My Update to Non Toxic Toes for Spring and Summer!

This website contains carefully researched content meant to guide readers in educated health decisions. Although I am not a physician or research scientist, I am a committed and careful researcher of technical information and share health tips which I have considered and used in my own journey of health as a breast cancer survivor. I am also mindful of citing sources and careful not to plagiarize. If you choose to share the information I have published, please extend the respect of citing this website and my name as the source of the information, or citing the sources I have shared out of respect to your readers who choose to trust you as a source or conduit of information in their own journey of health. - Christy Begien, Non-Toxic Lifestyle (c) 2024 All rights reserved, Denver Colorado.

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Don’t you love that almost everywhere we women are getting ready to don our favorite sandals and flip flops! Time to really scrub up and get our feet polished up and pretty. Ever notice the chemical odors when applying nail polish? The Environmental Working Group and Women’s Voices for the Earth deem these smells the “toxic trio.” And each of these “toxic trio” chemicals have been classified as the most toxic by the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database that I mentioned in my article, the “Perils of Parabens.

Since my last post, I’m sticking to my recommendations but have also found two new non-toxic products worth checking out. See them at the bottom of this article!

Chrsity Begien | The Non Toxic Lifestyle

It’s sandal season in many parts of the country, but many fingernail and toenail polishes contain a myriad of dangerous and toxic chemicals.

A Good Housekeeping article by Genevieve James goes further to say that “the reality is, nail polish is the most toxic cosmetic there is, so painting your nails every week is like coating them with a medley of dangerous toxins.” Read more about these nasty toxins, but know there are healthy, natural options for having sexy summer sandal feet!

The “Toxic Trio” – All of these chemicals are recognized carcinogens

All have been proven to damage our eyes, brain, lungs, endocrine and respiratory system.

  • Formadehyde — can also be listed as “formalin” on the label so don’t be fooled.
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) — has been linked to triggering asthma attacks, developmental and reproductive issues and cancer in animal testing. Sonya Lunder at the Environmental Working Group adds that DPB is a “potent hormone disruptor that affects the male reproductive system most dramatically.” Also banned in the European Union.
  • Toluene — a volatile solvent, also found in gasoline-also listed as “toluol” or “phynylmethane.”

Two More to add to the list – (Ecocult)

  • Benzophenone
  • Propyl Paraben There’s that nasty paraben word again! A toxic, preservative in many cosmetic products.

EcoWatch notes that some nail polish brands have almost 30 chemicals in them. They add to nail brittleness and are terrible for the environment. The United States doesn’t have any official certification for nail polishes or removers so we need to be our own advocates for reading labels.

Salon Manicures and What to be Wary of

Chrusty Begien | Remember to select non toxic nail polish this Spring

The dangers of toxic nail polishes go beyond the wearer, many nail salons require their technicians to wear masks to avoid excess exposure.

Gel manicures, while lasting two weeks before chipping, are loaded with many chemicals that cause itching, burning, scaling, hives and blistering of the skin. In addition, a toxic acetone remover is required to remove the polish. *Acetone is another “solvent” that has been linked to nervous system disorders. See below.

Acrylic nail services — ever wonder why the technicians wear masks?

Some salons using a poisonous and illegal substance called MMA in their nail adhesives. MMA is sometimes used to make artificial nails. This can cause serious damage to one’s lungs as well as permanent damage to your nails. The FDA classifies MMA as a “poisonous substance” and has deemed it unsuitable for salon use. Some salons still use MMA. Be sure to inquire, especially if they offer acrylic nail services.

Top Five Worst Nail Polish Brands according to the EWG

  • Orly (deemed the worst)
  • Cover Girl
  • OPI
  • Sally Hansen (including their nail polish strips)
  • L’Oreal

Top Five Healthier and Eco-Friendly Nail Polishes (also safer for kids)

Christy Begien | Non Toxic Toes for Spring!

It’s fun to play “grown up” with painted fingers and toes, just be sure to select the polish appropriately.

After much research (there’s a lot out there) these are the five that kept coming up with top ratings. They don’t all last as long as popular gel polishes, but when you consider your health I personally think the better choice is a 3 or 5-free polish brand. (minus the formaldehyde, DBP and toluene along with Benzophenone and Proplyl Paraben that I mentioned above.)Some of these companies offer everything from base coats to quick dry and top coats in addition to their polishes.


