Nail polish. I don’t use it. For the same reasons I avoid conventional beauty products, sun screen and perfume. The stuff is toxic and not necessary. Now, new research claims nail polish can cause weight gain. Good Lord.

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The recent study, conducted by researchers at Duke University and the Environmental Working Groupg (EWG), tested the urine of 26 women who had recently painted their nails. It found traces of Triphenyl Phosphate (TPHP), in every participant.

What’s TPHP?

TPHP is a chemical commonly used to make plastics and fire retardants in foam furniture. In nail polish it’s used to provide flexibility to the product.

TPHP is a chemical known to disrupt hormone function by mucking with our endocrine system, affecting a variety of vital functions, including reproduction.

Plus, it specifically and significantly interacts with a protein which is central to regulating our metabolism and the production of fat cells.

How does it get into your body?

First off, you inhale it as soon as you open the bottle. But the more remarkable finding of the study is that women who directly applied polish to their nails (as opposed to those who wore gloves and applied the polish to synthetic nails) were found to have a seven times higher concentration of TPHP.

Researchers theorised that the network of capillaries in the cuticle surrounding the nail play a role in carrying the toxins into the body.

How does it make us fat?

As with all these studies, I like to flag that correlation is not causation. That said the growing number of studies in this area are seeing more and more experts claiming a link between the toxin and weight gain and obesity.

My take? Why take the risk? It makes sense to stay away from chemicals in beauty products for multiple reasons. I share my thoughts on chemical intolerance if you’d like to explore the topic further. Honestly, no one needs to wear standard toxic nail polish. If you insist on putting coloured stuff on your nail beds, check out my guide to buying low-toxin nail polish or the EWG’s safe(ish) nail polish list.

Will this study change your mind about wearing nail polish?

Have your say, leave a comment.

  • Angelika

    Ouch! Facts hurt.
    I do love my nail polish and tend to wear it to hide my brittle, splitting nails – another not so wonderful side effect of a thyroid condition. However, maybe this comes at a right time, perhaps its time to wear less and opt for the safe-ish brands. Thank you for this beauty post Sarah, I really enjoy reading your beauty/personal/home routine posts.

  • Gemma

    No sunscreen?? I hope in 20 years you don’t look like an old leather handbag getting sun spots (!) removed. You might be healthy on the inside, but different story with skin….naïve to think it won’t happen to you.

    • Caroline

      Read her article on sunscreen use before you comment. While you may disagree, she does explain her motives for not wearing sunscreen in the link.

  • Thank you for sharing this, Sarah- and not surprising to learn.

    Sunscreen is a challenge. My husband has developed rosacea that the sun especially exacerbates unless he wears sunscreen. (Or a hat, although that isn’t always tenable.) We found a decent sunscreen deemed safe by the EWG that seems to work: MyChelle Sun Shield.

    Do you happen to know anything about it?

  • Sherrie

    Sarah, I don’t know what your next book is about but I sure hope it has something to do with skincare / haircare / toxic chemical alternatives. You have written so much fantastic information about all of this, it would be great to have it all together in a beautiful book x

  • Elle

    I had a quick check of the EWG link for information on whether the study compared these women with others who’d not painted their nails recently, or ever, or any other kinds of controls used to ensure research reliability. I couldn’t find any references to these kinds of controls. While I don’t wear nail polish myself, and don’t think it could possibly be good for you, I’d been keen to read about some robust research into the effects, or evidence of the robustness of existing research, rather than sensational reporting.

  • MizzCheryl

    So I can I blame my nail polish instead of my inability to give up Coca-cola??!!

  • amy

    do you still get fake lashes with toxic glue?

  • Lisa

    Yes, this study will definitely make me think twice-and feel better about myself when I don’t have time to paint my nails!

  • ThinkingOnMyOwnTwoFeet

    I love painting my nails with Acquarella, as it’s a water based nail polish without the chemicals. It lasts longer on my nails than conventional polish, doesn’t require a base or top coat, doesn’t stain your nails, dries fast and leaves my nails healthy. ?