What you should know about nail polish

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Even though many states have lifted the stay at home mandate, getting an appointment with your local nail technician is the same as finding Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. Regardless if you depend on a nail technician or if you are a DIY kind of person, its safe to assume your nail polish is packed with chemicals. Fortunately, modern nail polishes have phased out the harsh chemicals of its car paint predecessor, but still, contain chemicals that may not be good for your health. So before indulging in a mani-pedi, it’s important to consider chemicals used in nail polish as well as the way it’s regulated.

Whether you are going to a salon or you have your at-home salon, nail polish is regulated by the FDA. The FDA, however, breaks up-regulating nail polish into two different categories based on the intended use of the polish. If the nail polish is focused on treating things such as nail fungus, the FDA regulates that polish as a drug. However, if your polish is intended to give you a sparkling manicure, it would be regulated as a cosmetic. Under The Federal Food and Cosmetic Act, nail polishes are generally regulated as a cosmetic.

Current US laws require nail polishes sold to consumers to be safe when used following the directions on the label. However, many nail products contain potentially harmful additive ingredients but are allowed on the market because they are safe when used as directed. Some of these additive ingredients include Formaldehyde, Toluene, and Dibutyl phthalate (DBT) just to name a few. These ingredients are known to be human carcinogenic.

As of right now, there aren’t any FDA regulations on “toxic” or “non-toxic” in cosmetic labeling. Under current laws, cosmetic products and ingredients, including nail products do not need FDA approval before they go on the market, except for color additives. It is the sole responsibility of the nail polish companies to provide accurate ingredient lists and decide whether their nail polishes are safe for consumers.

Although nail polishes do not require FDA approval before hitting the market, the FDA does require nail polish companies to properly label their polishes for retail purposes. Proper labeling includes an ingredient list, with the ingredients in descending order based on predominance. Yet there’s a loophole for labeling. The FDA does not require an ingredient declaration if the polish is used in a salon or as a sample.

Many nail companies have started to label their nail-polishes as “non-toxic”. It’s important to note that these nail polishes aren’t chemical-free. Major companies such as OPI, Salley Hanson, and Revlon have phased out many “toxic” ingredients but still contain chemicals that aren’t the best for your health.  Although the FDA doesn’t regulate the “non-toxic” claims, they urge that nail polish companies register their establishments and file Cosmetic Product Ingredient Statements through their Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program, but the program and participation are voluntary, not mandatory.

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