Five Chemicals in Nail Polish to Avoid

When it comes to doing something as simple as painting your nails, your first thought isn’t whether or not you could be doing harm to yourself. But the reality is that the chemicals in nail polish are harmful to everyone who uses them, especially those who are repeatedly exposed to them. To keep yourself and those around you safe, choose polishes that are not made with the following five chemicals: dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, and camphor.

Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)

DBP is used in nail polish to minimize chipping. Classified as endocrine disruptors, phthalates disrupt and mimic estrogen. DBP’s are proven to impair the hormonal development of male fetuses, cause organ damage and lead to early-onset menopause.

Though there has never been DBP testing done on humans, animal testing has shown that DBP decreases fertility, causes hormonal disruption, bioaccumulation, and liver damage. The European Union banned DBP in cosmetic and personal care products, and the Australian government currently classifies DBP as a risk to the human reproductive system. Although the United States government does not classify DBP as a reproductive and hormonal toxicant, the state of California does.


Toluene is a chemical ingredient that makes nail polish have a smooth application and finish. It is found in most nail polish removers. Toluene fumes are highly toxic and studies have shown that exposure to toluene can cause neurological damage, decreased brain function, impaired breathing, hearing loss, and nausea. If inhaled too frequently by pregnant women, impaired fetal development may occur. Testing on animals has also shown that that toluene is linked to reproductive impairment, immune system toxicity, and blood cancers like malignant lymphoma.

The European Union has banned the use of toluene in personal care products, including nail polish. In California, toluene is on the state’s Prop 65 list of chemicals that are harmful to fetal development.


Formaldehyde is the chemical in nail polish that hardens and strengthens it. It also preservative that protects against bacterial growth. Formaldehyde is naturally produced by the body in incredibly small amounts and at a low level, is not dangerous. But, exposure to large quantities of formaldehyde can cause throat, nose,and blood cancer.


Nail salon workers and their children are especially at risk for chronic health problems caused by formaldehyde, including asthma, convulsions, nausea, and miscarriages. Repeated exposure can cause a build-up of fluid in the lungs and cause abnormal fetal development in pregnant women. The European Union allows only limited use of formaldehyde in personal care products, while Japan and Sweden have banned it completely.

Formaldehyde Resin

Formaldehyde resin is a by-product of formaldehyde and can be found in nail polishes that also have formaldehyde.Studies have found that formaldehyde resin can cause severe skin irritation, allergic reactions, skin de-pigmentation and loss of nerve sensation.


Camphor is the ingredient in nail polish that gives it its glossy, shiny appearance. Camphor is not as toxic as the other four ingredients mentioned, and can sometimes be found in vapor rubs or nasal sprays.

However, the safety of camphor has recently been called into question. It has been shown to trigger severe skin irritation and allergic reactions when applied topically, and inhaling its fumes can cause nausea, dizziness, and headaches. Observational studies have also linked camphor exposure to organ damage, such as liver dysfunction. Camphor in personal care products is limited to a concentration of 11% in the US, and it is being phased out in markets within the European Union.

Choosing a Safe Nail Polish

If you do want your nails painted, look for a brand that is at least free of DBP, formaldehyde, and toluene but aim for one free of all the five hazardous chemicals. Nail polish brands such as Zoya, RGB, LaCC, Ella + Mila, Priti NYC and Kure Bazaar are all brands that formulas are free of all the five above mentioned chemicals.



Three More Ways to Relieve Holiday Stress

‘Tis the season once again! The holidays can be a joyful time, offering a chance to reconnect with friends and family, but they can also be stressful. The hustle and bustle of the season can be hectic and the pressure to buy and give gifts can be worrisome for some. In order to maneuver through this holiday season stress free, consider the following to help alleviate any holiday induced stress. Last year, we discussed Three Ways to Relieve Holiday Stress, so here are three more!

Make a Plan

Create a budget so you know your spending limit, and then stick to it. Lack of money is one of the biggest causes of stress during the holiday season. Making sure you adhere to your budget can help relieve the stress that comes along with overspending.This year, set a budget and don’t spend more than what you have planned.

Get organized by marking lists or using an appointment book to keep track of your to-dos and upcoming holiday events. It’s okay to decline an invitation to a holiday event that isn’t particularly important to you. Learning to say “no” will give you more time to say “yes” to the events that you do want to attend. It will also give you more time to complete the things you want or need to get done.

Continue To Gift Thoughtfully

You can offset the guilt of not wanting to overspend by giving something personal. You can show love and caring with any gift that is meaningful and personal and that will be worth more than a pricey gift from a big-box retailer.

You can kill two birds with one stone by searching for thoughtful gifts online at This will also offset the stress that comes with shopping at an overcrowded mall during the holiday season. If you like the idea of a brick-and-mortar store, however, shop local. Most local stores have more unique, one-of-a-kind and personalized items that may not be carried by larger retailers.

Treat Yourself

Even though the holidays is a time based around giving rather than receiving, don’t forget that you deserve a little something too. This doesn’t necessarily need to come in a form of a new handbag or expensive luxury item- it can be something as simple as taking a little bit of time to set aside for yourself. This time can come in many forms such as going for a short walk, setting aside some time in the morning before you start your day, listening to some music or soaking in a nice warm bath. If you plan on giving yourself a little TLC in the form of self-care we suggest you indulge your skin with our Healthy Skin Spa Box. You could even buy two – one for you and one for a friend!

Taking care of yourself will help you deal with stressful situations during the holidays. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings and maintain a regular sleep, mealtime, and exercise schedule. But most of all, remember to embrace the season!

The K-Beauty Craze

Although it’s been around for years, the hype that has been sparked by K-Beauty (Korean Beauty) seems as if it’s emerged overnight. Major beauty publications such as Refinery29, Bustle and Allure are all upping the hype and telling people that K-Beauty is here to stay.

