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When it comes to toxic-free nail polish, we've found that there's much confusion created by the ambiguous terminology used in marketing (no surprise), making it difficult to know what products to trust. So, here's an attempt to make sense of it all.

Polishes today are generally much cleaner than they used to be, having an exceptionally bad reputation for being the most chemical-filled and toxic products on the beauty market. When it comes to recognizing the good ones, 3-free is a common term used to describe a formula made without the three most toxic ingredients traditionally used in nail polish – phthalates (such as DBP), toluene and formaldehyde – and we’d say this is an absolute minimum requirement for a modern lacquer. Even better are 5-free polishes that, except for the already mentioned ingredients, also exclude formaldehyde resin and camphor.

From there on it gets a bit trickier, as different brands use the free term differently. Some even list excluded toxic ingredients that wouldn’t normally be used in nail polish just to “sound better”, making everything even more confusing. And while a formula with natural ingredients might be preferred, natural doesn’t guarantee that it’s made without toxins… For products marked as 6-free or even up to 10-free, what they’re probably referring to are things like xylene, triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), parabens, fragrances, and animal ingredients.

As for removers, quite a bit has changed there too. With new innovations made with 100% natural, plant-based ingredients (usually containing softening and moisturising oils too), you don’t have to be or breath anywhere near Acetone ever again, which is not only toxic but incredibly drying to the skin and nail. The only trick you need to learn for using the new formulas is to press the remover over each nail for about 5 seconds to dissolve the color before wiping it away. Easy peasy.

While knowing all this, we still feel a bit like rookies in the world of toxic-free nail polish. So for now, we’ll continue to shop at multi-brand stores we trust, like Content Beauty, Reve En Vert, Naturligt Snygg and Goop. Check them out for more great nail care and polishes (which of course come in lots and lots of other colors than the neutrals we’ve selected below!). 

Shop the Nail Essentials

1. Nail Polish (G10), 10-free, Côte x Goop. 2. Natural Stone for Nails, artisan made in Spain, Pallarés Solsona/Kindred Black. 3. Nail Polish Cleansing Water a la Rose, Kure Bazaar/Naturligt Snygg.

4. Superbase, 10-free, Kure Bazaar/Content Beauty. 5. Nail + Cuticle Oil, French Girl/Goop. 6. Fulton, 8-free, Tenoverten.

7.  Nail Color Set 1, 7-free, Miranda Bennett. 8. Myrrah Nail and Cuticle Oil, Maria Åkerberg/Skin City. 9. Better Than Gel Top Coat, Aila/Reve En Vert.

3-in-1 Nail Color Remover and Cuticle Treatment, Aila Cosmetics/Reve En Vert. 11. Nail Polish ‘Cappuccino’, 10-free, Kure Bazaar. 12. Crystal Nail File, Aeos/Content Beauty.


Also read: Opt for a Toxic-Free Summer Manicure With Nail Polish from Kure Bazaar

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