Nail Products Dekalb IL
Sugar Grove, IL
Natural Beauty—Treat Your Nails Right
By Melanie Haiken
Until recently, my sister Beth and I used to meet every few weeks for a Saturday morning pedicure. We chose a salon with several stations so we could sit side by side and pass magazines and nail colors back and forth while our feet were being pampered. And we caught up on the kids and work that keep us so busy the rest of the time. But eventually the fumes that gave me a headache almost every time I visited, and the face masks of our otherwise friendly manicurists, became too hard to ignore.
My curiosity—and concern—got the better of me: What’s in nail polish that smells so bad, anyway? Is it possible that painting my nails actually puts my health at risk? Must I consider giving up one of my few indulgences?
What I found out certainly made my Saturday sprees seem a lot less carefree. Most conventional nail polishes contain harsh chemicals, such as toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutylphthalate. Some women are out-and-out allergic to the formaldehyde, but even women who can tolerate it might not want to, experts say, because the other chemicals aren’t so great either. “These are potent solvents,” says Alan Dattner, a dermatologist in New York City. “When you breathe in acetone, for example, you’re taking a direct hit of something that can dissolve the lipids in the cell membranes of your brain.”
Admittedly, it’s in large doses that these chemicals cause the most trouble. But formaldehyde is a probable carcinogen, according to the National Cancer Institute, and dibutylphthalate and very high levels of toluene have been linked in several studies to serious health problems, including birth defects and nerve damage.
Breathing in large amounts of these fumes over time can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and respiratory distress. For those who aren’t sensitive to chemicals, a manicure in a well-ventilated area is probably fine. Still, nail polish is considered enough of a hazard that most airlines no longer allow women to paint their nails while on board, and salon workers are taking precautions, too.
But here’s the most surprising part of the story about nail products: They don’t do much for the health of your nails either. I wage a constant battle against cracking, peeling, and splitting nails. Sometimes the top layer is so rough and ridged that I have to keep a clear coat of polish on them just to keep the top layer from peeling off.
It turns out that’s part of the problem.While the formaldehyde in nail polish temporarily hardens nails, it also dehydrates them so they split more easily. In other words, regular use of nail polish containing formaldehyde can create the brittle, chipped nail surfaces that many women use polish to cover. Another offender is chemical acetone, the primary ingredient traditionally used in many nail polish removers. “Acetone is incredibly drying,” says Bruce Katz, a dermatologist and director of the JUVA skin and laser center in New York. “What it does is lift the oils right out of the nail...
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