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Celebrate Earth Day – Check Your Ingredients

By on April 22, 2009
in Big 3 Free, Eco-conscious

Happy Earth Day kids!

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the “greenest” person when it comes to my daily life. I do drive a gas guzzling SUV so I can get through rough Cleveland winters, I’m not great at turning out lights when I leave a room and I do use paper towels religiously. But what I love about Earth Day is that it’s a way to check yourself. A reminder to look at your lifestyle and find ways to improve it that helps the planet.

Last year I made a commitment to waste less paper. I was terrible about writing stupid notes on full sheets of paper only to toss them later. So I dedicated myself to utilize my PDA and laptop for all my random scribblings. It’s not huge but it’s a good step. This year I want to focus more on recycling. We have a great recycling program in my neighborhood and I’m going to be more tenacious in my efforts. I would also like to break my paper towel habit.

So what will you do? What small change will you make for a greener globe? If you’re thinking of greening up your manicure routine by switching to less toxic polish, look no further for I have your ultimate shopping guide. You may remember last year that I published a pretty comprehensive list of polishes based on ingredients, well I’ve updated and made it even more thorough. Check it out!

For quick refresher on the ingredients we’re talking about, check out, The Big 3 (toxic chemical that is).

Formaldehyde and DBP Free polishes – Carolyn New York, CND (Creative Nail Design) and NYX

Big 3 Free polishes – butter London, Calvin Klein, China Glaze (black label), Color Club, Essie, Finger Paints, Hard Candy, Illamasqua, Maybelline Express Finish, Maybelline Salon Expert, Nicole, OPI (green label) and Sally Hansen Salon

Big 3 Free, No Formaldehyde Resin – MAC, Milani, N.Y.C. Long Wearing, Nailtini (except Vodka), NARS, Nocti, Orly, PeaceKeeper, Pop Beauty Nail Glam, Rescue Beauty Lounge, SpaRitual and Wet n’ Wild

Big 3 Free, No Formaldehyde Resin, No Camphor – Chanel, Dashing Diva, Dior, Estee Lauder, Givenchy, Lancome, Lippmann, L’oreal, No-Miss, Nubar, NYC In A New York Color Minute, Revlon, Rimmel London 60 Seconds, Sally Hansen Insta-Dri, Sante, Shades by Barielle, Shu Uemura, Sinful Colors and Zoya

Water based, Big 3 Free, No Formaldehyde Resin, No Camphor, No Ethyl Acetate – Acquarella, Honeybee Gardens, Sula and Suncoat
Note: Some brands have changed their formulas over the past few years so bottles of their old formulas may still be on shelves. Please check labels before purchasing.

Some additional ways you can green up your manicure include switching to a reusable glass nail file like the ones mentioned in Let’s Talk Files, using natural nail polish removers and replacing your orange sticks with a metal cuticle pusher.

What are you doing today to green up your lifestyle?

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There Are 46 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Emily says:

    Thanks for the great shopping guide. I’m happy that MAC is on the list because that’s one of my favourite brands. I’d love to try Zoya, but they don’t ship to where I live! How are water-based polishes’ formulas?

  2. Jessica says:

    I’m so glad a lot of brands are on those lists! Thanks for posting this, it’s really helpful. I’m also curious as to how water-based polishes are.

  3. CincyFan says:

    I’ve never found any of the water based brands in my local health food stores but I’m thinking of taking the plunge and ordering online from Suncoat since they have a blue and a green.

  4. Emily says:

    I would try it, and let us know of course :) I’ve always been curious about how water can make a polish, it seems like just taking water and adding food colour :) lol.

  5. MrsKiwiYeti says:

    My litte green gesture – I don’t use paper napkins any more. I bought a bunch of bandanas from the craft store, and use those instead. I’m not big on folding laundry, so I just roll them up, wad them up, maybe fold a few, then stick them in a decorative flower pot in the middle of the table. Easy!

  6. George says:

    Hi Michelle:

    I am a big fan of your web blog and your nail polishes swatches. As always, your manicured nails are always gorgeous and beautiful.

