It may be simple, but sometimes a fresh mani-pedi is just the thing you need to give you a boost of confidence. Nail polish is a great way to practice self-care and to express yourself, and you can easily match your nails with your favorite outfit, your mood, or a given occasion. Most of us have at least a few bottles of polish on hand, but you might be surprised to learn that they contain more than just a pop of color. Looking to be more sustainable with your purchases? Some of the best eco-friendly nail polish comes from brands that are environmentally responsible while still providing a beautiful manicure.
Taking a little extra time to take care of yourself may seem like a small thing, but it can make a big difference. With recent years making it possible for many to spend more time at home, research suggests that this long overdue lesson may finally be sinking in. According to a new survey of 2,000 Millennial and Gen Z Americans, nearly three out of four respondents report that they’re prioritizing themselves and their own needs for the first time in a long time. The survey analyzed the ins and outs of the self-care routines for people under 40 and discovered that nine in 10 respondents have a set routine that takes about an hour every day.
Self-care may even have a tangible impact on your physical health. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh report that middle-aged women who regularly practice self-compassion appear to be at a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This trend even held up among a group of middle-aged women regardless of additional risk factors considered warning signs for cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and cholesterol levels. If a woman was kind to herself, study authors say, she was less likely to develop heart disease.
Painting your nails is a quick and easy way to show yourself a little extra love. But unfortunately, the toxic chemicals in many commonly available products may be doing both you and the planet more harm than good. In fact, research shows that manicurists and other nail salon workers that spend significant time around these products face dangerous health risks, including cancer, comparable to people who work in oil refineries, a recent study finds.
Thankfully, there are plenty of products on the market that say no to dangerous chemicals and yes to eco-friendly ingredients that will love you back. But if you’re new to natural products, you may be wondering if they can do the trick as well as your old favorites. That’s why StudyFinds did the research for you, searching the internet for expert reviews on the best eco-friendly nail polish brands on the market. This list includes the most frequently recommended products, but of course, if you have a favorite that we missed, be sure to let us know in the comments below!
The List: Best Eco-Friendly Nail Polish Brands, According to Experts
1. Ella + Mila
Our top pick may look familiar. That’s because you can likely find Ella + Mila polishes on shelves at your local pharmacy — no need to special order! “Ella + Mila is an OG eco nail brand that’s free of chemicals and harsh ingredients, as well as animal products,” says Green Matters. “It’s also cruelty-free and made in the U.S. (meaning lower transportation emissions), and you can find Ella + Mila’s colors at Target, Amazon, or at most major drug stores nationwide.”
“You can rest assured the nail polish from Ella + Mila is actually vegan and cruelty-free because it’s certified by PETA. Plus, since it’s a 7-free nail polish, it doesn’t contain dangerous ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, and camphor,” adds Earth Friendly Tips. “The quick-drying polish is made in the United States and comes in a wide range of trendy and fun colors. You can also get all types of finishes, such as matte, glitter, holographic, jelly, neon, metallic, and shimmer.”
You won’t need to miss out on your favorite nail trends by switching to Ella + Mila. As Eco Friendly Habits says, “the brand is indeed committed to creating fashion-forward products without compromising your health. This 7-free nail polish is quick-drying and with plenty of shine. The brand has a passion for color and hence releases new, on-trend colors often.”
2. Piggy Paint
Designed with little hands in mind, Piggy Paint is a great polish for the whole family. With an ingredients list you can feel good about using on your own children’s fingers, this brand offers a peace of mind that isn’t commonly associated with other options. “The bottle says it all: ‘natural as mud,’” explains Good Housekeeping. “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.”
“Piggy Paint is non-toxic, virtually odorless, and free of ALL harsh chemicals due to their water based nail polish,” adds The Honest Consumer. “The nail polish dries to a hard finish that doesn’t wash or peel off making it perfect for kids.”
From eco-conscious shoppers, Piggy Paint gets two thumbs up. “Piggy Paint is kid- and planet-safe. It’s all VOC-, harsh chemical-, and cruelty-free,” says Green Matters. “Everything is vegan, all orders are packaged in biodegradable starch peanuts that dissolve in water, and the boxes are reused before being repurposed as packing material.”
If you love changing up your nails, Zoya is the brand for you. With tons of colors to choose from and a tried-and-true eco-friendly formula, it’s hard to go wrong. “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,” explains Good Housekeeping. “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 is also a trailblazer in the world of eco-friendly nail polish. “Zoya is the first Big 10-Free, breathable nail polish created specifically for extended wear on natural nails,” says Sustainably Chic. “It was made by Zoya in her salon when she was pregnant, and she wanted a healthier formula for her, her staff and her clients.”
“Forget 8-free, Zoya nail polishes are 10-free, meaning they’re the perfect choice for anyone who is pregnant, or just wants to make more health-conscious choices,” adds Zero Waste Memoirs. “Zoya takes back bottles for recycling and encourages customers to mail in their old or used-up bottles (even from other brands) for discounts on healthier formulas.”
Another easy find, Tenoverten can be purchased at Target and on Amazon. This brand also goes beyond making your nails look pretty and packs a powerful strengthening punch with a list of nail-healthy ingredients.”Tenoverten contains horsetail leaf extract, essential oils, vitamin E and aloe to care for and protect nails,” lists Sustainably Chic. “All Tenoverten’s nail colors are Cruelty Free, Salon Tested, Vegan, Recyclable, Paraben Free, Phthalate Free, Silicone Free, Sulfate Free & Naturally Scented! You can even find this brand over at Target.”
“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,” adds Good Housekeeping. “Fun fact: Each shade of Tenoverten nail lacquer is named after the streets of New York, home to the two founders of the brand.”
If you’d also like to keep extra trash out of the landfill, Tenoverten has already thought of a solution. As Zero Waste Memoirs explains, “you can return used bottles (or even partially used bottles from other brands) back to their salons to be recycled (and/or disposed of when it comes to leftover polish) responsibly.”
Rounding out our list is this familiar drugstore favorite. But while they may look similar, this polish is a far cleaner alternative to the old bottle you probably have sitting in your bathroom. “It’s important to note that not every option from Sally Hansen is a 10-free polish. However, if you’re looking for a good non-toxic option, check out their Good.Kind.Pure collection,” suggests Earth Friendly Tips. “This nail polish collection isn’t just 10-free, or even 13-free. In fact, it’s free of an incredible 16 chemicals! Good.Kind.Pure is also the first plant-based and completely vegan product from the brand.”
“Sally Hansen’s Good.Kind.Pure line features 35 plant-based and 100 percent vegan nail polish colors that are inspired by nature. The formula contains no formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, xylene, acetone, phthalates (including dbp), camphor, parabens, ethyl tosylamide, triphenyl phosphate (tpp), animal-derived ingredients, styrene, bisphenol a glycol ether of series e (glycol ethers derived from ethylene oxide), nonylphenol ethoxylate, or sulfates,” lists Green Matters. “As a plus, the brushes are vegan.”
Make sure to check before you buy to see if your Sally Hansen polish is made with this cleaner formula, but you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it. It’s widely available alongside the rest of the brand, meaning most places you look will have some shades to choose from. “This is a brand you will recognize and probably own quite a few bottles of. If you buy nail polish at the drugstore, it’s great to have more eco-friendly options,” adds Sustainably Chic.
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