Wearing colour on my nails is new for me. I’ve never been a fan of manicures. In the long list of beauty procedures in which I’m willing to invest my time and money, getting a manicure sits somewhere below facials (every month or two) and above getting my legs waxed (never).
This is partly down to the nasty chemicals in nail polish. (Think formaldehyde and toluene which have been linked to headaches and reproductive issues). It is also partly due to a lack of time and a complete inability to keep my nails chip-free for more than about six hours.
But after a hiatus, a new innovation has lured me back to the world of manicures: natural, “clean” polishes, which offer the promise of long-lasting, high-quality manicures without all the chemical additives.
Let’s be upfront. The natural nail polish industry can be confusing. Scientific jargon and eco-friendly claims are thrown around with carefree abandon, and although the words “non-toxic”, “free from” and “clean” seem positive, they actually mean very little.
If you want a healthier nail polish, look for the words “3-free”. This means they are made without the so-called ‘toxic trio’ (formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate). Or check the packaging to see whether these ingredients are included.
Good news: the newest natural nail polish brands are taking things a step further by creating ultra-safe, eco-friendly formulas that are 7-free, 9-free and even 10-free – all without compromising on colour, wearability and shine factor.
Here’s what that actually means:
3-Free – Free from formaldehyde (a carcinogenic chemical used to preserve specimens in labs), formaldehyde resin, toluene (a chemical that has been linked to headaches and kidney complications).
5-Free – Free from formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, camphor and dibutyl phthalate (a plasticiser that’s linked to developmental and reproductive issues).
7-Free – Free from formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, camphor, dibutyl phthalate, ethyl tosylamide and xylene.
10-Free – Free from Toluene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, parabens, animal by-products and fragrance.
And don’t forget your remover too…if you’ve gone to the effort to choose a clean polish it will be for nothing if you choose an acetone-based remover. Look for gentle formulas that are acetone-free or water based. Try: PAX Polish. Australian Made. Lux Clean & Green Nail Polish ♡
“Nail care should be just as considered as your skincare”, according to Emma Louise Paxton, a natural nail pioneer and the founder of clean polish brand Pax (available at Sephora). “It’s a widely known fact that you should check the label on anything you put on your body. The same goes for your nails too. Since they are so porous, your nails absorb any substance you put on them.”
While no nail polish is entirely natural or chemical free – they all contain synthetic chemicals – you have a choice now on how many of the above ingredients are absent. From sheer pinks to bold blues and rich autumn reds – here’s my pick of the best natural nail polishes:
Best Deep Red:
A timeless colour that goes with everything. The brush and elongated handle makes DIY application (even for beginners) a cinch.
Best long-lasting nude:
This handy at-home kit offers a gel-like finish without the chemicals – plus a chic colour range. I also loved the nourishing oil manucurist Huile Verte Cuticle Oil | MECCA to help keep your mani in tip-top shape.
Best winter navy:
Surprisingly versatile and adds a modern twist to autumnal wardrobes. The rounded brush makes application on the go extra easy.
Best high shine top coat:
A powerful topcoat (best applied every 2-3 days for extra mani wearability) with plant powdered strength.
Best Bright Red:
Bright. Bold and iconic – perfect for adding a burst of colour to winter wardrobes.
Mavala + Silicium Nail Colour in Sevila TANDEM | Mavala Switzerland
Sophisticated after-dark nails in a bottle.