Your Manicure Will Kill You – True or False?


The world is ripe with green myth. (And here I thought that it was just ripe with oil spills.) There are so many rumors about what is toxic, what will kill you, and what just might give you a nasty rash that many people don’t know which green end is up. Here at EcoSalon, we’d like to take a moment from time to time, to address some of the health and environmental rumors out there. Think of us as the of green, but without Lindsay Lohan – that is, unless she has a pressing eco-oriented question.

So on our first foray into eco myth busting, we’re getting straight to the point – of our nails, that is! Have you heard? Getting your nails done will give you cancer. Between the chemicals in the polish and the nail remover and the cuticle softening, we might as well be dipping our paws in pails of toxic sludge, right?

Well, there might be some truth to this. As we have already reported, nail polishes contain chemicals likes toluene, formaldehyde and BDPs. Toluene can cause rapid breathing, blurred vision, dry skin and can affect the kidneys and nervous system. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and a volatile allergen and irritant, while Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) is linked to reproductive problems and underdeveloped genitals in newborn boys. There is a market for less chemically filled nail polishes, and you can find the deets on them here.

Also setting off green alarm bells, a recent report out of the United Kingdom shares that women who get their nails professionally manicured could be increasing their risk of skin cancer. The report was conducted after two women developed tumors on their hands from exposure to ultra-violet lamps used to fix/dry artificial nails. Doctors feel that the high dose of UVA rays are damaging hand skin cells when women hold them under the sun lamps during a manicure.

Dr. Deborah MacFarlane works at the University of Texas Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston. As she recently told The Daily Mail, “The UV nail lamp is most commonly used to cure gel nails but is also used to cure acrylic nails and dry traditional nail polish – but exposure to UV light is a major risk factor for the development of skin cancer.” Further, the salons that use cheap but potentially hazardous chemicals are also putting customers at risk. People who get professional manicures are urged to keep an eye on their hands for suspicious growths.

So will your manicure kill you? Well, think of it this way. Some people can smoke, drink, and run in traffic their entire lives and nary a scratch they will have. Others can get one whiff of second hand smoke and be sicker than sick. Your hands, your risk. In the meantime, all we can do is sift through the evidence and make our own health decisions. And keep up the green mythbustin’, naturally.

Any other green myths/questions/worries you’d like us to check out? Let us know!

Image: truk

Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.