Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Safer polish for bright summer toes

I have been noticing my toes a lot lately. It’s hard not to since summer is really the season of toes. Mine stand out because they aren’t painted and it seems that summer toes without nail polish are a bit like a yard without flowers. As much as I’d love to have them painted bright pink, just knowing what nail polish can do to a body has kept me polish-free for several years now.

There are a couple of reasons why I stopped using nail polish. First, I can’t stand the smell of it (inhalation is one of the ways toxins enter out bodies). Even women who won’t go a day without polish can’t deny that the stuff smells toxic. As is often the case, something that smells toxic… is toxic, which brings me to the other reason why I stopped using polish: When you paint your nails a mixture of toluene, formaldehyde and a chemical plasticizer called dibutyl phthalate (DBP) is absorbed into your tissue. These chemicals have the worst profile in the beauty industry

• Toluene can cause headaches, eye & nose irritation, nervous system disorders, liver and kidney damage.
• Formaldehyde is known to cause cancer and reproductive problems.
• DBP is linked to reproductive damage. It is known to cause birth defects in animals and is banned in the European Union. Tests have found high levels of the substance in teenage girls, which researchers have attributed to nail polish.

It’s a wonder that the stuff is even legal!
While many brands are now formaldehyde and toluene-free, the chemicals used to replace these substances are hardly any better. Plus, regular polish still contains DBP.

A few years ago a friend put me onto the Canadian brand, Suncoat, www.suncoatproducts.com. They have formulated water-based polish that is free of the toxic chemicals I mentioned above and have also expanded their range of colours to now carry the shade of pink I love. So this week I had no qualms about caving into my six-year-old’s zillionth request for polish (and my own craving for pink toes).

Another problem with regular polish is that the chemicals used to remove it are as bad as the polish itself. Nail polish remover is a solvent, just like paint remover. Don’t let the packaging lull you into believing that it’s any different than the paint remover your dad stored in the basement when you were little.

Suncoat makes a natural, corn-based remover that works on its own products as well as regular nail polish. Or you can avoid remover altogether and do as Suncoat suggests (for their polish): soak your nails in hot water for a few minutes and gently scrape the polish off with your nails.

If you love to paint your nails do yourself a favour and give water-based polish a try.

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