When kids see mummy paint her nails or return from the salon with a pretty manicure, often they want to get in on the action too.
You can see the appeal for them – painting nails is a bit of dress-up, a bit of art and craft, and a whole lot of colourful fun in general.
Problem is, many mainstream nail polish brands use chemicals that are…. controversial, to say the least, as they are associated with all kinds of negative effects on health. These range from temporary effects like headaches and dizziness to more severe issues like allergies, respiratory and reproductive problems, and even cancer.
While many adults consider these risks low (after all, most of us aren’t constantly exposed to these chemicals), the dangers are higher for kids as their small, developing bodies are more easily affected. Plus, many like to suck their fingers.
Non-Toxic Nail Polish
The good news is, it is possible for them to have their nail-decorating fun with minimal hazards. Some brands are specifically designed for kids and have water-based formulas that do away with toxic and harsh chemicals; other labels marketed at adults are free of the top three to 10 problematic chemicals in nail polish like toluene, formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, camphor, formaldehyde resin, xylene and acetone.
Here, we pick out some *non-toxic nail polish brands that are safe for kids.
*Note: there isn’t a fixed industry definition or guideline as to what counts as “non-toxic”. Some brands are free of the three main chemical nasties (also called three-free) commonly used in nail polish, some go further and remove five, seven or even 10 of them. Customers have to decide which level of non-toxicity is acceptable for them.
Founded in 2008 by a mother of two girls who wanted a safer alternative to conventional nail polish, Piggy Paint aims to be ethical and eco-minded. It’s free of all harsh chemicals, cruelty-free and vegan. Containing just water, acrylate polymers, neem oil (known to be moisturising and antimicrobial) and colourants, the nail polishes are almost odourless and dry to a hard finish that lasts. You do need polish remover to take them off, but the brand has a low-odour, acetone-free remover made of corn alcohol, aloe vera extract, vitamin E and an embittering agent.
Among the early trailblazers of non-toxic nail polish, Canadian brand Suncoat Girl was founded in 2002 by a chemist whose seven-year-old daughter wanted to experiment with nail colours. The water-based products are free of all unsafe chemicals like toluene, formaldehyde, phthalate plasticisers, acetates and alcohol, though they may contain inert plastic glitter, carmine and polyurethane (plastic). They’re highly rated too, having gathered awards from Green Parents magazine in the UK and Family Choice Awards in the US. To remove, you simply soak nails in warm water for a few minutes and peel off the polish.
Made in France and dermatologically tested, these water-based nail polishes are free from phthalates, formaldehyde, toluene and fragrance. They’re also free of nanoparticles and come in a range of age-appropriate glitter and rainbow colours – no sexy reds or goth black. You can remove it with soap and warm water, or scrub it off in the bath.
Snails washable nail polishes are made in France and contained in lead-free bottles imported from Italy. The lacquers are said to be 12-free and do not use any toxic ingredients whatsoever. Instead, they are made from a mix of water, acrylic polymer and harmless colourants. They wash off with soap and water, and animal lovers will be glad to know they don’t test on animals.
Not only are these lacquers free of the most common toxic nail polish ingredients, they’re also vegan, PETA certified cruelty-free, paraben-free, gluten-free and non-GMO. This means they’re safe for kids and good for those with sensitivities. Because these water-based polishes don’t use the usual toxic solvents, you have to remove them with rubbing alcohol, grain alcohol like vodka or the brand’s own nail polish remover.
For mummies who want to share their nail polish with their little girls. Founded in 2005 to provide fun colours in safe formulas, Butter London’s nail polishes went from being three-free to now 10-free. They’re also cruelty-free and the Patent Shine 10X range is vegan. In addition, Butter London nail polishes contain various nailcare ingredients like silica-rich bamboo extract to prevent breakage and diamond powder to brighten the look of nails.