January 22nd 2020
If you've ever had little skin irritations on your hands or even itchy eyes, I'll bet you've looked at your face cream or other skincare as your culprit; but surprisingly it could be your nail polish that's causing trouble. Just as with any other beauty product, they can contain ingredients that cause allergies or sensitivities or even something more sinister, so while that glossy manicure might look chic on the outside it's not so sweet on the inside.
Thankfully, most brands are now at the very least 3-free, meaning they've removed the worst of the chemicals - dibutyl phthalate or DBP, a plasticiser; formaldehyde, a known carcinogen; and toluene, a toxic ingredient found in solvents - from the formula. However, that can still leave some of the leading culprits of allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis hiding in the bottle; and whether or not you're sensitive, wouldn't you rather a 'cleaner' version of polish? I know I would - here's my pick of the best brands who are offering more than the bare minimum when it comes to safer formulas.
Created by session manicurist Helen J, HJ Manicure polishes are cruelty free and vegan while remaining gloriously stylish and trend-conscious. The 5-free formula contains no DBP, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, or camphor to minimise sensitivities and is one of the fastest-drying formulas I've ever used. The quality is impressive, too; large, chic bottles with a well-sized brush make application a dream and the finish is glossy and smooth.
£9.50, Buy online
Despite its name (surely it needn't have been such a mouthful?) this polish from allergy-tested powerhouse Clinique is one which made people take notice of those of us with sensitive skin. With such a big brand getting behind the idea of skin-friendly formulas, it would be hard to ignore and at the time of its launch it created quite the buzz as slowly everyone realised you can't just slather yourself in any old chemical without the chance of irritating consequences. Though they're a little vague about what it is they've come up with that makes it so safe, Clinique spent six years creating this 5-free formula which has been tested by dermatologists and ophthalmologists alike to ensure it's kind to both sensitive skins and sensitive eyes. The polishes themselves are hard-wearing despite their kinder nature, too.
£12, Buy online
This French brand has fewer synthetic chemicals than standard polishes and instead fulfils on trendy shades with an 85% natural formula. A 4-free polish, Kure contains no toluene, formaldehyde, DBP or camphor and instead is based on nature's finest, from wheat and cotton to corn and wood pulp. With slick packaging and a recently launched first-of-its-kind 100% natural polish remover to boot, this is one brand to watch for bringing 'natural' beauty into the limelight.
£15, Buy online
As the UK's only 9-free polish, this one wins hands down for sensitive, chemical-conscious nail painters. It's free from: formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, parabens, camphor, DBP, xylene, ethyl tosylamide and lead, as well as being vegan-friendly. You can read the full descriptions of each of these on their refreshingly info-packed website but whether or not you're pro- or anti-parabens it's not just the ingredients that impress; the proof is in the polish and they really are a thing of beauty. With a striking golden lid and a huge range of colours available, from powdery pastels to bold brights and all that's in between, this is one brand I'll keep coming back to for unique shades and safety in (free-from) numbers.
£15.50, Buy online
This brand is about as natural as you'll get with nail polish (assuming you want it to stay on, that is). A quaint little brand made with organic colourants, water and purified resin, its ingredients list is short and sweet, which means it is of course free of the harmful four I've mentioned before. There are 80 shades to choose from as well as delightful 'Twins' which have two complementary colours joined by a single lid, and the polishes themselves are odour free; something I think we can all appreciate. What's more, the formula peels off - which goes against everything you feel is right in looking after your nails, I know, but actually works rather well and will please the most sensitive among us as it means no need for chemical-laden removers. Just watch it doesn't peel away before you're ready, though; top coats are needed here.
From £8.40, Buy online
"Soigne is rewriting the rules of eco nail polish," claims the brand's website, and that it is. A French brand which clearly embraces Parisan style, it defies all that we know of 'green' beauty (sorry folks but the packaging always leaves a lot to be desired) with a bottle that's elegant on the outside and a formula that's friendly on the inside. A fashion-forward ethos sees Soigne release a collection of three key colours every season, but this is sustainable fashion at its finest with 85% plant-sourced ingredients, a 5-free formula with no carcinogens and vegan credentials. With its perfect application and long-lasting colour it makes you ask why every brand can't do the same.
£11, Buy online
Despite the not-so-catchy name, this nail brand is one that's caught the attention of many a beauty editor including the Gloss team because of its high-end aesthetic and ever pleasing shades. Another 5-free formula, they contain no toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, camphor or phthalic acid, but as a nail addict I'm afraid my love for the brand is more shallow than that; the lid or 'handle' is expertly designed for comfort and the flexible brush is one of the best I've ever used for easy application. Sensitive-friendly and savvy.
From £16, Buy online
It's a gold star for this brand as Nailberry not only brings 5-free, fashionable colours to the market but also the hotly tipped and trendy oxygenated technology; meaning, dear sensitive friends, the formula allows air and moisture to pass through the polish so that nails are stronger and healthier. As someone who wouldn't be seen dead without a slick of polish on my fingers or toes this speaks to me; yellowing, unhealthy nails are not appealing (which then causes a vicious cycle as you attempt to cover them up with another coat) so breathable varnish can surely only be a good thing. It is, of course, another Parisian brand too; those French neighbours of ours aren't the home of the chic manicure for nothing.
£14.50, Buy online
January 22nd 2020
September 11th 2015