Reading labels has become a common practice these days, and with good reason—unfortunately, many of our favorite beauty and household products are jam-packed with potentially toxic chemicals. Over the years, polish manufacturers have responded to the hype in the best way possible: by eliminating the most controversial ingredients from their formulas. Read on to find out why your favorite brands have decided to go 3-free and why you should too.
So what exactly does it mean to be “3-free?” It means a lacquer’s formula is free from the “Toxic Trio” a.k.a. formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and toulene. The EPA defines formaldehyde as a “colorless, flammable gas that has a strong odor.” Often used as a hardening agent in lacquer, this toxic ingredient can cause irritation to your skin, eyes and nose, and high levels of exposure have been linked to several types of cancers. DBP is used as a plasticizer in lacquer. It makes the formula flexible on nails and less prone to chipping or cracking. Unfortunately, DBP has been linked to hormonal disruption and reproductive issues. Toluene is the ingredient that leaves nails with a smooth finish. However, it can be absorbed into your body, and high levels of exposure can result in skin irritation, organ system toxicity or developmental and reproductive issues.
While most of the dangers of these ingredients will come with high levels of exposure, it’s best not to put yourself at risk. Luckily, most manufacturers have eliminated the Toxic Trio from their polish bottles. You may be wondering, does polish still perform the same without those ingredients? The short answer is yes. The only noticeable difference? Your polish may separate quicker. But don’t worry, you can still use it! Simply rub the bottle between your palms to mix the ingredients together before you polish.
Have you made the transition to 3-free formulas? Share your experiences with non-toxic polish in the comments below!