Many things are said about nail polishes; however, some are false or partially true. Are nail polishes made of harmful chemical products? Can nail polishes be 100% made of natural products? How about nail polish for children? In order to clarify possible misunderstands these are some of the myths used to mislead consumers. It was not until the early twentieth century, after accruals and evolution, that nail polish was invented as we know it today. In the 1920s, French make-up expert Michelle Ménard adopted car paintings for cosmetic uses and in 1932 big US companies redesigned the formula for commercial purposes. Amidst Hollywood furor and top models’ fashion, nail polishes became popular as part of the feminine aesthetic. Some years later, in the 21st century, this fashion has also gained acceptance among male users. We should not find it estrange that behind a long-established and fascinating story, many myths still persist, and new ones could have been be created around nail polish. Moreover, bear in mind this history involves, only in Colombia, large amounts of money counted by thousands of millions. Therefore, it is worth wondering what could be false and what could be true when we talk about nail polishes.
  1. Are all chemical products harmful for you? False! There are worldwide organizations who have the responsibility to find out and regulate the use (and prohibition) of chemical ingredients within the cosmetic industry. By doing so, they aim to protect users’ health while creating high quality final products. Some of the best-known organizations of this kind are the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the US and the European Cosmetic and Perfumery Association, COLIPA. Thanks to their intervention, the use of products such as: toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resins, camphor and dibutylphthalate amongst others, have been forbidden due to their toxicity and the risk of causing cancer.
  2. Is it possible to have organic natural chemical-free nail polishes? False. So far, the answer is a resounding no. However natural products take part in the process of making nail polishes, with the current technology, it is still not possible to produce nail polishes without the intervention of chemical supplies. Some attributes such as: duration, brightness, colour, require the use of film forming agents, solvents and liquid pigments amongst other chemical products.
  3. How about nail polishes for children or people with special medical conditions? It is still possible to find water based and toxic-free options for children and people who, due to health restrictions, cannot be in contact with these products. However, it is relevant to highlight that any element, whether natural or synthetic, can be harmless (or not) depending on the amount used. The above-mentioned organizations have made a careful work on assessing the levels after which both natural and synthetized ingredients could be harmful for human health.
  4. Are chemical-free better-quality nail polishes? partially true. When different brands declare in the components of their products that certain chemical elements are not part of the ingredients (X-FREE), this may not necessarily improve the quality of the nail polish in terms of duration, brightness and dry out. When a company says in their products labels, they are free of toxic components, this means they used to be part of the frequent ingredients but were substituted to reduce health risks.
If there is any doubt, the best way is to review the ingredients, benefits and risks based on informed criteria. True! We have now better access to information (internet, friends, influencers, etc.). However, this information should be verified. Consumers have the right to know what the ingredients of their favorite brand and the benefits are. Even though there are not 100% natural products, users are entitled to decide, according to the information they can gather and their own criteria, the type of product they want to acquire. False promises or vague information on the product should be questioned. Confidence is only gained if one has access to a full description on the components and the benefits are verified. Information is power!

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