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What is 5-Free Nail Polish and Why Should You be Using it?

All it takes is one whiff of nail polish to know that it’s not natural. There’s a reason our male counterparts can’t stand to hang around during our at-home manicures, and our nail techs wear masks. 


Within the last decade, health concerns were raised over the prolonged exposure to some of these unpleasant chemicals found in nail polishes. Companies began removing them from their formulas, starting with formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). Polishes without these were labeled as 3-Free. 

Other companies took it a step further, making their formulas 5-Free by pulling out formaldehyde resin and camphor.

Side Effects of the 5-Free Chemicals:
Formaldehyde: A very well-known human carcinogen.
Formaldehyde Resin: This is a derivative of the Formaldehyde listed above that isn’t as toxic, but is still an allergen. 
Toluene: Toxic to the nervous system, causes developmental damage to fetuses, causes nausea, dizziness, and unconsciousness. 
Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP): Banned in the European Union and listed as a suspected teratogen in California Prop 65, DBP is linked to cancer and birth defects. 
Camphor: Large doses can be poisonous, and cause irritation, nausea, dizziness, headaches, and seizures. 

Creepy, no? But don’t ditch all of your polishes just yet. You might already own some safer brands.

Companies that boast 5-Free Formulas:
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics
Deborah Lippmann
Kure Bazaar
Priti NYC
Scotch Naturals
Hopscotch Kids
Dashing Dica
Sheswai Lacquer
Usla Airlines
Mineral Fusion<

3-Free Companies
American Apparel, CND, Butter London, Essie, OPI, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Zoya, M.A.C., Nars, Hard Candy, Lancome, Estee Lauder

Always be sure to paint your nails in a well-ventilated area, and if you’re really worried, add a mask to your mani-essentials to minimize the chemicals you’re breathing in.

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