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10 Best Non-Toxic Nail Polishes for a Healthy Mani

What 10-free actually means.

best nontoxic nail polish brands
Jinsoon/Oroso/Aila/Zoya

We updated this article in April 2022 to add more information about each featured product, based on expert advice and reviews. Our original top-rated picks remain the same, with the addition of Pacifica's Plant Magic polish, a 16-free option.


Traditional nail polish has acquired a bad rap, largely due to chemical ingredients and a harsh odor. Besides irritating your senses with a pungent scent, "nail polishes contain solvents and some ingredients that can potentially cause health issues and irritation if inhaled in large quantities," says Sabina Wizemann, a senior chemist in the Health, Beauty & Environmental Sciences Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute.

The strong aroma may not be the only thing that's harsh about some nail polishes: Chemicals in common nail lacquer formulas could potentially enter the body through your nail beds. A 2015 study by researchers at Duke University detected evidence of a common nail polish chemical called triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP, in the bodies of every woman who volunteered to paint her nails for the study.

The good news: Many advancements have been made in nail polish formulations since this study. There are options without that particular harmful chemical and other potentially dangerous ingredients, which brings us to so-called "nontoxic" or "natural" nail lacquers. "Natural," much like "clean beauty," is a marketing term that is unregulated by the FDA for consumer products, so the term itself doesn't have a solid definition when it comes to beauty products.

That said, most non-toxic nail polishes are 3-free, meaning they do not contain formaldehyde, toluene or dibutyl phthalate, three known disrupters. You can find more information on what these terms mean below, but in the interim, these are the best natural nail polishes reviewed by our Beauty Lab. Wizemann ensured the below picks, selected by our editors, are formulated without potentially harmful ingredients. Here, the best natural nail lacquers available right now:

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10-FREE
Professional Nail Lacquer
Zoya
ZOYA

  • Long-lasting
  • Huge color range
  • Applies and dries evenly

Zoya has been a pioneer for nontoxic nail lacquers, starting with a 3-free formula, followed by a 5-free formula. Now it's officially 10-free. Looking for a super specific shade? There's a good chance Zoya has it with over 550 colors to choose from. Beauty editors and reviewers alike gush over the brand and it's incredible color options. "Zoya has been my go-to polish for years; I love the wide shade range and long-lasting formula," says Beauty Assistant Catharine Malzahn. "I’ve even had pedicures using Zoya that have stayed chip-free for up to three weeks. As an added bonus, I barely need a second coat of this polish."

• Made without: Formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, dibutyl phthalate or camphor, ethyl tosylamide, TPHP, xylene parabens, lead
Number of shades: 583

10-FREE
Nail Polish
Jin Soon
JINsoon

  • Doesn't chip easily
  • Dries fast

Founded by iconic nail artist Jin Soon Choi, these nail lacquers are pro-approved. She believes "nail polish should be as healthful and eco-friendly yet enduring as possible." And she has brought that to life with her chip-proof, fast-drying, vegan-friendly and 10-free formula. Beauty Director April Franzino is a big fan and "loves that this line includes of-the-moment trending nail polish colors with vibrant, saturated finishes and fun effects like chunky glitter you don’t see often from other brands.

Made without: Formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, camphor, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, triphenyl phosphate, parabens, lead
Number of shades: 90

10-FREE
Nail Polish
Côte
CÔTE

  • Applies smoothly and evenly
  • Shiny finish

You get all the long lasting shine without a long list of harsh ingredients. "Not only is this polish 10-free, it's the glossiest, longest-lasting formula I've ever tried," says GHI Deputy Editor Jessica Teich. "DIY manis go on streak-free, dry quickly, last up to two weeks and have a gel-like sheen that always get tons of compliments." Reviewers on Côte's website agree and rave that the polish "goes on smoothly, evenly and with minimal coats; and lasts a long time."

