Are you being smart with nail polish?
From pink to yellow, glitter and clear, you can choose to express yourself in many ways through nail polish. But how is nail polish actually made, and is it safe for your nails?
There are a few main chemicals that are used in nail polish.
“While pigments give the nail polish its color, solvent extenders like alcohol, toluene and ethyl acetate keep the polish in liquid form and dissolves nail enamel,” says Sarah Kaldem, dermatology nurse practitioner at Aurora Medical Center – Burlington. “Additionally, resins like formaldehyde bond to the nail plate to make the nails stronger.”
However, these unique chemicals typically are not dangerous to the nail itself.
“Our nails are made from a substance called keratin, which is largely impenetrable and prevents nail polish from getting absorbed into our bodies,” says Kaldem. “Nail polishes are safe products.”
But, it’s important to remember to choose a well-ventilated spot when applying nail polish so that you avoid inhaling the chemicals as much as possible. While the nail polish itself is generally safe, you can still have an allergic reaction to the product.
“There are a number of potential ingredients that can cause an allergic reaction,” says Kaldem. “This typically presents as an itchy, swollen rash around the nail. It may even cause itchy fluid-filled bumps to form on the skin around the nail.”
She advises that if you are allergic to formaldehyde or other ingredients you should be careful to not purchase products containing those ingredients.
Kaldem shares the following insight on how to protect and heal your nails.
- Keep your cuticles healthy and intact. Never push back your cuticles or trim them. Cuticles are an important part of the nail structure to prevent infections.
- Apply petroleum jelly to your nails and cuticles nightly if they are scaly or dry. This will help rehydrate the skin.
- Never wear nail polish or artificial nails to cover up nail problems. Take breaks from nail polish and always examine your nails for discoloration or abnormalities when nails are free of polish.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.