How to Read Cosmetic Ingredient Labels XXXVIV

Best. Top. Coat. Ever?  You’ve heard rave reviews about this product and given that your New Year’s Resolution is to do your nails more, you have finally decided to try it!  You know that certain ingredients are to be avoided in nail polish, but really want to try the product and don’t remember the ingredients to avoid anyway so you make your purchase.  As you paint your nails and smell the fumes you start to wonder if any of the ingredients may in fact be harmful. Remember, I am teaching you Label Poise–how to walk the walk, talk the talk, and buy products that meet YOUR standards, whether natural, organic, or safe enough.  For instructions on Label Poise visit our Label Poise page.

The Label


The Ingredients

Butyl Acetate:  Beware! This ingredient is an organic compound commonly used as a solvent in paints and lacquers. Though it is naturally found in various fruits providing flavor, it is chemically produced through the esterification of butanol. This ingredient can be hazardous to skin, eyes, and lungs, with repeated exposure (in large amounts) resulting in damage to the lungs, central nervous system, and mucous membranes. Butyl Acetate is not known to be carcinogenic. (MSDS)

Toluene:  Beware!/Avoid! Toluene, also known as methylbenzene, is commonly used as a solvent in nail polish. This chemical is extremely volatile (it likes to vaporize and mix with air) and its primary toxicological impact is through inhalation. Inhalation of toluene can cause dizziness, nausea, or even death at high doses. Toluene is a skin and eye irritant and is hazardous if ingested or inhaled. It is not classified as a carcinogen in humans, though it can be toxic to the blood, kidneys, nervous system, liver, brain, and central nervous system with repeated or prolonged exposure in pure form. Toluene can be absorbed by the skin and is a suspected mutagen and teratogen. (MSDS; MSDS)

Cellulose Acetate Butyrate:  Beware! This ingredient is a plastic material that is resistant to ultraviolet rays, and provides a strong, transparent, high shine gloss finish. This ingredient gives this product the high shine and increased durability and wear time of nail polish. Cellulose Acetate Butyrate can be a skin, eye, lung, and digestive tract irritant. It is not known to be a carcinogen, though information on teratogenicity, mutagenicity, neurotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity are not known. (MSDS; MSDS)

Isopropyl Alcohol:  Beware!  This is a drying alcohol (unlike fatty alcohols). Isopropyl Alcohol is a solvent, and if the name sounds familiar it is because it is commonly sold as rubbing alcohol. I am not sure what purpose this ingredient serves in this product, supposedly to assist in spreading the product. Isopropyl Alcohol in hair products is supposedly very drying, which is ironic considering how this product is marketed. This ingredient typically is not toxic.

Trimethyl Pentanyl Diisobutyrate:  Beware!  This ingredient is used as a plasticizer to improve pliability and decrease brittleness in synthetic polymers. It is not known to be a carcinogen, or eye irritant in rabbits, though limited toxicological information is available. (MSDS; MSDS))

Butoxyethanol:  Beware!/Avoid!  This ingredient is a butyl ether of ethylene glycol and it is used as an industrial solvent. This ingredient is an irritant to eyes and lungs, and is a slight irritant to skin. Butoxyethanol is able to permeate the skin. Butoxyethanol is not known to be carcinogenic, though it can be toxic to blood, kidneys, liver, and central nervous system with repeated or prolonged exposure in pure form. Butoxyehtanol is a reproductive toxin, tumorigenic, teratogen in animal studies. (MSDS)

Dimethicone:  Beware!  Dimethicone is a synthetic chemical polymer siloxane derived from silica.   They are used as a skin conditioning agent and form a protective barrier on the skin that prevents moisture from leaving or entering, which can be harmful to skin.  Dimethicone is the 5th ingredient in this product indicating its (quantity) in the formula.   (MSDS)

Benzophenone-1:  Beware!  This ingredient is an organic compound used to a ultraviolet (UV) radiation blocker and is typically used in nail polish. This ingredient can be an irritant to skin, eyes, and lungs; and can be a sensitizer to skin. It is now known to be a carcinogen; other toxicological information is limited. (MSDS)



Nature’s Pulchritude’s Verdict:  The biggest concerns in this product are toluene and butoxyethanol, both of which have the potential to be toxic.  The box and bottle contain a warning that ingredients in the product are known to be toxic in California (which is written in French on the box).  The qualities of exposure from nail polish are fairly low though a toxiciological response from chronic exposure is possible, though unlikely.  It is very important to never inhale nail polish fumes and to only apply nail polish in a well ventilated area.  This is a judgement call.  Based on ingredients alone, you may choose to skip this product or take the necessary precautions to limit your exposure and use this product anyway.

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