What is K-Beauty?

K-Beauty is the umbrella term for all South Korean imports in the skin care, makeup and bath-and-body categories that has been sending U.S. beauty enthusiasts into a tizzy. Within the last 18 months, K-Beauty has become some kind of mega-sensation in America, due to its claims of being natural and effective, but also coming in pastel-colored packages, cute shaped bottles like pandas, cats, peeled bananas or eggs.

What K-Beauty Entails

A typical K-Beauty regime calls for incorporating up to 10 (sometimes more) steps into your morning and evening beauty routines. This regime begins with a “dual cleansing” step in which oil and water-based products are recommended, a series of sheet masks, essences, serums and rich moisturizers. After your morning regime, K-Beauty suggests applying SPF 35+, where at night the alternative is a hydrating sleep mask.

New York based dermatologist Dennis Gross, is a fan of this overly through multi step regime. Gross believes that “there’s a positive in having a beauty regime that goes beyond the basics and addresses issues such as fine lines, pores, and uneven skin tone.” Gross who doesn’t necessarily prescribe 10-step routines for his patients, still believes that a  “customized skin-care routine“ makes good sense from a skin-biology standpoint.

Where To Start

Although a K-Beauty regime calls for a “10-step” routine, this isn’t a rule. If it were, it’s one that can be broken. To simplify your routine, find products that multi-task. For instance, our “Awaken” Body Smooth Sugar is a natural and gentle exfoliating organic scrub. It is made with organic sugar, coconut and apricot kernel oils and glycerin and Vitamin E to nourish and protect the skin. Since it’s a gentle exfoliator, it can be used on face and body, but only recommended for to be used on your face 2-3 times a week or as needed.

For cleansing and cleansing pores, the Activated Charcoal Botanical Bar Soap is another great option. The shea and cocoa butter bar soap contains pure activated charcoal, which is known for its ability to draw impurities and excess oil from the skin and hair. This soap is great for oily skin, or for anyone who is looking for a deep cleanse.

The Best Of K-Beauty

Soko Glam is an online marketplace that specializes in K-Beauty products and has a page on their site which is dedicated to all the best of K-Beauty products. Consider their list the ultimate starter-pack to building your K-Beauty product arsenal.

Should You Use A Toner?

If you find yourself wondering if you should add a toner to your skincare routine, know that the answer to your question is not a direct “yes” or “no”. Although toners have been typically for oily skin types that need an extra cleansing boost, many of them are now packed with extra skincare benefits, like hydrating and soothing properties. Different toners have different benefits and these benefits depends on your skin type and the type of toner that you use.

Dr. Alicia Zalka, a Yale-affiliated dermatologists states that “toners are not necessary, but they can be a great adjunct to a skincare regimen for those that need help with oily skin or markedly plugged pores.Toner is something I consider a second step of the cleansing process. The benefit is that, when used correctly, it can help remove excess oils and dead skin cells that may lurk on the face after washing. To some extent a toner can help other skin applications penetrate more rapidly.”  

What do toners do?

A toner’s purpose is to do a complete cleanse of the skin and refine pores. Toners remove dust, pollution and impurities that can still linger on the skin after washing with a cleanser. Toners were originally designed to help restore skin’s pH balance, which is slightly acidic (5.5-6.5). Old styles of cleansing (cleansers like soap bars) disrupted that balance, leaving skin more vulnerable to bacteria and other microorganisms. The disruption to skin pH can lead to inflammation, dryness and over time, accelerated aging. If you wash your face with a balanced, organic cleanser, your skin might not need the pH-balancing properties of toners.

Should I forget about toner?

If you have oily skin, a toner might be a beneficial addition to your skincare routine. Many toners targeted at reducing oil and clogged pores. If you have normal, dry or combination skin, the right toner will have ingredients that create a number of benefits, giving you a quick and refreshing lift that helps repair, restore, and renew your skin. For all these reasons and more, it is recommended you make toning the second step in your skincare routine after cleansing.

Natural DIY Toners

The good news is you can make your own natural toner at home. The following are ingredients on how to make your own toner best suited for your skin type and concerns.

A green-tea toner is a great option if you have normal skin. First make one cup of green tea. Then add half a teaspoon of honey and mix well. Let the mixture cool. Once cool, add three drops of jasmine essential oil to the mixture. Pour into an airtight bottle and store in a cool place.

If you have normal to oily skin the following toners are more efficient. To make an apple-cider vinegar toner add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to an airtight container and mix in 200 milliliters of mineral water. Store in a cool place.

For a Mint Toner, boil 6 cups of water and add a couple of mint leaves to the water while it is still hot. Allow the solution to cool and then saturate the pad with the solution and wipe your face with it after cleansing.

An Aloe Vera Toner can be made by slicing an aloe vera. Scoop out the gel and dilute 2 tablespoons of the gel with 1 cup of cool water. Apply the solution onto your face using a cotton pad after cleansing. This solution can also be used to sooth sunburns and rashes.

Make a Cucumber Toner by taking 2/3rds of a fresh cucumber and chopping it up into small piece. Pour a cup of water into a pan and add the chopped piece of cucumber. Heat the pan for about 8 minutes or until the water starts to boil. Blend the cucumber and the water. Let cool and then filter the solution out using a sieve. Apply to clean face using a cotton pad.

Ingredients To Avoid

When it comes to choosing a toner that’s right for you, there are some ingredients you want to avoid. Do not use a toner that has alcohol, menthol, witch hazel or fragrance in it. These four ingredients are not good for your skin. If you do choose to add a toner to your skincare routine and you choose your toner carefully, you’ll have a product that will do the following: complete cleansing, minimize the appearance of large pores, hydrate, help with oily skin and protect.