This may forever be known as the year we learned to seriously question our manicure habits. After The New York Times' major exposé on nail salon conditions, a groundbreaking study by researchers at Duke University and Environmental Working Group revealed that most nail polishes contain triphenyl phosphate (also known as TPHP), an endocrine disruptor that can actually cause weight gain, reproductive issues, and other hormonal problems. And, yes—just one manicure is enough to impact your body.
Sadly, the study listed many of our favorite brands as culprits, which raised the question: Which brands are safe? So we set out to create an illustrious list of 100% TPHP-free polishes to stand by.
And then, we ran into trouble. Many brands not listed on the study still contain TPHP, for one thing—even those that pride themselves on being low in other toxins. Scarier still, as EWG points out, some brands simply don't disclose that their formulas contain the chemical. In fact, two of the eight brands containing TPHP in the study didn't list it in their ingredients.
So while our search didn't give us quite the variety that we had hoped for, we did manage to nail down (so to speak) a handful of brands that offer polishes we can actually confirm as TPHP-free. And now that this study has come to light, we think (hope?) that only more brands will follow.
Keep reading to see which nail polish brands can promise a safe manicure.
Not to worry, Zoya fans: The brand confirmed with us that there is no TPHP to be found in any of its polishes, making it one of most widely available nontoxic options out there.
This L.A.-based brand prides itself on being ethically minded and toxin-free: In addition to lacking unsafe ingredients like TPHP, formaldehyde, and camphor, Lauren B. polishes are also vegan-friendly.
Get this lesser-known brand on your radar—Suncoat's innovative polishes are water-based and arguably have the cleanest ingredient profile we've ever seen. There's even a biodegradable, plant-based polish remover. (And, psst: The brand offers cosmetics beyond nail polishes, all with the same nontoxic MO.)