Made without: Formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, camphor, formaldehyde resin, TPHP, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, parabens, gluten
Number of shades: 129

16-FREE
Plant Magic Polish
Pacifica
Pacifica

  • Great color options
  • Dries quickly
  • Easy to apply

Pacifica's polish is void of sixteen toxins, long-lasting and is 100-percent vegan. Its flat brush is super easy to use and gives great coverage in just a couple swipes. "The vegan, plant based formula is free of toxic additives, but still glides onto nails easily, without clumping, bubbles or streaking," says one Ulta reviewer. "The polish lasted almost a week without needing a touch up."

Made without: formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, parabens, acetone, TPHP, animal, bisphenol A (BPA), sulfates, e-series glycol ethers, benzophenone 1, 2, nonylphenol ethoxylate
Number of shades: 26

14-FREE
Pure Cover Nail Paint
Orosa Beauty
OROSA

  • Dries quickly
  • Long wear
  • Reviewers love the colors

Orosa's nail lacquer bottles up all the good things: a quick-dry formula, week-long wear and fresh color. The vegan and cruelty-free formula is made without 14 controversial ingredients. "This polish went on so easily and dried so quick," shares one reviewer from Orosa's site.

Made without: Formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), formaldehyde resin, toluene, camphor, triphenyl phosphate, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, MEHQ/HQ, MIT, palm oil, parabens, animal-derived ingredients, gluten
Number of shades: 4 per season

14-FREE
Nail Lacquer
Aila
AILA

  • Super shiny finish
  • Chip resistant

Founded by a podiatric surgeon, Aila has a strong focus on maintaining the health of your nails. The vegan, cruelty-free and gluten-free lacquers come in a rainbow of vibrant shades as well as neutrals. "It is very long lasting," says one reviewer on Aila's website (of this shade). "Usually with light colored nail polishes I have to apply many coats to my nails, but not with Aila’s nail polish—it's a very vibrant color!"

• Made without: Parabens, sulfates, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, triphenyl phosphate, xylene, bismuth oxychloride, ethyl tosylamide, methylisothiazolinone hydroquinone monomethyl ether, plant derivatives
Number of shades: 47

10-FREE
Nail Polish
Dear Sundays
SUNDAYS

  • Rich colors
  • Applies evenly

Besides being vegan and cruelty-free, Sundays' 10-free polish makes your DIY manicure a breeze thanks to it's easy-to-use brush for a fuss-free application. "I love that the nail polish glides on easily and you only need two coats," shares one Sundays reviewer. "I found it to dry quickly and didn't chip as easily."

Made without: TPHP, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, parabens, tert-butyl hydroperoxide
Number of shades: 70+

8-FREE
Nail Polish
Smith & Cult
SMITH & CULT

  • Beautiful colors
  • Doesn't chip easily
  • Dries quickly

Available in a variety of colors and finishes, Smith & Cult's chip-resistant formula goes on super shiny. For an opaque finish, apply two coats. All are vegan, cruelty-free and filled with their 8-free formula. "It is absolutely worth the money," shares one reviewer on Smith & Cult's website. "It lasted longer than any other polish I've used. I'm rough on my nails but this lasted 10 days before I had my first chip."

Made without: Dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, triphenyl phosphate
Number of shades: 66

8-FREE
Nail Polish
Ten Over Ten
TENOVERTEN

  • Long-lasting
  • Super shiny finish

  • Some reviewers say there is a strong smell

These chic bottles house a polish that eliminates the bad (acetone, parabens and eight controversial ingredients), and replaces it with some good (essential oils, vitamin E and aloe) to keep nails healthy and strong. Fun fact: Each shade of tenoverten nail lacquer is named after the streets of New York, home to the two founders of the brand. "I managed to get a professional look at home with this polish," shares one Target reviewer, while another says "This is the only nail polish that stays on my nails for a really long time."

