For some people nails without nail polish is like a face without makeup. They just do not feel fully dressed without it. To me, however, nail polish always smells like turpentine. How safe are they?
It may not come as a surprise that nail polish ingredients are NOT required to be FDA approved before being stocked on store shelves. Many of these ingredients are ... among other things ... endocrine disruptors.
Top Five Toxic Ingredients
- Toluene - neurological damage, impaired breathing, hearing loss, nausea, developmental impairment, reproductive damage, immune system toxicity and blood cancers
- Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) - endocrine disruptor and mimics hormone estrogen in the body, causes organ damage (liver), reproduction and developmental problems
- Formaldehyde - considered a carcinogen (throat, nose, blood) by the National Cancer Institute; chronic health issues like asthma, convulsions, nausea, miscarriages, and abnormal fetal development. Banned 100% in Japan and Sweden
- Formaldehyde Resin - can cause severe skin irritation, allergic reactions, skin depigmentation and loss of nerve sensation
- Camphor - shown to trigger severe skin irritation and allergic reactions when applied topically, inhaling its fumes can cause nausea, dizziness, and headaches, organ damage....such as liver dysfunction
"It Is Only Toxic When Wet"
Actually, a study suggests that we absorb at least one hormone-disrupting chemical per each polish application.
TPP (Triphenyl Phosphate) ... a hormone-disrupting chemical in about 49% of 3000 polishes ... is used to make the polish stick stronger to the nail. When TPP is metabolized the body creates DPHP (Diphenyl Phosphate). In a study urine samples "before" polish was applied were compared to urine samples "after" the polish was applied. There was a sharp increase after 14hrs of polish being directly applied to the nails. This is proof that polish chemicals get absorbed long after the polish dries.
What about other types of polish?
This application may require exposure to UV light, a known cancer risk. Some are using LED light which is safer.
The removal of the gel polish is destructive to the nail plate:
> nails are soaked in "acetone"
> buffing/scraping/peeling off polish
Nails can become brittle and dry if worn for long periods.
Powder Dip Polish
This method applies a bonding polish which acts as an adhesive for the polish. There are two different methods for powder application:
- nails are dipped into the powder
- powder is brush applied
If a common dipping bowl is used for multiple people, or a clean brush is not used for each client, there is an increased risk of bacteria, fungi and viruses. In addition, there is a harsh removal process similar to that of gel polish damaging the nail plate.
Non-toxic polish was first labeled "3-free". This was an indication that the top 3 toxic ingredients had been removed. Unfortunately, they were replaced with other potentially harmful chemical. As these chemicals became identified a new "5-free" label was introduced ... then a "7-free" ... a "10-free" and even a "13-free" non-toxic polish.
The problem with these "non-toxic" polishes is that they still have that characteristic smell of polish. These polishes can still contain "acetates" ... ethyl acetate for example ... commonly used as solvents for varnishes and lacquers.
So, if you do not want the possible effects of toxic chemicals ... but, on the other hand ... feel naked without nail polish, check out a "Water-Based" polish such as Suncoat or Kapa Nui. These contain no flammable or toxic ingredients.
One morning my husband and I were on our way to our place of worship. We had eaten a nice breakfast. We picked up a young friend to ride with us. When we arrived about 15 minutes later we dropped off our friend and then had to leave. We were having such a hard time focusing and forming our thoughts. And, even though we had eaten breakfast, we were absolutely feeling this deep, hollow pit in our stomachs!! How could we possibly be hungry?
And then, it dawned on me. We were feeling the effects of our young passenger’s perfume!
I know what you must be thinking .... “how can smelling something affect our gut?”
Consider what happens when you smell bread or an apple pie baking? Does your mouth start watering? Do you feel yourself getting hungry and wanting to eat?
The part of our brain called the hypothalamus helps control our hunger. When the hypothalamus is stimulated it signals the pancreas to release hormones to adjust the blood sugar as needed. For example, when carbohydrates are eaten the hypothalamus signals the pancreas to produce insulin to help lower the blood sugar. If blood sugar needs to be raised, glucagon is released. In turn the liver is prompted to release stored glucose.
This efficient control of blood sugar gets disrupted when someone has environmental illnesses such as MCS or Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. Due to damage from toxins such as heavy metals and free radicals those of us with these conditions may feel exaggerated brain related symptoms from high blood sugar.....a so-called “heightened” sugar sensitivity.
What comes next is the well-known “sugar crash” followed by hunger. This is exactly what we experienced and I still experience.
So, can environmental fragrances affect our gut? Absolutely!!! They are “external” stimulants just like food smells are. These can include:
- Carpet chemicals
- Detergents/Dryer Sheets/Cleaning Products
- Hair/Personal Care Products
- New Cars/Furniture/Clothes
- Air Fresheners
Everyone and their neighbor typically use lawn chemicals whether for weed or mosquito control. One summer was so bad that even though my husband ate like a horse … he still “lost” weight and he didn’t have any extra to lose.
So, can what we breathe affect our gut health? Absolutely!!
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