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Decreasing exposure to toxins while pregnant is a great way to have as healthy of a pregnancy as possible. Let’s discuss nail polish when pregnant.
The questions surrounding nail polish in pregnancy stem from lessening exposure to and avoiding toxins during pregnancy. Of course, we interact with toxins every day, many of which are out of our control (like air pollution), but there are some that are directly within our control. One within our control is nail polish. Here you’ll find out if nail polish is safe when pregnant and what pregnancy safe nail polish is about.
While searching pregnancy safe nail polish you’ll find terms like “3-free nail polish,” “5-free nail polish” and so on. These came about from consumer awareness of nail polish toxins. Some companies began to produce polishes that were free of the chemicals known as toxins, then as more information became available and more chemicals were categorized as toxic, these companies began to ban those ingredients as well. The problem is that when chemicals are replaced, they are commonly replaced with a “sister” that has a different name but is toxic as well. If you want to read more, you can see this article in Time. To see a list of toxin-mindful nail polish brands, click here.
What is Toxic about Nail Polish?
There are multiple toxins in nail polish but the concentration of this article is a toxin called phthalates. “Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl.” So we actually encounter phthalates in many products like shower curtains, tubberware, vinyl flooring, wall paper, adhesives, raincoats, cosmetics and more! Crazy, right! And phthalates can be absorbed by inhaling, eating or touching.
Why are Phthalates Allowed if They’re Toxic?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the governing agency that approves what we are allowed to consume. Take a look at what they say about phthalates in cosmetics.
“Under the law, cosmetic products and ingredients, with the exception of color additives, are not subject to FDA approval before they go on the market. [The] FDA can take action against unsafe cosmetics that are on the market, but only if we have dependable scientific evidence showing that a product or ingredient is unsafe for consumers…At the present time, FDA does not have evidence that phthalates as used in cosmetics pose a safety risk.” “Under the authority of the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA), FDA requires an ingredient declaration on cosmetic products sold at the retail level to consumers. Consumers can tell whether some products contain phthalates by reading the ingredient declaration on the labels of such products. However, the regulations do not require the listing of the individual fragrance ingredients; therefore, the consumer will not be able to determine from the ingredient declaration if phthalates are present in a fragrance. Also, because the FPLA does not apply to products used exclusively by professionals–for example, in salons–the requirement for an ingredient declaration does not apply to these products.”
So, cosmetic companies can produce any (toxic) product and sell it without governing approval, and before the FDA can restrict the selling of any product, research (however long it may take) must conclude that the product is unsafe for consumption.
This may not seem like a big deal when one product has .01% (for example), but when your exposure to phthalates in everyday products amounts to 10% (for example), that’s a BIG difference.
What are the Effects of Toxins in Nail Polish?
Phthalates are known to affect your hormones, particularly testosterone, which you have even though you are female. But it’s of even more importance if you’re having a baby boy because studies suggest genital abnormalities in males are related to prenatal exposure to phthalates.
Also, phthalates are said to significantly increase the odds of preterm delivery and are associated with intellectual deficits at age 7 as this study concluded.
Should You Use Nail Polish while Pregnant?
Considering the many daily products we use with phthalates and the three ways we internalize them, it’s in our best interest to limit exposure when and where we can.
The information on this page was sourced from Lily Nichols’ book Real Food for Pregnancy, although the data is linked to original scientific research. You can purchase Real Food for Pregnancy by tapping the picture below if you’d like to know more about toxins in pregnancy. Additionally, as a free resource, visit the Pregnancy Nutrition page and scroll down to Toxins in Pregnancy.