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Nail Polish Allergy: Yes, You Can Be Allergic to Polish!

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Do you love the idea of wearing nail polish, but the harsh chemical used in many formulations cause the skin around your nails to become red, sore, swell, and/or split?

Then you may have a nail polish allergy yes, it’s a thing. And it’s a bit of a dirty little secret that the industry doesn’t talk about, because of the popularity of nail salons and techniques like acrylics and gels.

Here we take a look at why this may be happening to you, and what you can do to remedy the situation.


Nail Polish Allergy

Not surprisingly, there are many chemicals in most popular brands of nail polish that will not only severely damage your nails with overuse but can also affect your body’s tissues and cause severe illness over the long term.

Not surprisingly, there are many chemicals in most popular brands of nail polish that will not only severely damage your nails with overuse but can also affect your body’s tissues and cause severe illness over the long term.

This is why in recent years, manufacturers have upgraded their formulations to be free of chemicals like parabens, formaldehyde, toluene, and camphor.

These new nail polishes have come onto the market because of higher customer awareness of ingredients that can cause damage to their bodies.

Hooray, it’s always great when the industry improves due to changing consumer preferences and needs!

And although these cleaner nail polishes sometimes don’t have the staying power of many of the more popular brands, they are much safer to use, especially if you love decorating your fingertips regularly.

Many of the harsh chemicals included in most available nail polish brands can cause allergic reactions, such as burning and swelling of your cuticles and surrounding tissue, as well as contact dermatitis.

And it’s not just fingers that can be affected.

Contact dermatitis can even develop around your eyelids, as well as behind your ears, along your neckline, and around your mouth and chin.

Basically, it can erupt just about anywhere on your face that your hand touches, even occasionally.

Many of the harsh chemicals included in most available nail polish brands can cause allergic reactions, such as burning and swelling of your cuticles and surrounding tissue, as well as contact dermatitis.

Intense redness and swelling will develop soon after exposure to nail polish when it’s wet, while a rash may also appear up to 48 hours after contact. The affected skin then has the potential to become even more swollen, blistered, or dry and flaky.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of these chemical nasties, and what they do to cause the most harm to your skin.


Nail Polish No-Nos

Embellishing your finger and toenails shouldn’t come at a cost to your overall health. But unfortunately, there’s always a chance that it can.

This is the reality of many different types of cosmetics and their weird formulations.

Larger manufacturers of beauty brands generally are only concerned about profit over customer safety, regardless of the press releases and glitzy launches.

Larger manufacturers of beauty brands generally are only concerned about profit over customer safety, regardless of the press releases and glitzy launches.

And this means if you end up having an adverse reaction, it’s generally up to you (and perhaps your doctor) to figure out what the exact culprit is. And you’ll be the one who has to live with it.

Many studies have shown that the following chemicals listed, which are used in most brands of nail polish, can be absorbed into the body with prolonged use.

This is why you should always take a break every now and then from polishing your nails (and especially nail extensions and fake nails), which will allow your nails to breathe, as well as keep your cuticles well moisturized.

So, let’s take a look at the more common chemicals that can cause a nail polish allergy…

Camphor

An oil that originates from the wood of the camphor tree, the chemical version is used in nail polish to create shine and gloss. However, it is extremely toxic and is fatal to children when ingested, even in small doses.

And as far as inhalation is concerned, simply breathing it in can cause dizziness, headache, and nausea, as well as seizures.

DBP

Also known by its full name of di-butyl phthalate, DBP is a chemical that is added to plastic to make them more pliable. It is used in nail polish to improve lasting power.

In 2004, popular nail polish brand OPI was forced to remove the chemical in its products in Europe, after the EU banned it because of studies showing that it caused reproductive birth defects in newborn boys. DBP has also been linked to causing cancer in lab animals.

Formaldehyde

This chemical is known mostly for the fact that it is used to inhibit bacterial growth, and embalm dead bodies before burial — yes, really. So, does that make it sound like something you want putting on your nails?

Besides this yuck factor, formaldehyde, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a probable human carcinogen, which means that it has the potential of causing cancer.

Parabens

You’ve probably heard about these toxic chemicals by now, since more people become aware of the dangers of parabens like methylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben, which have been used as preservatives to keep the ingredients of skin care products free of mold, bacteria, and fungi.

However, parabens have also been associated to have an increased risk of causing both skin cancer, and breast cancer, so they are chemicals that should definitely be avoided.

Toluene

This chemical is a solvent that’s most commonly used in paint and paint thinners, printing inks, silicone sealants, glues, and disinfectants. It has a pungent odor when it’s exposed to air, and becomes a vapor that can irritate the nose and throat.

The result of toluene exposure can then cause both headaches, nausea, and breathing difficulties on top of skin irritation like redness, swelling, and allergic contact dermatitis.

Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin

Also known as tosylamide/formaldehyde resin, or TSFR, this is the chemical that used to cause the majority of allergic reactions as it was used in most base coats to improve sticking to the nail surface.

This is why many nail polishes are now marketed as TSFR-free, which has led to a big decline in those reporting adverse effects from this chemical.

TPHP

Triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP, is also a plasticizer and flame retardant, which some nail polish manufacturers used to reformulate their products after removing DBP.  However, studies have shown that it is also a potential toxin that does harm to the body.

In addition, TPHP is an endocrine disruptor, which means it has a negative effect on your hormones when the chemical is absorbed through your skin and nails. And it has been linked to weight gain. Ummm… no thank you!

TPHP is an endocrine disruptor, which means it has a negative effect on your hormones when the chemical is absorbed through your skin and nails. And has been linked to causing weight gain. Ummm… no thank you!

Xylene

Xylene is a hydrocarbon that occurs naturally in petroleum, coal and wood tar. It’s used in nail polish as a solvent that works to thin the formulation.

It also produces a sweet-smelling odor.

However, xylene is rapidly absorbed when inhaled, even while you’re painting your nails. And it has the ability to not only irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract, but can also cause issues like breathing problems, and stomach discomfort, and is a probable carcinogen.


Last Tips

If you have a bad reaction to any of the chemicals mentioned above, then you need to be more aware of your nail polish allergy. Luckily, there are now “clean” 3-Free, 5-Free, 7-Free, and even 20-Free nail polish formulations on the market that you can buy.

100% PURE Zer0 20-Free Nail Polish Red Over Heels Long Wear Breathable Vibrant Color Less 20 Common Toxic Ingredients True Red Natural Based Care & Paint - Vegan, Cruelty-Free
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So, the higher the number, the less likely it is that it will cause you to have an allergic reaction. However, do your research before application, because it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your overall health.

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