We hear so much about 5-free polish, 3-free polish, and natural polish, but what exactly is the difference and why is it important to avoid certain chemicals? To find out the answers to these questions and more I turned to Gabrielle Ophals, Owner of Eve Salon in New York City (my fave spot for a quickie mani/pedi – they’re fast and efficient, and the result always last a good week). Here’s everything you need to know next time you’re ready to do your nails!
What exactly is 5-free? 3-free? Why is it important to avoid these chemicals?
3-free means the nail polish is free of the “toxic trio:” formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, and toluene. 5-free means the nail polish is free of the following: formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, AS WELL AS THE allergens camphor and formaldehyde resin. It’s important to avoid these chemicals because:
Formaldehyde is a gas and is used as a hardening agent in nail polish. Immediate effects of exposure include skin/eye irritation and rash.
Dibutyl phthalate is a chemical used to increase the plasticity and flexibility of nail polish. Given the low toxicity and irritation, the risk of acute adverse effects for consumers exposed to DBP is low.
Toluene is used as a liquid thinner. Most nail salon customers are not exposed to excessive amounts of toluene. Adverse health effects include dry or cracked skin, or irritation.
Camphor is also used as a plasticizer in nail polish. Immediate side effects include skin irritation and light-headedness.
Formaldehyde resin is derived from formaldehyde and is used as a nail hardener. It’s less toxic than formaldehyde, but causes skin/eye irritation and even dermatitis in some cases.
What makes one polish last longer than another?
o Shellac lasts longer because of the UV light formula.
o Less expensive nail polish has low quality paint that will chip faster. They also have less consistent formulas, so bottles can differ from one another.
o Basically, better ingredients = longer lasting
Is there anything you can do during the manicure process to extend the wear of your polish?
o Swipe nails with vinegar before you begin to polish. This removes natural oils from nails to help nail polish adhere better.
o Apply a base coat.
o Avoid products with alcohol, like hand sanitizer. They dry out the nail and dissolve the top coat.