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August 31, 2016

My Year Without Nail Polish

My Year Without Nail Polish: why I quit the salons, went bare, and uncovered the healthiest nails of my life.

I went the last year without nail polish. I know, it’s weird to hear someone who is admittedly quite smitten with all beauty products say that, but it happened. Previously, I kept them constantly painted and was no stranger to monthly shellac appointments. Stopping polish cold turkey was a big step for me. So why the Lack of Lacquer movement? Here’s a shortlist of the reasons that led me to go bare:

  1. Like our skin, our bodies can absorb toxins through our nails.
  2. The EWG reports that as much as 50% of all 3000 nail polishes in its database have been found to contain triphenyl phosphate, or TPP, though they suspect even more contain it but do not disclose it.
  3. TPP is known to cause hormone disruption, and various studies show that women who paint their nails have high levels of TPP in their urine.
  4. Technicians in many nail salons work in conditions that are unsafe, often unregulated, expose them to high levels of toxins and often receive unfair wages. It’s important to do your research and go to a reputable salon if possible.
  5. Contrary to popular opinion, nails don’t “breathe”. They actually receive nutrients from the bloodstream, not the air.  However, prolonged use of polish can cause your nails to develop hard white ridges, dryness and peeling as a result of constant contact to chemicals. Plus, every time you remove polish (especially shellac or gel) you risk having the top layer of nail cells ripped off, further damaging your natural nail.

Given all of that information, I decided that not painting my nails was a small sacrifice that could have a big impact on my health. In my quest to remove toxins from my routine, this one has by far been the easiest. The only product I currently use is Studio Aroma Holistic Essentials Cuticle Oil (I received it in my Laritzy Box), and a nail file to shape and shorten them.

My Year Without Nail Polish: why I quit the salons, went bare, and uncovered the healthiest nails of my life.

What has occurred in the past year? The health of my nails has drastically improved. They were never naturally pretty, and they would constantly break or peel. I can say that right now my nails are the longest, strongest and healthiest they have ever been! I also feel a sense of freedom by not constantly monitoring how much my shellac manicure has grown out, and how many more days I have until I need to spend an hour (or more) at the salon.

Admittedly (I’m only human), I haven’t been able to stop painting my toenails. However, I’ve been doing it far less (once every 1-2 months) and have been doing pedicures at home following One Love Organics’ at-home pedicure tips and using Jenna Hipp polish, which is made with good-for-you-ingredients.

From time-to-time I glance at my hands and miss seeing each nail thickly glazed in candy apple red. My Instagram posts would probably be prettier if my nails were painted. But, the quest to live healthier is about making small changes to our daily habits, and this was one that I could live without.

  • Elizabeth Dehn
    Born and raised in Minnesota by surprisingly low-maintenance parents, beauty writer and lifestyle editor Elizabeth Dehn (aka Bets) spent her awkward years buying Mood lipstick and whipping up DIY face masks before founding Beauty Bets in 2009.
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