Collaboration: Nail Health: What Does 5-Free Mean?

When it comes to our hair and nails, we often think of them as separate from skin because of the different care routines they go under. Believe it or not, your hair and nails are types of modified skin, and while the state of your skin and hair are strong indicators of your health, your nails can also provide some insight. As Kids Health reiterates, nails can provide info on a person’s general health, and illness tends to affect their growth.

There are plenty of things you can do to take care of your nails, such as trimming them regularly, never biting them or removing your cuticles, and allowing time between manis and pedis. However, we also have to be wary of the polishes we use, as the standard products contain chemicals that are known to have hazardous effects to our health. Much like skin and hair care brands that have gone all natural in their ingredients, nail brands are also paying attention to their production process to ensure no toxins are in their bottles. Nowadays, these nail brands are being marketed these days as 3-free and 5-free. As online beauty vlogger Roxette Arisa shares in a video on The Scene, Julep happens to be one of the companies which sell 5-free nail products. But what exactly are the polishes free from?

When a polish is 3-free, it’s free from…

… Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP). A known toxin, DBP is often used in plastics to make them flexible. This is especially dangerous for pregnant women, since there are strong connections between DBP and problems in reproduction and development growth.

… Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is commonly found in mainstream polishes, as well as eyelash glue and chemical hair straighteners. Studies have shown that this ingredient is a possible carcinogen, and what’s dangerous is that formaldehyde can take on various names, making it quite difficult to figure out which polishes contain it and which don’t.

… Toluene. The third ingredient in what Diamond Cosmetics calls the ‘Toxic Trio” is toluene. This other chemical – which is used on long-lasting, chip-free formulas – is also found in petroleum, paints and household products.

When a polish is 5-free, it’s free from the above, in addition to…

… Formaldehyde Resin/Tosylamide. This soft resin is often included to build stronger, shinier and more durable nails. Those who are sensitive to the ingredient may experience respiratory problems and skin outbreaks, according to Wise Geek.

… Camphor. Camphor gives polishes that shiny finish. However, its fumes are known to cause dizziness, headaches and nausea. There may also be some links to organ damage. Skin irritations and allergic reactions can happen when applied topically.

When it’s 7-free, it’s also free from…

… Ethyl Tosylamide. Those polishes that dry out in 60 seconds probably include this ingredient, and it’s currently being phased out in Europe, as there are concerns over its antibiotic resistance.

… Xylene. Prevention states that this solvent keeps your product from getting gloppy. It’s also an allergen and a possible carcinogen.

Anything above 7-free usually means they are free from parabens and fragrances, though the extra chemicals don’t pose as much of a threat as the ones listed above, or don’t contain enough of the ingredients to be considered hazardous.

This post is a result of collaborative efforts of mySkin and our guest blogger Abigail Owens.

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