Unless someone is getting married, you probably won’t see me with nail polish on. It’s not really because nail polish contains toxic chemicals, though it does, or that it’s near impossible to find natural brands that either 1) work the way we’ve become accustomed to, or 2) aren’t still filled with suspect chemicals despite clean claims.
It’s mostly because I rather get a massage than a mani, when it comes to pampering, and I’m just a bit of a wildling (Game of Thrones, anyone?) with regards to maintenance. Whether I’m using the so-called naturals, or mainstream three-frees (like OPI and others) my nails usually chip within a day of getting painted, and I wait way too long to take it off. That’s partially because remover makes me want to die, but also because I always seem to have something more pressing to do.
The other reason I rarely polish is that, in my experience, it destroys and weakens my nails and—because I’ve always been self-conscious that my hands are a little bit manish—I love keeping my nails just on the longer side of good taste. Paint pour moi equals breakage, so I go long rather than colorful, and this works for me because it saves time, money, and the (literal) headache that comes when I sit in a nail salon. The clean one I sometimes frequented sadly went out of business, because like many things green or pretending to be, prices were unreasonably marked up.
The last time we talked polish, many of you asked us to further comment on the big debate: Are any of them clean, or just greenwashed and overpriced? There’s a diligently researched piece on Fig+Sage about this that’s totally worth a read, but the way I see it, debate is a misnomer. There’s not a whole lot to argue because it comes down to choice, and most of us clean gals fall into one of three categories.
1. You know that no polish is totally clean, but continue to get your nails done because it makes you happy and you’ve found a three-free, or better, brand you love. It’s a risk you’re willing to take here and there for the feeling of joy/relaxation/self love/ritual/insert your own, that it gives you. We’ve stated in the past, and continue to believe that as long as a choice is informed, it’s yours (and ours) to make! Whether it’s a hamburger, a cocktail, highlights, or regular mani-pedis.
2. You used to love it, but you can’t abide putting mystery chemicals on your body so you’ve learned how to use the water-based naturals like Scotch (again, not totally “natural” but as Fig+Sage points out reluctantly, better). G-bless! You’re also one of those people who whips up DIY recipes, and we love you. We know some women like you, and we admire them (Rebecca Bailey, I’m looking at you.)
3. You don’t love nail polish enough for either the risk, effort, or cost, so you sport bare nails and do your best to keep them looking clean, maybe buffed, possibly long. This, clearly, is my camp.
Will we review cleaner polishes on occasion? Probably. Does that mean we think that they’re perfect? No. Do we think that some are overpriced and greenwashed? For sure. But we’ll always present the facts available to us.
Ultimately, if you’re from camp polish, we want you to choose from cleaner versions and continue to push the market that way. The fact that some of the biggest brands have gone three-free isn’t nothing. And this happens to be a category—like hair dye—that just does not have a perfect option right now, and maybe never will.
So, which are you: polish never, on special occasions, weekly? Is your choice informed by cost, chems, something else?
UPDATE: Blah! Sorry guys, I forgot to mention that an unfortunate study revealed that some supposed three-free brands are, in fact, not. Siobhan covered it back in April, and lists the guilty parties in this post. Just to further confused matters.
Because I get my nails done so rarely, when I do it feels like Christmas. This past weekend I had a special event up in Canada, and my first mani-pedi plan was my usual: some kind of deep red on my toes, and a buff on my nails. But as I started to look through the OPI selection (I know, I know, big-three free but a far cry from clean), I saw myself drawn to something fresher. So I found a fun bright pink for my toes.
But then out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the new spring colors. So pop! I reached for a kind of electric coral, and after some deliberation decided I would do my hands and toes in this bright wonder.
Colors are big, we know, and I don’t think that trend is or should be changing anytime soon. But suddenly my nails have me all excited to explore, and I’m wondering: Who has the best bright shades in the natural nail sphere?
So spill: What colors do you love, and who has them? (Of course, nobody will judge you if they’re not from the cleaner lines too.)
Right now I’m feeling partial to creamy mattes in pinks and corals, though I’m ready to try a few wild card colors as well. Some that I’m jazzed about include: Sheswai’s watermelon pink; the vibrant Highland Fling (a coral creme) from Scotch Naturals (maybe even the mint creme too); this orangey number from Priti along with this one too; and the whole Gossip line from Zoya (though they have SO many colors, I find it overwhelming to choose); this one also caught my eye.
Question number 2: What’s the last color you bought, and from who?
And if you’re finding it a wee early to talk about spring, I beg to differ! Next Sunday we are springing those clocks forward, and though I was freezing my buns off in Toronto this weekend, my bright nails warmed.
A perfectly clean nail polish is a very hard thing to find. Especially if you don’t want it washing off in the shower! But there’s good news today from our friends at Well+GOOD: More mainstream lines are ditching the big bad three, meaning flexible clean girls can now enjoy awesome shades without the full toxic load. Here’s their post—but first(!) tell us about your favorite cleaner polish in the comments, please.
It used to be that less-toxic nail polishes were made by just a handful of natural-leaning brands.
Now, brands like Chanel and Nars have gone three-free—meaning no formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, and toluene—and more choices.
Non-toxic polishes are the new gold standard for nails, says Adair Ilyinksy, co-owner of the chic TenOverTen nail salon in Tribeca. “There’s an understanding now that modern formulations don’t require formaldehyde.”
What colors are hot with New Yorkers this fall? “Metallics have been really big,” says Ilyinsky. “There’s also been a move away from puttys and grays towards blues and greens.”
Here are the popular nail polish shades you’ll want to get your hands on now.