    If your readers want to find any more information about the toxic chemicals in their favorite nail polishes they should check out EWG’s Skin Deep, a database that gives a score of safety (1 good-5 bad) to all cosmetics and sanitary products (shampoo, conditioners, mascara, lip gloss, make-up, lotions, etc.) Here is their link:

    All you do is type in the product name or chemical your concerned with and they will give you a safety rating, chemical components, animal tested or not,etc. Plus, if your particular product happens to not be listed, they can do research and add your product to the Skin Deep database.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been using a brand for years that has always been 3 free- it’s called Color nail lacquer by Olan Labs– but it’s not on your list!!They have a great range of colors that really last! They also make a terrific nail strengthener called Nail Optimizer. Check it out.

  8. Alison says:

    Thanks for posting this as you hear a lot of chemical scare stories and it’s good to know which products are free from these potentially harmful chemicals. i spend a lot of money on my Chanels so I feel it’s a little more justified since they are B3F, and don’t contain other nasties as well.

  9. Barbara says:

    Thanks for the updated list of the “safest” nail polishes. I have just tried ORLY and I was so impressed with how smoothly it went on and the great coverage and long lasting quality of the polish. I usually use OPI and I like that brand,too. I did try Zoya last year and found it ot be too watery.

  10. melli says:

    Another thing to look for are ingredients in the base and top coats. I know a lot of folks like Seche Vite, which is great, but it does contain toluene, one of the big 3. If you want a 3 free alternative, Sally Hansen’s Insta-Dry top coat (red bottle) is similar in the fast dry category.

  11. Marie says:

    I have been using Amway prodcuts,and they’re usually very suitable.

  12. Rachel says:

    Beware of “green” nail polish removers that contain methyl alcohol (also called methanol). They are *extremely* poisonous!!! A very small amount can kill you and obviously is a very bad idea to have in your home if you have pets or small children. Caution!!!!

  13. CincyFan says:

    MrsKiwiYeti – what a great solution. thanks for sharing!

    George – I posted a link to the EWG’s database in my original Big 3 Free post but thanks for the reminder! :)

    Anon – thanks for the recommendation. i’ll check the brand out.

    Alison – yes, for the price they charge it is good to know their formula is B3F

    Barbara – Orlys seem to be hit or miss with me lately. Maybe I’m just buying the wrong colors. :)

    Melli – Thanks for the info. I should do a similar list for base and top coats as well.

    Marie – Interesting, I didn’t know Amway made nail polish

  14. Barbara says:

    Sorry about the mistake I made on 4/24/09. The polish that I thought was too watery was made by Suncoast, not Zoya. Sorry if I mislead anyone.

  15. Vee says:

    So then, from what I understand OPI uses Formaldehyde Resin in their nail polishes – what is the difference (health concern-wise) between straight up Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde resin? Clearly Formaldehyde Resin is not on the big 3 list, but it is still Formaldehyde… *sigh*

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      Actually, Formaldehyde Resin is not Formaldehyde. The chemical process to turn it into a resin changes it into something completely new. The concern some people have with Formaldehyde Resin is allergies. So I make sure I state which polishes contain it so that my readers don’t have an allergic reaction. But it doesn’t have the same effects on the body as straight up formaldehyde. If you have any health concerns regarding either ingredient, I suggest you talk to your doctor.

  16. Vee says:

    Thanks so much for the info! I use OPI all the time and don’t have any issues with it. The strange thing is I have had reactions to hardeners with straight up formaldehyde in them so perhaps the resin doesn’t bother me in the same way…I’ll be sure to do some more research. :D

    Honestly I’ve been looking for a good “run down” of popular nail polishes in regards to the Big 3 issue for so long now – and yours is great! I hope you’ll keep updating it if anything changes. :)

  17. diane says:

    What about YSL? Also, is there a difference between Essie black label and blue label?

    • Denette says:

      PBI: They black label is the old B3 formula, and the blue label is the B3F formula. HTH!

  18. lm says:

    A little distressing not to see Misa here anywhere. I’ve checked their site and I didn’t see any notes either way as to what their formulas contain.
    Any info?

