Choosing the right products for your nails can be tricky and sometimes, even annoying (it’s okay to admit it!). You may be looking for a perfect shade, something that benefits your nail health or a product that isn’t filled with chemicals. But, where do you start?
Maybe you have heard of terms like “3 Free” “5 Free” or even “8 Free” but don’t quite know what they mean? These products, 3-5-8 Free, all focus on removing certain known toxic ingredients from nail polishes. For decades, there were many toxic ingredients completely unknown to consumers. But in recent years, more light was shed on personal care products and the ingredients used, nail polish being one of the most commonly used offender.
The Toxic Three
Brands like OPI and Essie (usually known for their lasting quality and endless shade palettes) were brought under fire in 2006 for products containing “the toxic three.” These three chemicals, formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and toluene, have been widely studied and have been found to damage the human body. Some smaller off-name brands have dangerously high levels in their bottles.
One of the toxic three, formaldehyde, is a known preservative and carcinogen. DBP and toluene have been found to be an endocrine disruptors. DBP is known to mimic hormones that create neurological and reproductive damages in during pregnancy. Toluene has the same qualities as DBP in the way that it can negatively affect a woman’s healthy prenatal development. These “toxic three” were eliminated and the term “3 free” was born.
Moving to 5 Free
Going a step further, 5 Free removes the “toxic three” but also tosses out formaldehyde resin and camphor. formaldehyde resin, although not linked to cancer like formaldehyde, is a skin irritant that can cause dermatitis. Camphor is an odorous substance that when breathed in can cause dizziness, nausea and headaches. It poses serious risks for nail technicians who inhale camphor-filled products in large quantities.
Becoming 8 Free
For those who want to stay away from as many harmful chemicals as possible, there’s 8 Free. 8 Free means keeping parabens, sulfates and TPhP (triphenyl phosphate) also off the ingredients list.
Sulfates have a bad reputation for causing skin irritation and possible hair loss due to their use with hair color stripping products. They also have been linked to cancer, cataracts and liver and kidney failure. Parabens, possibly worse than sulfates, are used as a preservative and have been said to be cancer-causing. Sulfates additionally mimic hormones like estrogen in high doses and can change the body’s hormone composition.
TPhP is a fire retardant and plasticizer used in nail polishes. Once thought to not be harmful, TPhP is now linked to reproductive and developmental issues, metabolic disruption and other harmful effects.
Using certified 8 Free products is obviously the better choice, so you don’t have to worry about the research before using them–the research is done for you. If you’re interested in learning more, we recommend reading some of the articles below. Paint and polish with less worry!