General Health, Health and Wellness

Nail Polish Is Bad for You: Here’s Why

6 Comments 15 November 2013

NailPolish_300Yes, ladies, those fumes are toxic, so think twice before changing your polish several times a week. Plus, a warning about your polish remover from Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., authors of YOU: The Owner’s Manual for Teens: A Guide to a Healthy Body and Happy Life.

Nail polish is likely the most toxic cosmetic there is. Polish includes poisonous substances such as formaldehyde, phthalates, acetone, toluene, and benzophenones. Phthalates, solvents for colors, are toxic to the nervous system; acetone and toluene, which keep the color in liquid form, evaporate quickly and fill the air with noxious fumes, putting your respiratory system at risk. The other substance we fingered, benzophenones, may cause cancer.

If you apply polish in adequately ventilated rooms, it’s probably okay, but surely you shouldn’t be changing your polish several times a week, as some teens are known to do.

Also, don’t use nail polish remover more than twice a month. Instead touch up the polish. When you do need a remover, avoid those containing acetone, which dries nails and is seriously bad for you. We know you’ll roll your eyes, but acetone is so toxic to your eyes, nerves, and lungs that it’s a good idea to go to the Home Depot and find one of those air filters that will protect your lungs and brain if you use it. Repair splits or tears with nail glue or clear polish.

YOU: The Owner’s Manual for Teens

YOU: The Owner’s Manual for Teens

Dr. Oz


Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., is also a New York Times #1 bestselling author and Emmy-award winning host of The Dr. Oz Show. He is professor and vice chairman of surgery at New York Presbyterian-Columbia University and the director of the Heart Institute. He currently lives in Cliffside Park, New Jersey.

Your Comments

6 Comments so far

  1. Ashli says:

    This is why most polish bloggers buy polishes that are listed as “Big 3 Free.” We don’t want that crap in our bodies, and very few companies still use formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). Look for labels that list that their product is “Big 3 Free,” like OPI, China Glaze, Butter London, Revlon, and Nubar. (Some companies are still rotating out the old formulas with new ones, so be sure to check the labels.)

  2. kojala says:

    We love Zoya, too–it comes in great colors and lasts longer than regular polish in our experience.

  3. nail polish says:

    Repair splits or tears with nail glue or clear polish..great advice thanks.

  4. indigo bird says:

    Surely the toxins seep through the nail bed and into the system, no? I walk away from this article with the notion that nail polish is o.k. as long as applied in a well ventilated atmosphere. Are we better off avoiding the stuff completely?

  5. buttermilk says:

    This article was well written and informative but the picture of the beautiful nailed hands in glamorous red made me want to run and paint my nails no matter the cost! …Although thanks to the comments I will now be looking for the “Big 3 Free”.

  6. Ottie says:

    i’m sure there’s other toxic substances in the ones that even avoid the big 3

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