Choosing Solvent-Based Vs Water-Based Nail Polishes

Choosing Solvent-Based Vs Water-Based Nail Polishes

When it comes to beauty products, there are a lot of different terms, formulations, and ingredients you may not be familiar with. One of our reasons for bringing you clean beauty products was because we were tired of seeing ingredients we didn't recognize, couldn't pronounce, and wanted to bring a cleaner nail polish to the market.



An important differentiation when talking about nail polish is water-based vs solvent-based. What’s the difference? Is one better than the other? Since water is a familiar ingredient, the assumption is that the product is that safer.  We’re here to break it down for you.


Water-based nail polish uses water as the main ingredient in the polish base, rather than an oil or chemical solvent. These water-based formulas are often embraced by beauty brands looking to market a cleaner product, aiming to reduce the amount of chemicals and odors in the polishes. Water-based polishes are often less durable, and many are advertised as peel-off formulations which is not ideal for nail strengthening and overall nail health.  


Alternatively, solvent-based nail polish is what you typically find at your local drugstore or nail salon.  These types of polishes use either an oil or a chemical solvent as the base to suspend pigments and other ingredients with a longer lasting finish. While many solvent-based polishes have chemicals and other unwanted toxins floating around, not all solvent based polishes are created equal.  Often used as way to cut costs, many nail polish manufacturers have dumped harmful chemicals into products without care.  Thankfully its not a requirement for solvent-based formulas to be harmful and they certainly are not all created equal!  

 Mixing Taylor Made Polish blue nail polish


Did you know Taylor Made Polish is actually solvent-based?


Here’s the reason why.  While water-based polishes sound familiar, and cleaner, since they’re roughly 55% water, they’re usually only 6- or 7- ingredients free. When that is the case, they still contain some less than ideal ingredients that may not meet the parameters we set for our products and vary widely from brand to brand. While sure, some solvent-based polishes are filled with chemicals, our solvent based formulation is unique in that it is 10-free, so it has even fewer "bad" ingredients than most water-based counterparts.




What is 10-free?


10-free formulations mean the polish does not contain the following ingredients:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Toluene
  • DBP
  • Camphor
  • Formaldehyde Resin
  • Xylene
  • Ethyl Tosylamide
  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • TPHP (triphenylphosphate)


Why wouldn’t you want these ingredients in your nail polish?


For starters, most of these are hard to even pronounce. Second, these are chemical ingredients that have big health implications. Not only is nail polish going near your skin, it’s going on your nails and may enter your mouth, eyes, or food. That’s a bit too close for comfort! For example, formaldehyde is a skin irritant, carcinogen, and a preservative. Similarly, triphenylphosphate can cause allergic skin reactions. Since anything touching your skin can be absorbed or result in a contact reaction, what you’re putting on your nails matters! We believe great, long lasting nail polish can be made without the additives.  And our years of development prove it.  


So, when it comes to choosing your nail polish formulas, it’s not "all about that base", but rather the total package. While water-based products may be suitable for some it ultimately depends on what ingredients are most important for YOU to avoid, along with considering the durability, odor and ease of use.  In the end, it's a very personal decision and our solvent-based formula was created to provide an effective and clean polish that is 10-free and long wearing. When in doubt, read the labels, do your research, and make the best decision for you!

Taylor Made Polish Blue manicure