Jacava London (£15.50) are a quintessentially British brand that produce nail varnishes that are formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, paraben, camphor, phthalate, xylene, ethyl tosylamide and lead free. They're the only brand in the UK that can claim they're 'nine free', as well as being vegan friendly. In addition, Organic Pharmacy have their own range of Organic Glam (£11.50) polishes that offer a long-lasting, chip-resistant and safe formula that's free from toxins including camphor, phthalates, toluene and formaldehyde. Eliminating toluene, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and DBP from its polishes, Zoya (£11.00) are probably one of the most well known 'organic' nail brands with a contiual up-to-shade shade offering, while Little Odine (£8.40) have revolutionised the way we think about nail colour. Composed of natural resin, organic colourants and water, they've sourced the best minerals from around the world to provide a pure organic colour, a smooth texture, hydrating formula and a peel-off result (reducing the need for chemically-saturated nail varnish remover - something that can also be absorbed into our bloodstream.)
With more and more of these brands popping up, and more and more of these 'normalised' chemical ingredients being banished, why should we be so worried about a little bit of nail polish? It's easy to assume that applying chemicals to your nails is far less to be concerned about than applying chemicals to your face, but our hands are the part of our body that comes into contact with almost every other part of us. We itch our eyes, pick our noses, scratch our bums, bite our nails, lick our fingers... All of these things easily transfer chemicals around our bodies and can cause irritation. One of the most common causes of irritation around the eyes (and of conditions such as conjunctivitis,) is nail polish; but it's the one cause that people don't seem to be able to identify when they come across a problem. Similarly, with pregnant women refusing to east cheese and seafood, it seems crazy that they'd happily apply their favourite polish and nibble their nails without a second thought. There's no right or wrong answer; it's all about personal choice - but it's also about understanding what those choices are.
Formaldehyde is linked to asthma, neurotoxicity and developmental toxicity, while formaldehyde resin is known to cause contact dermatitis. From inhalation toluene can cause drowsiness, headaches and dizziness, while in high doses and exposure it can impair memory, vision and hearing. Parabens can cause skin sensitization and contact allergies. Xylene and lead can cause skin, eye, nose and throat irritation, as well as potentially memory problems, gastro-intestinal discomfort, kidney, blood, central nervous system and liver effects. Camphor is swiftly absorbed into the skin, crosses the placenta and has been implicated in feotal and neonatal death, while foetal exposure to chemicals such as phthalates in the womb have been linked to fertility problems, child deformities and cancer. Although a slick of your favourite polish every now and again isn't going to kill you, it is worth understanding the potential impact these commonly used ingredients can have on your well-being - and the well-being of your children (pre-birth or otherwise.)
Although I've never been particularly fussed about organic food, natural beauty or leading a hippy lifestyle, as I get older and enter a new phase of my life I am becoming more and more aware of all the chemicals I'm applying to my skin. If I can avoid overloading my body with more chemicals than is absolutely necessary, why wouldn't I make that choice? There's no way I'm going to be chucking in the Rimmel nail polish any time soon, but it does make me think twice about the nail polish I apply before setting off to spend the day with my best friends and their babies. I know that (hopefully) in the future when I'm growing my own little human, I'll be opting for a safer alternative just as I'll be passing on that large glass of rose. What's great about these brands is that they offer a huge spectrum of shades, a great colour result, an easy-to-apply formula and the knowledge that there's simply nothing nasty on your nails. I'm not one for compromise and the brands now available ensure you can get the result that you need, without loading up on chemicals that could impact you in more ways than one.
How do you feel about natural, organic and 'free from' nail polish? Is it something you're concerned about, or are you willing to stick to your usual brand and ignore the hype? I'd love to know your thoughts...