Vegan Nail Polish – Why?


Dear Foot Blogger Chick,
I was reading the other day about vegan nail polish.  What does that mean and why should I use it?
Inquisitive mind
Dear Inquisitive,
What a timely question!  I was just reading about this topic.  As with many other day to day items that we don’t think that much about, nail polish is something we should pay more attention to the ingredient list.   Putting nail polish on your fingernails or toe nails puts the product in an area where it can be immediately absorbed into your blood stream.
One of the biggest concerns in nail polish is what is referred to as the “toxic trio” The toxic trio is dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde.   These three ingredients were frequently found in all nail polish but in recent years have been mostly phased out.  They can still be found now despite the indications that they can be harmful.  The concern is that the products can harm the person wearing the polish but also harm the employees in the nail salons.
Dibutyl phthalate is used to increase the lasting power of nail polish.  Tests have connected the use of it can lead to cancer in lab rats and is suspected of causing developmental and fertility problems in women.
Toluene is used to have the nail polish stay blended so that you don’t need to mix it as often.  It is also used in gasoline and household paints.  Research shows that it can affect the central nervous system and cause headaches, fatigue and dizziness.
Formaldehyde has many uses such as embalming and as an ingredient in adhesives.  Yes, it is used as a hardening agent in nail polish.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has even upgraded the status of formaldehyde from “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” to “it is known to be a human carcinogen.”
In a test conducted by Pollution Prevention Branch of the Department of Toxic Substances Control for the California Environmental Protection Agency, it was found that labels can be misleading.  It seems that some companies that label their product to be free of the big three offenders actually will have two of the offending ingredients.  The Agency found that none of the 25 polishes tested were found to have any detectable formaldehyde.  Also, interestingly enough, of the thirteen products that did not say that they were free of the “toxic trio” five of them did not have any of the toxins.   For full results please see the article on Web M.D., Is your Nail Polish Toxic?
So does it make the polish vegan if these three toxic ingredients are not present?  No, there are some other ingredients that affect whether or not the polish is vegan.  As with other vegan products, the term refers to a product that is free of animal derivatives, by-products or animal testing.
It seems that the days of testing products on animals are no longer prevalent in this country. What is still being done in some products is using animal products.  It seems (get ready this is kind of gross) that the shimmer that you find in some polishes is due to crushed beetle wings or fish scales.  (I warned you)  Products using these animal parts instead of something like aluminum power or mica would not be vegan.
So, what is the take away from this?  First off, you want to check the label or web site for your nail polish to see that it is free of the “toxic trio” and animal byproducts.  You need to be careful about what products you are putting so close that they can be absorbed into your blood stream.
The medi spa at Evanston Podiatric Surgeons uses only polishes from SpaRitual.  SpaRitual is “committed to making eco-friendly products and packaging”.  Their products contain vegan ingredients from around the world.  They use natural colors and are free from synthetic dyes.  If you are going to paint your toes or fingernails, you might want to consider the type of polish that you are using and its impact on you and the person working on your feet and hands.   If you would like to try a pedicure that utilizes all natural products and will make your feet feel great, call the friendly folks at Evanston Podiatric Surgeons and book an appointment for the medi spa.  (847-475-9030)
Your pal,
Foot Blogger Chick
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to send them to or leave them in the comment section below.  I am not a doctor but I check with one before answering questions.
Trivia Question of the week –How much is the most expensive nail polish in the world?
Find the answer on our Facebook page – Evanston Podiatric Surgeons – on Friday, February 8th.  While you’re there, please take a moment to “like” us.
Follow us on twitter – @EvPodiatric and the answer will be tweeted on Friday morning as well.
The very nice doctors at Evanston Podiatric Surgeons have opened a new location!  They are very excited to have an office on the “Magnificent Mile” in Chicago.  So, if live or work downtown, help is even closer!  Stop in and say “Hello and Congrats”.  They would love to meet you.  They are really that friendly!
Mag Mile Foot and Ankle Institute
333 N. Michigan Avenue Suite 1825
Chicago, IL   60601

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