  • Butter London — I really like this London based company with lots of rich color pigments to choose from. None of the harsh chemicals and their vitamin formula actually promotes nail strength. They note that they are 7-free, adding no camphor and parabens. These polishes can be found on their website as well as Ulta and most Nordstrom stores for between $9 and $15 dollars. Some salons are now carrying a selection, too.
  • Zoya — I love this line as well. My current favorite is “Desi, ” a beautiful combo of coral and pink.  They claim to offer the longest-lasting, toxin free, vegan polish out there. They also release new colors each season and are a popular 5-free nail polish brand. Found at Target, Whole Foods, Amazon as well as their online store for around $9 per bottle. Made in the United States.
  • RGB — This eco-friendly is 5-free in addition to being vegan, gluten free with no animal testing. Made in the United States. Pricier than most at $18 but wears well. Can be found at some Madewell stores, DermStore and Amazon as well as their website
  • LVX — Claims to be vegan and 5-free. I haven’t tried this one myself but readers claim it lasts two weeks! Fans also love the high fashion, quality colors. Priced at around $16 and can be purchased at DermStore, Amazon and their website. Made in the US!
  • Deborah Lipman-One of my favorites as she has quite the collection of offerings! I love her “Love so Soft” and “Delicate”  which is a really nice neutral. Priced at $20 but free shipping if you establish an online account.

What About Nail Polish Removers?

Most salons and home consumers use Acetone as a nail polish remover. Acetone is a clear, strong-smelling and highly flammable liquid solvent. This stuff is so strong that it can even disintegrate  plastic and other solid materials. Yikes! Non-acetone removers usually contain ethyl acetate which is is colorless and also flammable. Probably not a great option either.

Christy Begien | The Non Toxic Lifestyle

Not all nail polishes are created equal, many contain toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, lacquer and other dangerous chemicals.

A few safe nail polish remover options:

A note-water based removers are going to require a little more time in taking polish off, but isn’t it a healthier option? Whatever you decided to use, please take the time to open windows for ventilation.

Safe Nail Strengthening Options

  • Biotin
  • B-Complex
  • L-Cysteine
  • Pre-natal vitamins (wonderful for nails AND hair)

Home Vs. Salon Treatments

When you go to a salon to get your nails done, ask if they have one of the non toxic options above, if they say "no," then consider bringing your own with you the next time.

When you go to a salon to get your nails done, ask if they have one of the non toxic options above, if they say “no,” then consider bringing your own with you the next time.

My home manicure and pedicures end up pretty ugly compared to salon treatments. That being said, my favorite polish remover for home is Zoya’s Remove Plus. I’ve taken it with me to salons along with my non-toxic polish choices. I highly encourage you all to seek out and read labels and look for brands that claim to be 3 or 5-free of the above- mentioned chemicals.

I also think a lot about those working in salons all day. If we can encourage our favorite salon owners to consider making the switch to using 3 and 5-free polish brands, it becomes a much healthier working environment for their staff as well.

Let me know your favorite non-toxic polish brands and I’ll be happy to publish them on my favorite links page!

My women readers, including me, are so looking forward to sandal season. Let’s put our best feet forward with healthy polishes starting this spring!

My New Recommendations

Ella+Mila – Initially inspired by the twin daughters (darlings named Ella and Mila) of one of the founders, the luxury brand took sail. Ella+Mila’s color range is a constant evolution of current colors, ranging from pastel pretties to bright neons to fall favorites to sexy metallics. In addition to being chip-resistant, quick dry and high shine, Ella+Mila nail colors contain no Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, TPHP, Xylene or Camphor, making it a seven chemical-free product. But the advantages don’t end there! Ella+Mila polishes are also cruelty-free, vegan with PeTA certification and proudly made in the USA. Approximately $10.50 each-a great price!

Karma Organic Nail Polish Remover – Award-winning soy based, packaged in 100% recyclable glass bottles and non-carconogenic.


Christy Begien | The Non Toxic Lifestyle




Allure Magazine-Sophia Panych (Oct. 2011)
EcoWatch-Jessica Zischke
Environmental Working Group
Good Housekeeping –Genevieve James (Nov. 2012)
SheKnows -Suki Kramer (April 2012)
Women’s Voices for the Earth

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  1. Sheri  March 24, 2015

    Christy — Thank you for providing such great information on toxic toe treatments. I love to have my toenails painted (but usually don’t because of the bother of keeping up the polish), but if I do, I will definitely follow your advice. Thank you!

  2. Susan  March 26, 2015

    Thank you for including where to purchase eco-friendly nail polish. So easy to make the transition to new best choices!

    • Christy Begien  March 27, 2015

      And some of the colors are amazing, Susan!! Glad you’re willing to try!

  3. Laura  April 2, 2015

    Love it! A simple step to protecting our health 🙂

  4. Kirsten Thomas  April 5, 2017

    Great post Christy! I used to get my nails done frequently and am now down to only a few times a year. I have my daughter use the “non-toxic” polish at home. I love that you bring your own remover…I have never thought of that. My mom always takes her own lotion and we often bring our own polish.