We love a good mani-pedi, even if we have to do it ourselves. And these cruelty-free, clean nail polish brands are just the thing.
It may seem a little odd to spend time on painting nails when typing all day only chips them off in a few days. But you’ll want to indulge in those selfies with a little nail glow-up using clean and sustainable nail polish brands instead of the conventional stuff.
What’s wrong with conventional nail polish?
While a number of major brands have moved away from some of the more heinous ingredients, there are still dangers, especially for salon workers.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, prolonged exposure to common chemicals found in conventional nail polishes, has shown strong links to conditions as extreme as asthma and cancer, to headaches and dizziness, respiratory issues, and fainting.
Nail polish can contain harmful ingredients including formaldehyde—a known carcinogen—along with toluene and dibutyl phthalate. Brands that leave these ingredients out will often tout their nail polish as ‘three-free.’ You may also see ‘five-free’ and that means the polishes are also free from formaldehyde resin and camphor.
While these ingredients can help give you a polish that’s smooth and long-lasting, the risks may not be worth it. A 2015 study by Duke University researchers found another chemical, triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), a suspected endocrine disruptor, in the urine of every study participant who had recently had their nails painted. The levels spiked after a nail painting session.
According to the Environmental Working Group, at least half of the more than 3,000 nail products in its Skin Deep Database disclose the use of TPHP including brands Sally Hansen Sparitual, Revlon, and Butter London.
The best clean nail polish to try
Clean nail polish has come a long way in recent years as brands get more innovative with colors and ingredients that bring all of the fun without animal testing or toxic ingredients. Check out our favorite nail colors for the fall season and beyond.
1. Smith & Cult
Smith and Cult’s approach to beauty and eliminating sameness empowers its consumers to express their individuality through make-up. All the formulas as vegan, cruelty-free and 8-free. The brand has carefully created its polishes to be cleaner and safer without having to sacrifice smooth coverage, brilliant shine, or longevity. And what a great motto: Go easy on the planet, go hard on nail art.
It’s always the right time for this glittery black color, named Dirty Babe.
2. Deborah Lippmann
In love with the look and feel of gel nails but aren’t in love with the damage they cause? Deborah Lippmann has created the perfect, healthy alternative. Its Gel Lab Pro requires no lamps and no tools. The gel-like formula recreates the gloss and durability of a gel manicure, safely. The unique contour brush makes applying the polish yourself oh-so-easy. The patented 10-ingredient formula is loved by celebrities like Lady Gaga and Julia Roberts.
This color, dubbed Nasty, is described as burnished plum. The iridescent reds, golds, and oranges are sheer perfection.
3. Ella + Mila
Meet your new go-to nail polish brand. Ella + Mila is quickly becoming a cult favorite amongst the nail artists in the world. The brand was founded on the idea of delivering a line of lacquer that was eco-friendly yet high-end. The founders strive to provide fashionable products and shades without compromise of quality. The polishes are chip-resistant, quick-drying, and high-shine.
If glittery or shimmery is not your speed, you can never go wrong with a subtle French mani. This duo kit helps you create just that.
Focused on supporting women, giving back, and luxuriously clean, vegan ingredients, Sundays is a must for any nail polish lover.
The brand’s community-focused ethos is built on the necessity of cultivating personal wellness in order to bring more kindness and compassion to the world. It frequently donates portions of sales to causes like Stop AAPI Hate. The long-lasting shades means you can go longer between mani-pedis and use less product each time.
All of the products are formulated with the consumers’ peace of mind as a guiding principal. Enjoy the luxe, creamy classical colors without sacrificing health. The Powder Rose is a timeless color perfect for any season.
Côte’s founders Mary Lennon and Leah Yari created the brand to deliver a safe, clean, and luxury nail experience. The colors are all cruelty-free, vegan, and toxin-free. All bottles are crafted from Italian glass, and the brushes are designed to last (you can even reuse them after a wash).
The brand is committed to being the cleanest and safest nail polish brand on the market.
All of the colors are truly to-die-for, but the Rose Gold is a timeless classic that will make you feel like you just had a top-quality mani-pedi.
Just like its skincare, this vegan budget brand is free from harmful chemicals. It touts its nail polish as being ‘seven-free’, so you can be sure it’s safer than the conventional stuff. It goes on smooth and comes in a range of gorgeous colors.
Yes, Hermès makes nail color and it’s made without the toxic nasties formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, and TPHP.
8. Nails Inc.
Nails Inc. put kale in its base coat and has continued to surprise since. Its gorgeous 21-free collection is made without toluene, benzene, hydroquinone (HQ), 4-MEHQ, TPHP, nonylphenol ethoxylates, tert-butyl hydroperoxide, chromium oxide greens, bismuth oxychloride, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, phthalates, cyclic silicones, camphor, and methyl ethyl ketone (MEK).
Nailtopia isn’t just free from a range of harsh chemicals, but it also includes plant-based ingredients including potatoes and wheat in its formulas for a polish that doesn’t chip and looks great. It’s made without toluene, xylene, acetone, phthalates (including DBP and DPHP), formaldehyde, formaldehyde releasers, tosylamide/formaldehyde resin, TPHP, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, tert-butyl hydroperoxide, glycol ethers of series E, organic sulfates, hydroquinone (HQ), 4-methoxyphenol (MEHQ), bisphenol A, parabens, methylisothiazolinone (MIT), triclosan, animal-derived ingredients, and gluten.
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