What does 10-free mean?

Posted by Angela Dam on

Nail polish that is 10-free simply means it is formulated without the top ten harmful ingredients. These ten chemicals are known to be harmful and toxic to our bodies when they are absorbed through our fingernails, toenails, and cuticles. For this reason, we find it extremely important to formulate all our polishes without these toxins.

So what exactly are these chemicals and what harm can they do to our bodies? 

Formaldehyde - A probable carcinogen to humans that is absorbed through the skin and by breathing its fumes and cause irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. It is likely to cause neurological effects and increase risk of asthma, allergy, and eczema. 

Dibutyl Phthalate - A solvent that has the ability to enhance the capacity of other chemicals to cause genetic mutations. It is a suspected endocrine disruptor that can interfere with hormone function and can interfere with fertility and cause harm to unborn children. There has been evidence that exposure can cause other health effects such as liver and kidney failure in young children. 

Toluene - This colorless liquid can cause a wide range of issues from eye/nose irritation, tiredness, confusion, headaches, tears, anxiety, and insomnia to more serious conditions such as nerve damage, inflammation of the skin, liver damage, and kidney damage.

Formaldehyde Resin - While there isn't conclusive research that shows formaldehyde resin as being a carcinogenic, there is evidence that shows it is a toxicant or allergen to human skin. Those who have formaldehyde allergies may get dermatitis from nail polishes containing formaldehyde resin. 

Camphor - This ingredient is used to create a glossy look on nail polish and is easily absorbed through broken skin causing toxic levels in the body. The most severe symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, seizures, confusion, and vision problems. It is recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women to avoid camphor.

Xylene - Inhalation of this ingredient in small amounts can cause a slew of symptoms including headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea. As more of this chemical is inhaled, more serious reactions can occur including sleepiness, stumbling, irregular heartbeat, fainting, or death.

Ethyl Tosylamide - A plasticizer used in nail polish to speed up dry time, this chemical is banned in Europe due to its classification as a sulfonamide. Sulfonamides have issues with antibiotic resistance and can cause liver damage. Other side effects are diarrhea, nausea, skin rash, headaches, and dizziness.

Parabens - This group of chemicals are used as preservatives and can cause disruptions in the body's hormones. Fertility and reproductive harm has been found to be caused by parabens. It has also been known to affect birth outcomes and cause an increase in cancer risk.

Phthalates - This group of chemicals are primarily used as a plasticizer. While the effects of low level exposure to phthalates is unknown, it has been discovered that some phthalates have affected reproductive organs in lab animals. 

Fragrances - These indoor pollutants can have many different adverse effects including migraine headaches, asthma attacks, breathing difficulties, and contact dermatitis.


Cancer.org. 2020. Formaldehyde. [online] Available at: <https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/formaldehyde.html> [Accessed 14 August 2020].

David Suzuki Foundation. 2020. The Dirty Dozen: Dibutyl Phthalate - David Suzuki Foundation. [online] Available at: <https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/dirty-dozen-dibutyl-phthalate/> [Accessed 14 August 2020].

Cdc.gov. 2020. Toluene | NIOSH | CDC. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/toluene/> [Accessed 14 August 2020].

EWG. 2020. EWG Skin Deep® | What Is FORMALDEHYDE RESIN. [online] Available at: <https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredients/702501-FORMALDEHYDE_RESIN> [Accessed 14 August 2020].

Camphor: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, And Warning. [online] Webmd.com. Available at: <https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-709/camphor> [Accessed 14 August 2020].

Atsdr.cdc.gov. 2020. ATSDR - Medical Management Guidelines (Mmgs): Xylenes. [online] Available at: <https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/MMG/MMG.asp?id=291&tid=53> [Accessed 14 August 2020].

Cosmeticsinfo.org. 2020. Ethyl Tosylamide | Cosmetics Info. [online] Available at: <https://www.cosmeticsinfo.org/ingredient/ethyl-tosylamide-0> [Accessed 14 August 2020].

Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 2020. Sulfonamides. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548382/> [Accessed 14 August 2020].

EWG. 2020. What Are Parabens, And Why Don’T They Belong In Cosmetics?. [online] Available at: <https://www.ewg.org/californiacosmetics/parabens> [Accessed 14 August 2020].

Cdc.gov. 2020. Phthalates Factsheet | National Biomonitoring Program | CDC. [online] Available at: <https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Phthalates_FactSheet.html> [Accessed 14 August 2020].

Steinemann, A., 2020. Health And Societal Effects From Exposure To Fragranced Consumer Products. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5122698/> [Accessed 14 August 2020].


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