12 Best Non-Toxic Nail Polishes for 2021
These non-toxic nail polishes look good and are good for you.
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Why you really should use non-toxic nail polish
Everyone loves a good DIY manicure, but perhaps we should be focusing less on how to make nail polish last longer and more on how to make it less harmful to our health. In 2015, a widely quoted study co-authored by researchers at Duke University and the Environmental Working Group reported evidence of a common nail polish chemical called triphenyl phosphate (TPHP). The chemical, a known endocrine disruptor that may interfere with hormone function, was found in the bodies of every single woman who painted her nails for the study. Other toxins in nail polish have been linked to additional health issues. That’s where non-toxic nail polish comes in.
You’ve probably read about 3-free, 5-free, 7-free, 9-free, 10-free products (among others). There’s a reason those numbers appear on labels. “Non-toxic nail polish generally means that the formulation does not contain these three ingredients: toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or formaldehyde. This is also listed as ‘3 Free’ on the packaging,” said Dasha Minina, founder of Maxus Nails, which sells vegan polishes that are free of 10 chemicals (aka 10 free). The higher the number, the more toxic chemicals the polish excludes.
The good news is that in the past few years, more nail polish companies have committed to creating less-toxic products, so it’s easier to find the best nail polish and best gel nail polish without compromising your health. (Just be sure you know how to remove gel nail polish without harming your nails.) Read on for some of our favorite non-toxic nail polishes. When you’re done, don’t miss
Maxus Nails Base Coat
Best non-toxic base coat
If you have brittle or weak nails or just want a little extra TLC, try a strengthening base coat. We love the way this cruelty-free vegan nail polish preps nails for a full manicure. Knowing this is free from 11 toxic chemicals will help you feel good about slicking it over your nails. For even more pampering, rub on this Amazon-favorite cuticle oil.
Karma Organic Nail Polish in Francis
Neon nail polish is so on-trend, and this pop of orange adds excitement. We love the fact that this is 100 percent organic and safe for people with allergies—even the kiddos. Not ready to go full orange? Use this as an accent color when creating nail art designs. Another great reason to use non-toxic nail polish: It’s easier to remove even bright colors and is less likely to irritate your skin. According to Harvard Medical School, non-toxic nail polish cuts down on the number of chemicals that can cause contact dermatitis (a red, itchy rash), making it a potentially better option for people with sensitive skin.
Sundays Nail Polish in No. 11
Best long-lasting non-toxic nail polish
As summer segues into fall, paint your nails in a fresh watermelon shade that bridges the seasonal gap. This 10-free formula is safe for pregnant women, which is important because, as Minina says, “these ingredients have been linked to allergies and developmental/reproductive toxicity.” We’re a little obsessed with the bottle design and the pure color of the actual polish. It’s pretty enough to paint on your toes too. DIY pedicure here we come!
Olive & June Nail Polish in GH
Best non-toxic salon-quality polish
If you hate the way light colors can go on chalky, you’re going to love the opaque coverage of this 7-free, baby-pink shade. It’s a similarly delicate shade as Queen Elizabeth’s favorite nail polish. The brand also has a whole bunch of nail tools (though we had bad luck with the nail stickers in the past), so you can have an entire nail salon experience from the comfort of your home.
Pacifica Plant Magic Polish in Golden Hour
This blushing shade is a versatile pick that you can dress up or tone down depending on your mood. It’s vegan, 100 percent cruelty-free, and free of 16 toxins. The extra-wide brush makes polishing your nails easier. Pacifica is a well-established brand in the clean beauty world, which matters. As a study in Environmental Science & Technology explains, phrases like 3-free and 16-free on nail polish labels vary by brand and aren’t validated by a third party. You’re taking the company at its word, so make sure you trust it. Finish off your home manicure with a moisturizing cuticle oil.
Ella+Mila Nail Polish in Honeymoon Bliss
Best quick-drying non-toxic nail polish
While this is the perfect shade to take you from wedding reception to honeymoon relaxation, we love it paired with a cozy cashmere sweater as we head into fall. Or pick a shade from the brand’s Mommy and Me line, which pairs a larger bottle with a smaller one. All are PETA certified and 17-free. The speedy drying time is an added perk. By the way, here’s what your favorite nail color reveals about your personality.
Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Nail Polish in Lady Is a Tramp
Best cruelty-free non-toxic nail polish
Deborah Lippmann’s Gel Lab Pro nail polish is the healthier alternative to gel polish, free of 10 toxic ingredients. The formula is packed with ingredients aimed at improving nail quality, including evening primrose, keratin, biotin, green tea extract, rice protein, and bamboo. (Not sure if your nails are damaged or pointing to more serious issues? Find out what your nail color stays about your health.) Best of all, you don’t need a heat lamp or curing treatment. We appreciate how committed the company is to its cruelty-free policy. It does not sell its polish to outlets or stores that require animal testing by law.
Habit Cosmetics Nail Polish in 18 Soft Focus
Best nail strengthener
The bottle of Habit non-toxic nail polish is so gorgeous you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for cool home decor. This woman-owned company, which launched in 2013, focuses on sustainable packaging. It’s PETA certified, free of nine toxic chemicals, and contains myrrh extract, which improves nail strength. Good news for anyone who buys from only vegan makeup brands: Habit’s polishes are free of animal ingredients.
Zoya Nail Polish in Brooklyn
Best color selection
Sometimes you want just the slightest bit of shimmer, and this pale gold is the perfect autumn shade. Or go full-on fall with Autumn, a bold, shimmery rust. Zoya has long been known as a brand dedicated to finding healthy, natural solutions and formulas for all of its products. With hundreds of vegan-friendly, 10-free options, Zoya nail polish definitely has the best variety of on-trend colors. Want a more polished look? Add this $8 nail product for a salon-level manicure.
JINsoon Nail Polish in Plunge
Best versatile non-toxic nail polish
Founded by well-loved professional manicurist Jin Soon Choi, this 10-free polish mimics the look of salon nails and has impressive staying power. The brand’s neutral shades are great for the office, and the dark navy Plunge—a perfect fall nail color—transitions well from workday to night. When it’s time to kick back and enjoy yourself, go with Daisy; its multicolored confetti makes it the best nail polish when an event calls for fun.
Dr.’s Remedy Total Two-In-One Enriched Nail Polish
Best for damaged nails
This organic polish—it can be used as either a base or top coat—works to strengthen damaged nails. Need more reasons to love this brand? The 10-free nail polishes are cruelty-free, vegan friendly, and made with ingredients aimed at helping nails grow faster and healthier, including biotin, tea tree oil, garlic bulb extract, lavender wheat protein, and vitamins. Wear it over your favorite colored polish to protect against UV rays.
KBShimmer Shade Shifter Multichrome Nail Polish
If you hopped on the chrome nails trend train and never got off, this is the polish for you. The multichrome 3-free formula looks different depending on the light you’re in or your movement. At $13, it’s a much more affordable version of designer chrome formulations. Wondering if all of the ingredients in this polish are safe?
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