3-free. 5-free. You’ve probably seen these phrases associated with nail polish.
Wondering what they mean?
Nail polish, as you can probably guess, is one of the more toxic cosmetics you can use. Filled with some pretty harmful chemicals, conventional polish is a green beauty no-no.
One of these ingredients is toluene. Toluene is a petrochemical solvent, used in nail polish to create a smooth application and help the polish adhere to nails. It is also responsible for the obnoxiously strong smell you get from mainstream polish. How toxic is it? Let’s just say that it’s sometimes used as an inhalant drug for its intoxicant effects.
“…a potent neurotoxicant that acts as an irritant, impairs breathing, and causes nausea. Mother’s exposure to toluene vapors during pregnancy may cause developmental damage in the fetus. In human epidemiological studies and in animal studies toluene has been also associated with toxicity to the immune system and a possible link to blood cancer such as malignant lymphoma.” ~The Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database
Nail polishes that say 3-free or 5-free are void of the most harmful nail polish ingredients: Dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, toluene (formaldehyde resin and camphor). These are less stinky, less toxic, come in a crazy huge assortment of colors, and perform like a dream.
If you are looking for toluene on a product label, it’s synonyms are: BENZENE, METHYL; BENZENE, METHYL-; METHYL- BENZENE; METHYLBENZENE; TOLUOL; ANTISAL 1A; BENZENE, METHYL-; CP 25; METHACIDE; METHANE, PHENYL-; METHYLBENZENE.
It is not tough to avoid toluene. But it is necessary if you are looking for a safer nail polish.
[Image by Tormod Ulsberg at Flickr.com, cc]