Big 3 Free

I was asked recently about the ingredients in the products I use… now most of these ingredients have such long and complicated names that I simply don’t remember them all and as I have such complete faith in the company I represent, if they tell me they are safe, its enough for me :) However, this is a wrong attitude, one must never trust so implicitly. So, armed with a list of the chemicals in question, I did my research, and this is what I found out.

There are 3 main chemicals, which we should be aware of:

1. Formaldehyde

2. Toluene

3. Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)

Formaldehyde does not exist in nail polish. It is used in some nail hardeners but not in actual polish. A resin, formaldehyde resin, makes a polish tough and resilient. While the resin is manufactured from formaldehyde, once the product becomes a resin, the formaldehyde is chemically changed and essentially no longer present. So, while formaldehyde is grouped in with toluene and DBP in marketing statements and considered one of the big 3’s, it isn’t actually an issue unless you have a reaction to the formaldehyde resin.

The bottom line is, be aware of formaldehyde in your treatment products and not in polish.

Toluene is a solvent that makes polish easy to apply. It is an aromatic hydrocarbon commonly used as an industrial solvent for the manufacturing of paints, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and rubber.

Toluene is found in gasoline, acrylic paints, varnishes, lacquers, paint thinners, adhesives, glues and shoe polish. At room temperature, toluene is a sweet smelling, colourless and a volatile liquid.

DBP is a plasticizer to prevent chips and cracks. DBP is an oily liquid that is soluble in fat and slightly soluble in water. It is not very volatile so it does not evaporate readily into the atmosphere.

Why are they bad? I’m not yet convinced they are bad. I really think this is something each person should decide for themselves. There are risks and effects caused by exposure to each of these chemicals. But, whether or not limited exposure to polish will actually result in those effects is yet to be determined. It is not my place to comment or decide this so I choose to present you with the information I have found so you can make up your own mind.

Are polishes just as good without them?

The simple answer is, it depends. Some brands have been Big 3 Free for years and have top notch formulas, some brands jumping on the band wagon don’t have it quite right yet. The best thing I can tell you is to experiment.

Which brands are Big 3 Free?

Butter London, Avon, LCN, Nubar, OPI, Revlon, Sally Hansen.