  19. Sandi says:

    I see a lot of polish addicts saying that they prefer products that contain the B3 for the better quality of application and staying power and that they don’t believe the exposure level is high enough from nail products to be a hazard. Considering the many different things in the last few decades that have proven to be hazardous to our health (sometimes in the extreme), why take the chance? Yes I paint my nails an average of 5-7 times a week, no I didn’t toss my B3 polishes (yet), but why fight safer alternatives? I don’t get it. I’m not going to use lead based paint or asbestos containing building materials in my home even though we have no children. It’s just not worth the risk.

  20. Duchess says:

    What about BB Couture? I think they should be added to the list. Thanks!

    • Duchess says:

      Sorry BB couture nail polish contains phthalic acid even thought they claim to be 3free :-(

  21. Oh I missed out of the HIV Tests Day. It was yesterday. Miss out this news. Undesirable factor is my firm didn’t support me to diagnosis.

  22. Tiffany says:

    One point I want to ask is how did you obtain all of these informations?
    It was hard for me to obtain all info., especially in CND, or like Chanel websites.
    CND was so vague, the nail treatment was definetly big 3 free, but nothing was said in the colours+effects
    It is nice to see a site like this :)

  23. Romy says:

    Thankyou so much for this – have just found out I am allergic to formaldehyde resin and was getting worried that I’d have to get rid of all my lovely Chanel polishes, luckily it looks like it’s only a couple of Nails Inc that need to go! This is the only place I’ve found that tells you anything about which polishes to avoid, and it’s so helpful – no more worries about when my eyes are going to swell up!

  24. Michelle B. says:

    What about Elizabeth Arden? Do you know about it’s ingredients?
    Thanks for your attention!

  25. ydelle says:

    I noticed you have Milani on the list but the label has formaldehyde on it????

  26. Mindy says:

    Does anyone know if Boots No.7 stay perfect nail varnish is B3F? I have tried to find the ingredients online, but i’ve had no joy.

  27. Marutea says:


    I’m a big fan of the OPI nail polish i I would like to know if they are really Free of toluene, formaldehyde, DBP and camphor ? Thank you for your response.
    NB : i’ve send them a comment on their facebook page and my comment was erased !!!Don’t know why. Thank you

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      They really are free of Toluene, Formaldehyde, DBP and camphor but it depends on how old the polish is. Always check the label first. Older polishes, pre-India collection, still contained toluene and DBP.

  28. Debbie says:

    What about borghese nail polishes? Do they contain those harmful substances?


  29. Debbie says:

    HI there,
    Thanks for this really useful info, is this list up to date and have you done a guide to topcoat/ basecoat etc?

  30. Sunshade says:

    Thans for the info. Whats about rimmel lycra pro? You write only about 60 seconds…

  31. Anie says:

    N.Y.C. New York Color Long-Wearing Nail Enamel contains dibutyl phthalate. Seeing as this post is almost 3 years old, and the RiteAid near my house are pretty busy and enjoy clearencing products regularly, I doubt they have 4 year old bottles of polish on their shelf.

    • All Lacquered Up says:

      This post was based on the formula at the time. I based the post on information given to me by the manufacturer.

  32. Zingara says:

    I LOVE Zoya! I’ve been painting my nails for roughly 30 years, using mostly Revlon, Sally Hansen, and OPI. Then I discovered Zoya. I wanted to switch some of my old chemical-based polishes for “clean” ones. They have great customer service! I was able to send them…on a piece of clear plastic…samples of my old colours for them to match. They did it, no problem. They emailed me the list of polishes and I bought their colour spoon samples, and went from there. I now have 7 bottles of Zoya, all of which last beautifully for 7-10 days…longer than anything I’ve ever put on my nails! And I’m rough with my hands—designing jewellery/wire-working, cleaning without gloves, etc. Just follow the steps they tell you to, and I think you’ll discover a great product AND great customer service!

  33. Erin says:

    Thanks for the updated list however you forgot about Julep! They are Big 3 free and formaldehyde resin free.
    I was wondering about Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics nail polishes. The site says they’re vegan (so I assume they are big 3 free) but are they also free of the resin and camphor too? If anyone knows it would greatly appreciated!

  34. embracetheasian says:

    Can you make an updated list of 3 free, 5 free, etc. I wish more brands would start become more then 3 free cause I love my polishes when I can afford them.