This Not That: Natural Nail Polish

With the advent of the green revolution, many of us have made changes to reduce our environmental impact and live a healthier, more natural life. I, personally, have switched to as much organic food as possible, and opted for natural house cleaners. However, I never considered the health and environmental impacts of many of my beauty products. In my mind, those were somehow off limits or non-negotiable. I could talk all day about quinoa and kale, but conveniently ignored the little vials lining my vanity cabinet.

However, I began to discover some startling facts about nail polish in particular. Most polishes are solvent-based, which means they contain specific chemicals that produce their trademark colorful sheen. These chemicals are easily absorbed through the nail bed. Three more ingredients in particular have received more attention as well: formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, and toluene. These ingredients help nail polish harden and prevent chipping, yet they are also associated with health effects such as developmental problems and skin irritation. Formaldehyde is even a carcinogen, which means it has been linked to cancer.

Giving up nail polish didn’t seem like much fun, but I soon discovered that there are plenty of more natural nail polishes available. We reviewed two natural nail polish brands. Both are sold at Whole Foods, and both definitely cost more than the $1 nail polish you picked up at the drugstore last week. That being said, these brands are free of those toxic three chemicals I mentioned earlier. While they may not be perfectly chemical free, they provide a safer alternative for our bodies and the environment. You can check out the safety rating of your nail polish and other beauty products at the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep cosmetics rating site. They rate cosmetics on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being very safe and 10 being very toxic. Here are our picks:

Bite Size Wellness Natural Nail Polish Honey Bee Gardens Water Colors.jpg

Honeybee Gardens Nail Enamel is water-based. This essentially means that they use water rather than chemicals to cohere the polish. Plus, Honeybee Gardens has an EWG rating of 1, which means it is very safe and largely chemical-free.


  • Odorless, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly.
  • Rubbing alcohol removes the polish, so you don’t have to worry about the chemicals found in nail polish removers either.
  • 25 different shades, including black, blue, and bronze besides more traditional shades such as pink and red.


  • Water-based nail polishes do take longer to dry than solvent-based polishes. Although it is water-resistant after 15 minutes, and chemical-resistant after an hour, it takes 4 to 6 hours to actually dry completely. Honeybee Gardens recommends that users paint their nails before bed and allow them to dry overnight.
  • After one week, the water in the polish evaporates, so the polish needs to be taken off by this point or the color will become very difficult to remove.
  • It costs $12.99, which is a high price to pay for a small bottle of polish.

Bite Size Wellness Natural Nail Polish Mineral Fusion

Mineral Fusion Nail Polishis mineral-based, and is also camphor free, fragrance free, vegetarian,and hypoallergenic.


  • Chip resistant and available in 61 colors
  • Mineral Fusion utilizes wind power, composes packaging from recycled materials, and uses soy ink. They have also partnered with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to raise awareness for women harmed by domestic violence.
  • Costs $7.99, five dollars cheaper than Honeybee Gardens


  • EWG has not yet rated Mineral Fusion’s Nail Polish, yet their other products received ratings from 1-7 on the safety scale. Therefore, their nail polish could be very safe or very harmful.
  • It still contains chemicals such as butyl acetate, isopropyl alcohol, and styrene compounds, which are all skin or eye irritants.


The Verdict: If you are searching for a polish that is as chemical free as possible, choose Honeybee Gardens – just follow their instructions for use or you may have trouble getting the polish to wear as it should. However, if you’re on a budget, or want more color variety, go with Mineral Fusion Nail Polish.

How important is natural ingredients in nail polish to you?


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