Q&A

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

Q.

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?

A.

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 www.probeauty.org/nmc.

— Paul Bryson is principal scientist, basic and long-term research, for OPI (www.opi.com).

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