Breathable Nail Polish Exists—Here's What it Means for Your Nails

breathable nail polish

@chocolategirlmani via @orly

When you first think of the perfect nail polish, you might think of the shade, the finish, and the staying power. Have you ever considered its porosity, though? Words like "oxygen" and "moisture" may have a negative connotation in regards to your manicure; we see these elements as benefits in the realm of skincare, but chances are you're probably equating oxygen with polish bubbles or moisture with warping, peeling nails. Breathable nail polish is here to change that.

This specific type of polish is permeable and porous, allowing air and moisture to reach your nails while maintaining a perfectly painted manicure. But how? We spoke with Tal Pink, Vice President of Business Development at ORLY International to learn more.

What Is Halal Nail Polish?

Also referred to as breathable nail polish, Halal nail polish is permeable, allowing water and air molecules to pass through. Nail experts argue this is better for the health of the nails.

Pink explains that in the nail industry, "the name 'breathable' was initially met with skepticism since nails get all the nutrients and oxygen they need from the bloodstream, not the air, but the inspiration behind the name is more nuanced." For a polish or nail lacquer to be considered breathable, there is a bit of chemistry involved. A breathable polish's molecular structure allows for microscopic water and air molecules to pass on through, which contribute to improved nail health. According to Pink, permeable polish allows oxygen and excess moisture to travel through the polish more easily, "which helps the nail to maintain its natural integrity and therefore minimize chipping and peeling." Halal nail polish is also commonly used in the Islamic faith, as its porousness allows those who wear nail polish to participate in Wudu, a pre-prayer cleansing ritual. (Though it's debated if breathable nail polish should be allowed for Wudu.)

How Is it Different From Regular Nail Polish?

From a technical standpoint, Pink explains that, "creating a one-step, permeable nail color required the use of more porous film formers compared to traditional nail lacquers."

Orly's line is created as a one-step product, as it has "added special agents to give it a high-shine finish without a topcoat," while other lines, like Inglot's 02M Breathable Nail Enamel offers polishes as well as a Breathable Base and Breathable Top Coat, for a more "traditional" 3-step manicure.

The Benefits of Breathable Nail Polish

  • Combats Waterlogged Nails: One of the goals of Orly's unique breathable line was to combat waterlogged nails. "Nail cells expand and contract as they absorb and hold moisture, which makes nail polish split, chip, and peel, so we created the Breathable formula to be more permeable than our traditional nail lacquer," Pink says.
  • Healthier For Your Nails: By now you've probably heard the recommendation to let your nails "breathe" or take an au naturale vacation in between frequent manicures. But by using these water-permeable polishes, your nails have the potential to stay more hydrated and moisturized, even with product on top.
  • Less Harsh Chemicals: Unfortunately, all polishes contain chemicals—some more than others. While lacquers and polishes that are 5- or 7- or 9-Free are widely considered to be the most "safe" and non-toxic, breathable polishes tend to contain fewer harsh chemicals when compared with their more-traditional counterparts.
  • It Dries Faster: Because oxygen can permeate through the polish as it dries, you're likely to experience a shorter wait time for your nails to dry completely.
  • It Lasts Longer: Breathable polish just might be more durable than regular polish. How? The oils that build up underneath traditional polishes can cause chips since polish won't properly bind with oil present. (This is why experts recommend wiping your nails with alcohol prior to painting!) But with breathable polish, your nail's natural oils can move through, and eventually, off of your nails, which can make your manicure more durable and last longer.

Applying Breathable Nail Polish

Brittney Boyce, consulting nail artist for ORLY explains that before applying breathable polish (or any polish, really), "always file, buff, and cleanse your nails with alcohol to remove any natural oils," for a longer-lasting manicure. Orly's formulation is a 1-step application, so if you're using the product, all you'll need are two coats. For other breathable polishes, they're typically applied just as you would "normal" polish—just be sure to follow any instructions or recommendations provided by the manufacturer.

The Best Breathable Nail Polishes

orly
Orly Breathable Treatment + Color $9.99
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ORLY launched the Breathable range in 2016, and it has since expanded to offer more than 70 shades, with more arriving each season.

inglot
Inglot O2M Breathable Nail Enamel $17
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Inglot's 02M Breathable line credits its ability to allow water and air to pass through thanks to a highly advanced polymer. This line of polishes pairs perfectly with their Breathable Top Coat.

786
786 Nail Polish Set 3 Piece (Choose Your Colors) $39.99
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This three-piece set by 786 allows you to select your three favorite shades, inspired by cities across the world. This brand is PETA verified as cruelty-free and vegan friendly.

Maya
Maya Nail Polish $13.99
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This brand's nail lacquers are certified 100% breathable, water permeable, vegan, cruelty-free and Halal. They're also 9-Free and available in over 30 beautiful shades. (There's even a breathable glitter topcoat!)

If you're looking to try something new for your nails, give breathable nail polish a try. With the potential for improved nail health, endless color options, and a simple application process, it's something we can totally get behind.

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