9 Apr 2009
Ask Me Beauty: Are nail polishes bad for my health?
This warning is most likely because of the ingredient Toluene (also known as methylbenzene, toluol, phenylmethane) contained in Seche Vite, which is a solvent that makes the polish easier to apply. Toluene is an aromatic hydrocarbon commonly used as an industrial solvent for the manufacturing of paints, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and rubber. Like other solvents, toluene is also used by some drug abusers as an inhalant drug for its intoxicating properties. Inhalation of toluene fumes can be intoxicating, and in larger doses nausea-inducing.
Toluene is one of the substances that some nail polish manufacturers are starting to omit from their products, also known as the "Big Three". These are three toxic chemicals that are often used in nail products, namely Dibutyl Phtalate (DBP), Formaldehyde and Toluene. It is debatable whether or not these three chemicals pose a serious risk to consumers who use nail polish on a regular basis. Some people might be more concerned about these chemical ingredients than others, especially pregnant women who may wish to take extra-ordinary precautions. Personally, I do not feel that these ingredients pose a serious risk to my own well-being, so I will continue to use them on myself. This is something everyone must decide for themselves, however, beauty products must label their products very carefully with any warning labels to prevent misuse or liability, etc. You have to consider that while these ingredients are certainly toxic in larger quantities or if inhaled purposefully, you are only exposed to a minute amount in your nail products and unlikely to be sniffing and inhaling the polish vehemently.
What I suggest is that you check out this post on ALU that explains "Big Three Free" polishes in more detail with lots of useful links, and this other page on ALU for an updated list on which companies offer Big 3 Free and other chemically reduced nail polishes. Michelle from alllacqueredup.com has obviously done a lot of research on this topic and I would only do her a disservice by trying to regurgitate the same information on my blog.
Hope that helped and happy and healthy nail lacquering!
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