Made without: Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, triphenyl phosphate (TPHP)
Number of shades: 44

WATER-BASED NAIL POLISH
Nail Paint
Piggy Paint
Piggy Paint

  • Scent free
  • No harsh chemicals

  • Can take longer to dry

The bottle says it all: "natural as mud." This kid-friendly polish is hypoallergenic, water-based and cruelty-free. Sensitive to the smell of nail lacquers? This formula claims to be "virtually odorless," so you can breathe easy when it comes time to touch up your (or your kiddos') tips. "I was looking for a safe nail polish for my daughter and this is exactly what I wanted," says one Target reviewer. "No smell and no chemicals!"

Made without: Formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, parabens, acetone, TPHP, animal, bisphenol A (BPA), sulfates, e-series glycol ethers, benzophenone 1, 2, nonylphenol ethoxylate
Number of shades: 43

How we choose the best natural nail polishes
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We selected these products based on expert advice, extensive research and top reviews. The Good Housekeeping Institute's Beauty Lab is constantly testing the newest nail and makeup products, including hand creams, nail polishes and more, and our beauty pros shared their favorite picks for natural nail polishes based on years of industry experience and product testing.

After we gathered the top picks, GH Institute Beauty Lab's Senior Chemist, Sabina Wizemann, combed through the selections to ensure they are each formulated without potentially harmful ingredients, so the included nail polish brands have been vetted not only for performance, but safety as well.

What does "non-toxic" nail polish mean?
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"Products are crossing off 'toxic' ingredients from formulas at rapid speed, and some brands offer vegan and gluten-free options," says Wizemann. Many "non-toxic" polishes are 3-free, which means they're formulated without formaldehyde, toluene and Dibutyl phthalate. Here's why:

  • Formaldehyde, an intense smelling and colorless gas, typically used as a nail hardener in nail polishes, has been linked to some types of cancer, including leukemia, in humans when exposed in high amounts, according to the American Cancer Society. Though formaldehyde does occur naturally in the environment and is present in small amounts in most living organisms, it is recognized as a carcinogen by International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as well as by the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Toluene is a colorless, sweet-smelling industrial solvent that temporarily affects the nervous system and can cause strong eye and nose irritation as well as dizziness and fatigue when inhaled, according to the EPA. It is not characterized as a carcinogen, but is a teratogen, an agent that can disturb the development of the embryo or fetus after prolonged exposure.
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) is commonly used as a plasticizer to promote material flexibility and reduce brittleness, and it can cause irritations, headaches and dizziness when inhaled.

Beyond that, polishes go as far as being 10-, 14- or even 16-free. Here's the breakdown of what's missing (thankfully!) from those formulas:

  • 5-free contains no formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, camphor
  • 7-free contains no formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene
  • 9-free contains no formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, parabens, acetone
  • 10-free contains no formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, parabens, acetone, TPHP, TBHP, gluten
  • 14-free contains no formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, parabens, TPHP, gluten, MEHQ/HQ, MIT, palm oil, animal-derived ingredients.
  • 16-free contains no formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, parabens, acetone, TPHP, animal-derived ingredients, bisphenol A (BPA), sulfates, e-series glycol ethers, benzophenone 1, 2, nonylphenol ethoxylate
  • "Water-based formulas incorporate non-synthetic pigments and aqueous acrylic polymers, plus they are also odorless," says Wizemann. Though easy to apply, they are often not as long-lasting.
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
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Sabina Wizemann has coordinated makeup and nail product tests by collaborating with professional makeup and nail artists, lab testing and performing large consumer studies. She has tested and assessed makeup foundations, concealers, mascaras, liquid lipsticks and tinted moisturizers during her tenure as a senior chemist at Good Housekeeping.

Beauty writer Dori Price has over 15 years of experience researching and writing nail stories, combining her knowledge with the expertise of top industry professionals including nail artists, technicians and dermatologists. She is an expert in all nail product categories, including nail color, nail treatments, nail art, professional services and more.

Paige Stables also contributed to this article; she was a former Assistant Beauty Editor at Good Housekeeping, where she regularly covered beauty products, including nail colors, tools and care.

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