Nail polishes keep ourselves looking groomed and feeling pretty, but they don’t exactly have the best rap, mainly due to the harmful chemicals contained in most mass market-produced products. It may seem like a small price to pay to look and feel more confident, but here’s why it should be a cause for concern:

Though nail polish is applied over the nails externally, these toxic ingredients can, in fact, leach into the body. One of the chemicals in question is triphenyl phosphate or TPP, which is responsible for making nail polish adhere better onto the nails.

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With this in light, an increasing number of brands have been innovating nail lacquers that are labelled 3-Free, 5-Free and 7-Free, meaning they have been formulated with less nasties that can be damaging to your health. Here, we break down the most common of these chemicals.

1. Toluene – This colourless liquid can be found in paint, varnishes, glues and adhesives. It can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, aside from promoting sleeping difficulties and anxiety.

2. Dibutyl phthalate – DBP blends the dyes in the polish, however it disrupts regular hormone functions. Extended exposure to this chemical may also affect fertility and cause defects in unborn foetuses.

3. Formaldehyde or formaldehyde resin – This preservative which is most commonly used as a disinfectant has been suggested to boast carcinogenic properties and has been linked to reproductive problems.

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4. Camphor – Used to prolong the formula of the polish while it isn’t being used, this ingredient causes irritability, flushed skin and disorientation. It can also act as poison when used in large doses.

5. Triphenyl phosphate – Also known as TPP, this chemical disturbs the hormone receptors and may alter the balance in sex hormones. It has also been linked to the damage of liver cells.

You are in charge of your own wellbeing, and now that you know, it’s easier than ever to make conscious choices to guard yourself from unnecessary risks.

[Source 1, 2, 3]