A few smaller nail polish brands inaccurately declared that their polishes are free of toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and formaldehyde, according to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) report entitled, “Summary of Data and Findings from Testing of a Limited Number of Nail Products”. The study, released today, was initiated by the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative (CHNSC), a non-government special interest group.
The DTSC’s Karl Palmer said, “We are calling for nail polish manufacturers to be more honest about what ingredients are in their products so people who are purchasing these products can make more informed decisions.”
Investigators from the DTSC chose 25 professional nail products at random and tested them for the chemicals. Out of the 25, 12 of the products claimed to be free from at least one of the toxic trio. Of those 12, 10 contained traceable amounts of toluene. Seven of the products that claimed to be three-free were found to contain one or more of the ingredients it claimed to be free of.
According to the Professional Beauty Association (PBA), what the DTSC report fails to mention is that all of the reported findings of chemicals in the products tested are significantly below the levels found to be safe by the United States Food & Drug Administration (USFDA) and the Expert Panel of the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR).
The report also fails to mention that most of the offending products were off-label brands that hold little market share in the professional beauty industry.
“NMC condemns any manufacturer misleading customers about the ingredients in their products,” stated Myra Irizarry, PBA’s director of government affairs. “The public should, however, be aware that nearly the entire nail polish industry voluntarily took steps years ago to remove toluene and DBP from their products.”
Doug Schoon, president of Schoon Scientific, a leader in product development and regulatory consulting, points out what he sees as lack of perspective and balance in the report: “We are troubled that the DTSC has evidently chosen to work closely with certain special interest groups in this report, while deliberately avoiding the input of industry experts and manufacturers.”
“The most relevant health-related concerns in nail salons are not ingredients, but ventilation, sanitation, education, and work practices. NMC members have worked hard not only to re-formulate their products, but to reach out and educate nail technicians and consumers, in many languages, about best practices.”
In case you get calls from the news media or from your clients, here’s a great Fact Sheet from the PBA with positive talking points for you and other nail techs about the issue of "toxic" ingredients in your polish.