A number of click bait articles appeared in my “nail polish” google alert this morning. Things like, “Your Nail Polish Might Be Making You Gain Weight” and “Toxic Nail Polish Ingredient Found in Women’s Bodies.” OMG, you guys, we’re all going to die!! I mean, if we’re going to buy into those melodramatic headlines, we may as well have the proper freak-out response, no? Now I can blame weight gain on my affection for sparkle, and any illness on the need for pretty nails. All jokes aside, let’s break down what is happening.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit research group dedicated to helping people live a healthier life by knowing more about their environment. They are claiming that an ingredient, TPHP, a suspected endocrine-disrupting chemical, is entering the bloodstream through nail polish, that a number of mainstream brands include the ingredient, and some don’t even list it. The problem is their research has been somewhat alarmist in the past. Like when they reported that 3-Free polishes actually contained Toluene or DBP, and everyone freaked out until it was revealed to be in brands very few people had heard of.
According to the EWG, brands containing TPHP include: Beauty Without Cruelty, butter LONDON, Essie, Maybelline, Milani, Nuance by Salma Hayek, OPI, Orly, Revlon, Sally Hansen, SpaRitual, theBalm, Wet n Wild. The EWG started a petition to ask the brands to remove the ingredient.
To get a different point of view, I turned to Doug Schoon, scientist and nail industry expert/consultant. He’s a go-to expert for the professional nail industry and I knew he would have a take on this situation. Turns out, he has a very lengthy take on it all based on reading the actual research and his 30+ years of experience. You can read ALL of his preliminary findings HERE. My boiled-down take is that the levels of TPHP in the system from nail polish exposure is no more significant than the level found in our bodies from everyday exposure to other environmental factors, and the EWG is blowing things out of proportion.
Finally, there is at least one reporter getting a different perspective instead of just taking the EWG at face value. WWD consulted with a medical expert and a scientist from the Personal Care Product Council, in addition to contacting the named brands (who referred to the PCPC). Their piece is well balanced and informative.
The point of all this… I don’t want you putting down the bottle when you see those alarming headlines, and I want you to educate yourself about both points of view. I personally think additional research is needed to prove that TPHP in nail polish is actually harmful, though I’m totally expecting brands not listed above to add another number to their “Free” list. What are we at now, 25-Free? We’ll soon be polishing our nails with colored water and calling it “50-Free.”
I’d love to hear your take on all of this. Has the crackdown on ingredients gone too far? Do you care about anything over 3-Free?