Nail Myths Busted – 10 free and non toxic nail products are safer for you and your nails.
There are so many things wrong with this claim! When I see it used in the cosmetics industry and specifically in relation to nail coverings. What really annoys me is that it’s basically fear based marketing aimed at the uneducated or inexperienced. I think Doug Schoon a well respected industry scientist put it best in this post of Facebook:
“A small nail polish marketing company contacted me. They wanted to sell their new products as 10-free and non-toxic, but a major manufacturer said this claim is a “little sketchy”. So they asked me if they needed to do any testing to back up this claim. I won’t mention any names, but I did want to share my response, see below
“Since you asked, I’m happy to share my thoughts. These claims are mostly bogus and, in my view, amounts to deceptive fear-based marketing. No nail polish can claim to be non-toxic, because a 120 lb. person cannot drink 12 ounces of nail polish and not any suffer toxic effects, per the definition toxicity. On the other hand, wearing nail polish doesn’t produce any toxic effects either. Zero-free nail polish has been worn by millions since the 1940’s without evidence of toxic harm. When was the last time you heard of someone getting sick from nail polish? Doctors and hospitals are not seeing nail polish victims, so where is the convincing evidence of any harm? There is none; this is all fear-based speculation and not based on facts.
My opinion is the entire ”Free” thing was created for the profit of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) . They make huge amounts of money by creating irrational and unwarranted fear about cosmetics. There is little to no real evidence to support that nail polish is harmful. The risks associated with an ingredient at 100% concentration are not the same risks when the ingredient is used in a few percent, but the EWG has distorted the public’s understanding and for their own profit. They could argue the silica thickener in your polish could cause lung damage, but that would be laughable. Still, this could be the next “Free” that some marketer promotes and the EWG could targeted your products. They can say your polishes could cause cancer because they contain titanium dioxide, which is equally laughable. But , it also is silly to say camphor or gluten is harmful in nail polish, and those are now being targeted. And many say that artificial colors are toxic, but how can you sell a nail polish without them? It’s a “slippery slope”, as the old saying goes and a very risky way to market cosmetic products.
Yes, you could “get in trouble” for claiming to be 10-free, if your products contain ANY measurable traces of any substance you claim is not in your polish. Fear-based activist groups test nail polishes and if they find even trace amounts of these ingredients, they can sue you and/or sic government regulators on you, as they have done in the past. They know small companies don’t always do testing to ensure these products contain “zero” percent of these substances, which is how they interpret “free”. Some companies have had accidental tiny trace contaminations in their products, yet they are attacked and publicly lambast by fear-based groups and blogs that pretend the polish is harmful. They could find a trace of something in just one batch, and you’ll be on their negative list forever. These groups never let go of a good scare story, they make too much money needlessly frightening the public with bogus stories they plant on the internet as if they were “facts”.
So, my advice is to not play this game. It just encourages the problem. You have a 10-free polish, but does that mean that 6-free products contains unsafe substances or that your products unsafe because now there is a 12-free? No! Of course not, but that’s how nail polish is being marketed these days. Sooner or later, the public is going to get wise to this foolish charade.
My advice is to not go there, and don’t try to keep up with this fools game. Also, regularly test your products and ingredients to ensure they contain no traces of anything you say is not there, zero percent! It’s crazy, I know. However, cosmetic marketers who play this game bear much of the responsibility for this problem, because they’ve jumped on the crazy train.
Sorry to give you all this bad news, but this is what the industry has done to itself by giving in to the EWG and their trickster ways, and they aren’t done with us yet. Likely there is more to come. These fear based activists aka “pressure groups” make millions by needlessly scaring the crap out of your customers, and they show no signs of changing their business model any time soon. You should be worried for the future of cosmetics in general. Everyone should be! Unless the public finally gets wise to joke that’s being played on them, at their expense. We can only hope. “
Doug Schoon is an internationally-recognised scientist, author and educator with over 30 years experience in the cosmetic, beauty and personal care industry. He is a leading industry authority, known for his technical and regulatory work that has helped shape the beauty industry.
His website can be found here: