Guide to non-toxic manicures

Conventional nail polish can be one of the most toxic beauty products around, as many contain a host of harmful chemicals. Nail polish removers are equally problematic and the fumes are especially harmful. As a combination of both, conventional nail salons are incredibly toxic.

Luckily there now are some non-toxic alternatives! Here is a guide to a non-toxic manicure from choosing toxin-Free Nail Polish Brands and nail polish removers to finding eco-friendly nail salons in New York.

Toxin-Free Nail Polish Brands

493915179Most of those cute little colorful bottles are filled up with A LOT of chemicals. In mainstream nail polishes there are three chemicals that are particularly dangerous. The first is Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) which is an ingredient often used in plastics to make them more flexible. The Second chemical is Formaldehyde which according to the National Cancer Institute is a possible carcinogen, meaning it could cause cancer. The third chemical is Toluene which is a highly hazardous chemical found in petroleum that could also be toxic with prolonged exposure.

These harsh chemicals are not only bad for the environment, but also bad for you, as they cause nails to become brittle and have harsh fumes.

However some brands have dedicated themselves to more natural nail care and are toxin-free. They have numbered labels e.g. 3-free, 7-free or 10-free. These are actually an indicator as to how many chemicals have been removed from the nail polish formulation:

  • “3-free” means that they don’t use the three chemicals mentioned above: dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or formaldehyde.
  • “5-free” means that they don’t contain those three ingredients, and in addition don’t contain Formaldehyde Resin or Camphor.
  • “7-Free”means that they also remove the ingredients Ethyl Tosylamide and Andxylene.
  • “10-Free” are rare to find but also remove any parabens, fragrances and animal ingredients.

See below a non-exhaustive list of brands classified by their description:

The “3-free”

Good news, a lot of consumer-available nail polishes are now at least three-free!

Have a look at: OPI; Sally Hansen; Scotch Naturals; Acquarella and Honeybee Gardens collections.

The “5-free”

Coming in on five-free are brands like: Priti; Tenoverten; Zoya

The “7-free”

Have a look at the following brands if you are looking for 7-free nail polishes: Butter London; LVX; Deborah Lippmann.

The “10-free”

10-free nail polishes are harder to find. Trust fund beauty has us covered until more brands follow its example!

236c472If you’ve been using conventional nail polish, I’d suggest stopping right away but please also dispose of conventional nail polish carefully. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) classifies nail polish as household hazardous waste and requests that it is disposed of in a proper hazardous waste disposal site. You can use this directory to find a hazardous waste disposal site near you.

Natural nail polish removers

As a result of the increasing demand for more healthy, natural nail alternatives, several companies are responding with amazing products — including nail polish removers made with natural ingredients and completely void of any trace of acetone, a chemical that can wreak havoc on your nails and cuticles, leaving them dry, weak and brittle.

Here are a few options: Treat Collection ; Acquarella; Suncoat; Honeybee Gardens; Tate’s; Mineral Fusion; and Karma Naturals.

Eco-friendly nail salons

There are 6 eco-friendly nail salons in NYC where you can get a non-toxic manicure:


1- Hortus Nailworks

Lower East Side | Speedy Manicure $15 

 2- Dear Sundays

Flatiron/Midtown | Signature Treatment $25 

 3- Ph7 Nail Salon

Williamsburg, Brooklyn | Basic Manicure $18

4- Tenoverten

SoHo, TriBeCa, Midtown | Quickie Manicure $15

5- Sweet Lily Nail Spa

TriBeCa | Lavender Cream Manicure $26

 6- Sakura

Upper East Side and Lower East Side | Non-toxic Manicure $18


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