Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cosmetics Q&A: 3 Free Nail polishes: What to avoid and what to try

Sliding a blog post in right  before the stroke of midnight because I promised myself I would blog every day moving forward (when possible) ;)

This is a topic I've wanted to blog about for some time because I think it's a really important one. When we were kids (if you were a child of the 80s like me), there were no warnings about the chemicals in nail polish and we picked up whatever colors sparked our fancy off of the drugstore shelves--from sapphire blue to Barbie pink, the glittery-er the better! Now I'm not discouraging drugstore nail polish. To each his/her own! I personally don't use them anymore, though I still love and wear those shades, and let me tell you why.

You've probably hard of "3 free nail polish". What are the "3" they're referring to?

There are a few major chemicals in the average nail polish you want to stay away from. Those are:

Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) - This chemical is a plasticiser that is used to keep the polish from chipping or cracking. The problem with it is that there is a growing amount of research pointing to the fact that it may cause birth defects with exposure. In laboratory tests, DBP caused damage to male reproductive organs in the animal fetuses that were exposed to it (I am so against animal testing by the way, but I did want to share this fact). Some fetuses had so much damage they were left sterile. As a result of these findings the European Union and Canada have already banned the use of DBP in nail polish.

Formaldehyde - This is a seriously debated topic. Many sites claim that formaldehyde is present in nail polish while others say it's present in nail hardener only. Then there are many sites that claim formaldehyde isn't in nail polishes now nor has it ever been. Ooooh goodness. Well either way, steer clear of it! I looked at a few ingredient labels on major non-natural nail polish companies online and couldn't find formaldehyde listed outright on any of them. I don't want to speculate so all I can say is, keep your eyes peeled.

Toluene - This is a solvent that makes the nail polish easier to spread onto your nail. Toluene is aromatic and can give you a headache, but that's not why you should watch out for it. It is believed to possibly cause cancer and reproductive issues over a long period of time and in high dosages. While most people aren't dousing themselves in Toluene, I can't help but wonder if it's worth avoiding chemicals in general like this simply because I don't see risking it when there are more natural alternatives.

So now that we've discussed "the big 3" as they're referred to, what nail polish companies are safe to purchase from?

There are many companies you can choose from, but the ones that have caught my attention the most are:
butter LONDON 3Free polishes
Piggy Paint
PeaceKeeper Causemetics

I have used PeaceKeeper, Piggy Paint, Zoya, and butter LONDON. My favorites are butter LONDON and Zoya out of the four, followed closely by the others. In my opinion, butter LONDON and Zoya's nail polishes perform the most like "traditional" nail polishes. I love the colors, they goes on perfectly, and they lasts! However, I can't help but love PeaceKeeper as well because they are an amazing company dedicated to women's health and human rights issues. They actually donate all of the money they bring in after taxes to these causes!

When it comes to Zoya, they definitely have the most extensive color list I've seen of all these companies. They are also reasonably priced and available at several nearby store locations.

Do you guys have a favorite "3 free" nail polish? Share!


  1. I've used No Miss nailpolish for years. It's great there's so many big 3 free brands now, but it was the only one I could find at first (this was maybe 10 years ago) and I've just stuck with it ever since. They last pretty well on your nails and also have plenty of color choices that are free of FD&C dies, which is something I look for :)

  2. That's great! I'm definitely a dye-free fan,too. They're hard to find!

  3. I have no complaints with Zoya. I managed to get about a week's wear out of a mani. I have 11 of their polishes. They seem to be self-leveling and the dry time is about average. They are popping up in more Ultas for $7, while they retail for $8 on their website. They have really nice duochromes.

    OPI is also self-proclaimed 3-free, however formaldehyde resin was found in one of their latest polishes, Skulls and Glossbones.

    A drugstore brand, Sinful Colors, is also 3 free. I haven't tried them yet. I'm still doing my research on which drugstore brands are 3 free.

  4. Interesting! Do you have a link to the report on the OPI polish with formaldehyde resin? There's such a huge controversy over formaldehyde in nail polish!

    I've never seen Sinful Colors! If you try it out let us know what you think ;)


Please make sure all comments are appropriate and void of self-promotion such as links, blog URLs, etc. Thanks for chatting!