Nail Polish – Is it Worth the Health Risk?


While people tend to be influenced by various colors, nail polish is one of the most popular ways of expressing the characteristics and mood of the user. Nail polish is a type of lacquer, which can be applied to the fingernails or toenails in order to decorate and protect the nail plates. The history of nail polish first starts in China in 3000 BC and has currently developed into a branch in the fashion sector with numerous professionals in the area. However, one essential aspect to consider regarding nail polish and the culture of nail art is the risk that they have to the human health.

It has been a controversial issue about whether or not the nail polish has a negative impact on the human body and how severe it is. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a number of chemicals included in nail polish are a small portion meaning that the risk of the product is very slim. On the other hand, Dr. Thu Quach, from Stanford University and the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, insist that the exposure to the chemicals of nail polish can lead to issues ranging from cancer to fertility problems. The ingredients of nail polish, such as the pigments of the products, are usually chemicals, which are toxic and potentially hazardous to the human health, disrupting hormones. Researchers have found that the ‘toxic trio’ (toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate) can generate serious health impacts, affecting the central nervous system and causing reproductive harm. Furthermore, the nail technicians, who work at nail salons, spending most of their time on nail polish, are also at risk. Most of the nail salons lack the adequate ventilation, which means that the chemicals evaporated from nail products are trapped inside salons. The technicians who are mostly exposed to the chemicals breathing in harmful products could experience skin irritations, eye injuries, and allergic reactions. If more severe, these can lead to neurological symptoms, nausea, respiratory problems, cancer and impaired reproductive and development processes.

Although many people recognize the severe problems, nail polish continues to be one of the main product consumed by current consumers. Experts of the area have suggested some tips for the users on how to protect our fingertips and health while continuing the act of painting our nails. First of all, the risk increases when both the fingernails and toenails are covered with the chemical product so paint only one of the two them. Moreover, do not inhale too much of the smell because the recognizable nail polish smell can be a sign of airborne toxic chemicals. Another advice for the users is to consume the nail polish from brands considering the health risk of their products. These currently launching healthy nail polishes contain less of the harmful chemical ingredients. It is crucial for the continuous users of nail polish to be aware of the risks they may encounter and protect themselves from them.