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The mani-pedi game is changing – and with good reason.

Since I feel super weird without nail polish on, you can always find me with my nails painted. It may be chipping and peeling off at times (lol), but that’s beside the point. You guys always ask about the nail polish in my Instagram pics, so I figured it was time to share the deets on ‘Better For You Nail Polishes.’ They do exist and are worth exploring. 

If you’re at all concerned about the ingredients in your beauty products, you may want to consider nail polish as well. There’s a new wave of non-toxic polishes that are amazing and SO worth supporting. If you haven’t yet heard of the “5-Free” nail polishes, then I’m glad you’re reading this because awareness is key and now you can make a “greener” choice.


The 5-Free brands have removed formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, camphor and formaldehyde resin — all potentially dangerous carcinogens and allergens that could do everything from disrupting your endocrine system to cause cancer. Have no fear ladies – removing these toxic ingredients does not skimp on the quality, performance, creativity or color.

Time to uncover the sketchy ingredients which come with all sorts of warnings, after a little research. Why even risk it? Better safe than sorry, no?

The “Toxic Trio”

1. Formaldehyde

Yep… that stuff they use to preserve and embalm dead bodies…. a commonly used chemical with irritating vapors that can trigger asthma. A known human carcinogen, meaning it’s directly related to causing cancer. Used as a nail-hardening agent and sterilizer for nail tools.

2. Toluene

Commonly used liquid solvent with the familiar smell of paint thinner to dissolve or combine chemicals. An additive in gasoline that creates a smooth finish across the nail and prevents pigment separation in the bottle.

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We are exposed by breathing it in or getting it on our skin which can cause irritation. Inhaling toluene can affect the nervous system and cause reproductive harm, let alone light-headedness and nausea.

3. Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)

A plasticizer added for flexibility and fluidity (used to make plastics malleable) and is what your shower curtain is made out of and has been banned from children’s toys. DBP has been connected to cancer and birth defects in lab animal studies.


This toxin was added to the California Proposition 65 list of suspected teratogens, which are agents that cause malformations of an embryo (um no thank you).

Extra Chemicals

Formaldehyde Resin: A derivative of Formaldehyde, a polymer used as a nail hardener. Mainly for coatings and adhesives

Camphor: A waxy, highly flammable poison that adheres and acts as a cover on your nails. Causes that yellow staining by depriving them of nutrients. Can cause seizures and disorientation if used in large doses.


With all that being said, you probably want to know options and what’s available. You may be surprised to find some of your favorite brands have already made the switch to 5-Free!


The polishes in these pictures are some of my favorite brands so far, but I’ve listed out a bunch of 5-Free polishes below, along with my nail routine!

Favorite 5-Free Polishes


My Mani-Pedi Routine

  1. Before applying polish, I make sure to moisturize and soften my cuticles for a few minutes with oil, Cocokind Serum in particular. I know it says “facial serum” but it’s a mixture of coconut oil and avocado oil, which I can’t put on my already semi-oily face, so I use it on my hands and nails instead!
  2. Then I push back my cuticles with this tool and remove the oil with the Zoya Remove Plus Nail Polish Remover 32 oz. You want to make sure nails are clean so the polish adheres right.
  3. Next, I apply the Zoya Naked Manicure Naked Base to create a better base for the polish. The Naked Base is “a nutrient-rich formula that refines the nail surface and treats damage with a blend of vitamins, proteins, botanicals and sulfur amino acids that mimic the natural structure of the nail. Supports cellular renewal, oxygenation and hydration improving strength and polish adhesion.”
  4. Let that dry and pick out your favorite polish! Do two coats, then finish with a quality top coat (like this one).

“5-Free” Nail Polish Brands

I wanted to point out that Ella + Mila (and some others listed above) have gone one step further by claiming to be “7-Free” (read more here) I’m going to get some of their adorable polishes ASAP! 

Hope you find this helpful. What are your favorite brands?!

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