while still another is a chemical found in flame retardants that was shown to cause skeletal malformations in rats that were exposed to it.

After you’ve read my report, you might find the buffed natural look more appealing…

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3 dangerous chemicals in nail polish

Just a whiff of your favorite nail polish should tell you that it’s filled with chemicals, and none of them good for you. Here are the three of the most dangerous toxins you’re exposing yourself to when you paint your nails.

Formaldehyde. The EPA has classified formaldehyde as a “probable human carcinogen. Based on lab and human studies, the National Cancer Institute says that formaldehyde may cause leukemia in humans, particularly acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow.

When mice were exposed to formaldehyde daily for one week, they started to exhibit Alzheimer’s like symptoms.

Toluene. Toluene is one of the most widely abused inhaled drugs. It is found in glue and paint. Toluene intoxication can cause rhabdomyolysis. In this condition, muscle fibers are destroyed and their waste products enter the bloodstream, where the kidneys cannot eliminate them fast enough. Kidney disease or kidney failure can follow.

Obviously, you’re not going to sit around inhaling nail polish. But habitual use, especially in enclosed spaces, can be hazardous. And, if you’re someone who works in a salon and works with nail polish daily, you’re in danger.

Triphenyl phosphate (TPHP). This chemical is added to nail polish to make it stick to your nails better.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports several studies in which TPHP was shown to trigger obesity in a particularly insidious way: it diverts undifferentiated cells away from becoming bone cells, and toward becoming fat cells.

A Duke University study looked at whether women who used polish containing TPHP were absorbing it through their nails, or just through the air they breathe.

Two groups of women received manicures. One had polish applied directly to their fingernails, while the other wore gloves and had polish applied to fake nails.

When comparing previously submitted urine samples, they found that the women who had polish applied to fake nails had little or no change in levels of DPHP (the metabolized version of TPHP).

Women who had polish applied to their nails showed sharp increases in levels of DPHP.

About ten to 14 hours after getting their nails painted, they had DPHP levels that were on average seven times higher than they were before the experiment.

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Helps Your Body Maintain Optimum Immune Balance!


Watch out for toxins in other cosmetics, too

Nail polish isn’t the only cosmetic product that contains dangerous ingredients. Manufacturers don’t always tell the truth about what’s in their products, and the law does next to nothing to protect us.

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was passed way back in 1938, long before many of today’s dangerous chemicals were a problem.

The law addresses the mislabeling of cosmetic products, but in no way addresses their safety.

As Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group comments, “It’s hard to think of a category that is less regulated – even pesticides have more.”

Two places you can go to see if the product you’re using has any dangerous chemicals in it are the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Base and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which keeps an extensive database of research and information on specific chemicals in self-care products and their effects.

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  1. Yes, Chemicals In Nail Polish Can Leach Into Your Body — HuffPost
  2. Triphenyl phosphate, found in ‘eco-friendly’ nail polish, spurs worries — Chicago Tribune
  3. Formaldehyde — American Cancer Society
  4. Acute toluene intoxication–clinical presentation, management and prognosis: a prospective observational study — BMC Emergency Medicine
  5. TPHP: a new endocrine disruptor — Environmental Working Group
Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.