Formaldehyde Use In Nail Polish

What is it?

Formaldehyde gas is a naturally occurring gas present in many every day situations. It’s produced naturally in small amounts in the human body and occurs naturally in fruits and some foods. Industrially it’s produced and mainly used to produce other chemicals and resins. Along with many construction products, at 5% it is used in a water solution as a disinfectant in many situations such as in hospitals. Also under restriction in the EU it may be used as a preservative in cosmetics and nail hardening products. Since it’s fair to say that it is everywhere it’s also important to mention that low level exposure from the correct use of these products would not be expected to cause adverse health effects.

Why is it a concern?


Both U.S. EPA and IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) determined that excessive prolonged exposure to formaldehyde gas can cause a rare nasal form of cancer. Food and substances which release a concentration of 0.2 percent or less are considered safe.

Formalin is quite frequently mentioned alongside formaldehyde. This does contain about 37% formaldehyde however the two are different. Formaldehyde in its pure form isn’t used in nail polish however some nail polishes may contain formaldehyde derived ingredients. Other formaldehyde derived ingredients include tosylamide/formalin resin & methylene glycol. These are used as a polish hardener.

Unfortunately people are misunderstanding as to the nature of formaldehyde and how or when it might cause a risk. Information has led some people to believe that there is pure formaldehyde in nail polish, which is not the case.

Safer Beauty

Many brands are and continue to make moves towards safer beauty. As a result, many have removed formaldehyde as well as toluene and DBP (3-free). There are some who have also removed more than this. (I will share in a future post).

What ever you decide to use on your nails is entirely at your discretion however I hope this post was helpful.

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Further reading can be found on the UK Government website.

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