For most of my adult life, the only things that mattered to me when choosing a nail polish were a) that the color is nice, and b) that it won’t chip. I’m easy to please. However, after recently chatting with hormone expert and nutritionist Alisa Vitti about the crazy way chemicals in polishes impact your hormones, I’ve found myself steering away from my usual brands and have even vowed to avoid my salon.
Here’s why: Common chemicals in nail polish can disrupt the way your endocrine system works and potentially impact your fertility and exacerbate symptoms of PMS. Specifically, it’s these names you need to watch out for: toluene, formaldehyde, DBP, resin, and camphor. “Some of the chemicals will be absorbed, as nail is living tissue. DBP, for example, is a phthalate-classified endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen in the body and is known to decrease fertility,” Vitti said, adding that toluene (also found in some polish removers) is a neurotoxin that’s actually banned in Europe. Then there’s formaldehyde, which has been linked with cancer, fertility issues, and increased rates of miscarriage.
It’s not just your DIY manicures causing you harm either: “It’s also being in the salon that is the issue as well,” Vitti said, warning that most use polishes laden with nasty chemicals. “Also, don’t do shellac or gels or tip application, as the chemicals used by those processes are extremely toxic.”
It’s all really spooky stuff, but this information doesn’t mean you necessarily have to commit to a life free from manicures and nail art—just choose products labeled as five- or nine-free that won’t use dangerous toxins, and choose salons that exclusively carry these safer products and removers. Up above you’ll find a roundup of some of my favorites.