Can Nail Polish Damage Nails?
Nail polish CAN damage nails.
Long-term exposure to nail polish can ultimately damage nails causing them to peel and become brittle. Adversely using the vitamin biotin in conjunction with clear nail polish that contains protein can help to strengthen nails. ["Nail abnormalities" National Library of Medicine]
Ingredients in Nail Polish
Not all nail polishes contain the same ingredients, but most contain a range of the same basic ingredients some of which are considered toxic.
Toluene is a common ingredient in nail polish and though toxic if ingested or inhaled has been deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration for its use as a solvent in nail cosmetics. ["Nail Care Products." U S Food and Drug Administration]
Toxicity: Inhalation of high-concentrations of toluene can cause dizziness, loss of coordination, and stupor. Concentration over 10,000 ppm can cause death. Ingesting toluene can cause nausea, vomiting and burning of the throat. ["Toluene Toxicity: Clinical Evaluation"Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry]
Formaldehyde is sometimes added to nail polish as a hardener. The health risks of formaldehyde are highly publicized, but the FDA does not discourage its use in nail products. Citing a CIR Expert Panel report that cosmetics containing more than .2% formaldehyde may not be safe, the FDA argues that though nail products use amounts in excess of .2%, this standard is for cosmetic products that are applied to the skin. ["Nail Care Products." U S Food and Drug Administration]
Toxicity: Formaldehyde is a probable human carcinogen. Inhalation can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and upper respiratory tract. Ingestion can cause corrosive internal injury and even death. ["Formaldehyde." Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry]
Don't Believe the Label
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control tested the ingredients of nail polishes commonly found in salons to verify if the manufacturer's claims to be free of unsafe chemicals were true. What they discovered was that despite the label claims, the opposite was often true.
Of the 25 polishes tested many of them to contain toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), referred to by the agency as ‘the toxic trio', even though many of them claimed to be free of the toxic substances. ["Safer Nail Products." Department of Toxic Substances Control]