Is it possible to transmit germs or bacteria via nail polish?

November 09, 2018 | Bookmark +

Is it possible to transmit germs or bacteria via nail polish? How come we worry about “double-dipping” with other products, but not nail polish?


The short answer is, the solvents in nail polish are very hostile to microbial survival. The NMC (Nail Manufacturers Council) was asked this question years ago by a regulatory agency, and in response, we contracted with an independent lab to perform a study. The study found that when nail polish was deliberately contaminated with microbes in a lab test, the microbes quickly died off. 

For a more “real-world” test, we visited several salons and purchased back a large number of half-used nail polish bottles — which clearly had been used on numerous customers — and sent them to the lab for testing. In all cases, the used bottles from the salons had no detectable microorganisms.  

As a result of these findings, regulatory agencies have continued to allow an exception to the “no double-dipping” rule for nail polish.

You can view the research project, titled Investigation of the Potential for Microbial Contamination in Nail Polish at

— Paul Bryson is principal scientist, basic and long-term research, for OPI (

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What’s the cause of the pinkish-red oval area on the pad of my client’s toes?

I have a client who has a recurring problem with her fourth toes during the winter months. Both of her “ring finger” toes develop a pinkish-red oval area on the pad. Then a month later, when I see her again, the skin has become dry and hard like a callus, with the layers of skin peeling away to reveal a deeper, dark epicenter.  It’s extremely painful for her and, needless to say, we do not touch it. But it clears up in the summer when she’s wearing open-toed sandals, so I suspect it has to be due to the boots she wears in the winter. Plus she never puts lotion on her feet or uses a foot file in between visits. What do you think causes this?

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What are the big white spots on my natural-nail client’s nails?

I have a client who has been with me for about two years. She used to wear acrylic nails but has been a natural nail client for eight months or so. She has these white spots on her nails — big spots that are dry, but not flaky, right in the middle of the nail. I did try to buff them lightly but they do not come off or grow off. I had a new client come in last week who had the same on her toenails. She said it started after she had a pedicure done at another salon. Can you help?

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