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Nail Polish Fumes: How Dangerous Are They?

Posted on January 14, 2014
by Wendy Stackhouse

nail polish

A colleague of ours was recently interviewed about beauty do’s and don’ts for job interviews, mostly about manicures–it was in a nail magazine, after all. But it made me think about another facet of the manicure debate–health.

As important as it is to be well-groomed, specially for job interviews, how dangerous is it to get your nails done frequently? For that information, we went to a recent article in the New York Times:

“[T]hree compounds — often referred to as “the toxic trio” — [were found] in leading nail polish brands. The trio consisted of a known carcinogen, formaldehyde, used as a hardening agent, and two materials linked to developmental defects: toluene, to evenly suspend color, and the plasticizer dibutyl phthalate, or DBP, to add flexibility and sheen.”

According to studies, occasional manicures do not pose any significant risk. The risk is higher however, for those who work in nail salons and are exposed to these chemicals multiple hours per day, and children. Some companies have removed these compounds from their formulas, but some have only removed them from the ingredients list. You can check on safe brands HERE.

I’ll be getting my nails done for interviews, but I’m glad I waited to let my daughter wear “real” nail polish until she was old enough not to chew on her fingers. I’m also glad she doesn’t ask to get her nails done too often!

Remember, if you can smell it, it is putting a chemical into your environment, whether it’s something pretty like air freshener, something fun like “new car smell” or something you know for a fact has toxins in it, like nail polish. Limiting your exposure to inhaled chemicals is always a good idea!

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