How to give yourself a non-toxic and eco-friendly manicure

I love giving myself a manicure and it can be a great mindful act of self-care that can make you feel good, but I detest the smell and the horrible chemicals that they put in nail varnishes.

Luckily, things are starting to change in the beauty industry as companies start to remove toxic chemicals from beauty products as there is strong evidence that they can get into our body and even into breast milk.

There is no need to fear though, as toxicity is low in humans but it’s still worth avoiding as there could be harmful effects that we don’t know about. Not only that, but its better for the environment to avoid harsh chemicals like formaldehyde and for our noses to avoid the nasty smells (although some varnishes without the chemicals can still smell a bit!)

We are still waiting for a conclusive study on the effect of daily exposure of these chemicals on nail salon workers as measures can be put in place to make it a better working environment if there were any problems.


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Before I begin my manicure, I like to soak my nails to help me to relax. If you have damaged or weak nails, try a DIY nail bath that uses only three ingredients! This recipe uses orange, garlic and olive oil which are all available from Abel & Cole below if you live in the UK. I always use their organic produce for both cooking or making a DIY product.

After your DIY nail bath, its time for a buff and file – I always put music on when I do this to help me relax even more. Make a broken nail file a thing of the past with a glass nail file which is so much more hygienic! A glass file can be washed easily (make sure you do clean it), can be used many times and is an environmentally sustainable material to boot.

Once you’re buffed and filed, you can use olive oil on your cuticles like in the nail bath DIY, or you can use this paint-on organic nail treatment from Dadi’Oil which comes in a neat little glass bottle.

If you want a pale colour that you can wear for work then I love this light pink from Karma Organic, a cruelty-free polish that is made in the USA.

This polish doesn’t contain the harsh chemicals of TPHP, toluene, formaldehyde or DBP.

For full disclosure, here is the list of ingredients so that you can know exactly what you’re putting on your nails:

  • Butyl Acetate – organic compound used as a solvent in the production of lacquers
  • Ethyl Acetate – organic compound; colorless liquid used as a solvent in flavorings and perfumes
  • Nitrocellulose – a fiber used for viscosity
  • Isopropyl Alcohol – dissolves nitrocellulose
  • Adipic Acid/Fumaric Acid/ Phthalic Acid/Tricyclodecane Dimethanol Copolymer – soluble in water, alcohol, and acetone
  • Titanium Dioxide – the naturally occurring oxide of titanium, mined from the earth
  • Ferric Ammonium Ferrocyanide – a salt used in making blue pigments
  • Mica – made from sand
  • Iron Oxides – a principle ingredient in pigments ranging from yellow through red, and from purple through black
  • Tin Oxides – a polishing agent
  • May Also Contain: Acetyl Tributyl, Stearalkonium Hectorite or Citric Acid

If you want a colour that stands out, I loved this pearly blue from the Organic Pharmacy, a company who use 95-99.9% organic ingredients in their polishes.

If you need a base or top coat then Karma Organic have got you covered as well and this works very well with eco glitter!

I’ve talked about UK-based brand EcoStardust before as it is one of the few certified biodegradable glitter companies around and its products are beautiful. Read this article from The Independent to find out about the damage that the glitter trend is doing to the environment.

As there aren’t loads of eco nail varnishes around (although it is improving), why not create your own style using glitter and top coat? Simply paint your nail, dip or sprinkle on glitter and then paint over it again to seal.

Avoid dry nails when removing varnish with this Karma Naturals nail varnish remover with added vitamin E and minus the nasty chemicals. Once you’ve finished your manicure, you can moisturise your hands with fair trade organic hand cream and show off your lovely nails!

You can even have a go at making your own hand cream, using whipped coconut oil or using this sweet almond and lavender hand cream recipe.

If you need any more eco beauty products then check out Ren Skincare as they avoid nasty products and are committed to reducing packaging waste:

Have you tried an eco manicure regime? Do you have any products or recipes that you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

Check out the rest of my eco beauty articles here!

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How to give yourself a non-toxic and eco-friendly manicure
How to give yourself a non-toxic and eco-friendly manicure


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