The Beauty Of Sustainability: Eco-Friendly Nail Product Roundup

In recent years, there has been a growing demand for eco-friendly and sustainable beauty products. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions and are looking for more natural, non-toxic options when it comes to cosmetics and personal care. The nail product industry is no exception. With concerns over ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene, and synthetic dyes found in traditional nail polishes and treatments, many brands have started to offer sustainable alternatives that use plant-based, non-toxic formulas. Major retailers like Sephora and Douglas have also made commitments to stock more sustainable beauty brands by 2023 (1).

This article provides an overview of the latest eco-friendly nail products that are gentler on both you and the planet. We’ll explore what makes nail products “green,” review top sustainable base and top coats, nail polish colors, removers, and more. We’ll also look at simple tips for an eco-friendly manicure and discuss where the future of sustainable nail products is headed. The goal is to highlight the growing range of options for those looking to make more earth-conscious choices with their nail care routine.

The Issues with Typical Nail Products

The beauty industry has come under scrutiny in recent years for the toxic chemicals commonly found in nail polishes, treatments, and removers. Many mainstream nail products contain ingredients that are known or suspected carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and allergens.

Some of the most concerning chemicals found in typical nail polishes and removers include:

  • Formaldehyde – known carcinogen that can also cause allergic contact dermatitis (Harvard Health)
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) – endocrine disruptor and reproductive toxicant (Women’s Voices for the Earth)
  • Toluene – neurotoxicant that can impair cognitive function (Prity NYC)
  • Camphor – skin irritant and sensitizer
  • Xylene – neurotoxin

Exposure to these chemicals, especially over time with repeated use, raises concerns over links to cancer, reproductive issues, respiratory problems, and more. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in nail products also contribute to indoor air pollution. With fingers to faces and mouths, ingestion of toxins is a risk too.

Beyond health implications for consumers, many ingredients are also hazardous for nail salon workers who handle products regularly. Environmental contamination from chemical waste is another consideration.

What Makes a Nail Product Eco-Friendly?

When searching for eco-friendly nail products, there are a few key things to look for:

Vegan, cruelty-free formulas – Look for products labeled as “vegan” and “cruelty-free.” This means they do not contain animal byproducts and have not been tested on animals.

Natural ingredients – Products containing plant-based and organic ingredients are usually safer and better for the environment than those made with toxic chemicals. Key ingredients to look for are vitamins, oils, and plant extracts.

Sustainable packaging – Many eco-friendly brands use recyclable, compostable, or post-consumer recycled packaging. This reduces waste compared to traditional plastic packaging.

According to Ethical Elephant, eco-friendly nail polishes avoid using the “toxic trio” of chemicals – formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). They also tend to have fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Reading product labels and certifications like the Leaping Bunny cruelty-free logo can help identify truly eco-friendly nail products. With some research, you can find stylish polishes and long-lasting manicures that are gentler on you and the planet.

Top Eco-Friendly Base and Top Coats

When looking for an eco-friendly base and top coat, it’s important to find options made with natural, non-toxic ingredients. Some of the top choices include:

Kapa Nui Nails Base & Top Coat
The Kapa Nui Nails base and top coat is 100% vegan, gluten-free, and made without formaldehyde, toluene, camphor, and other harmful chemicals. It uses water as the base instead of toxic solvents. The formula helps nourish nails and protect polish. Available on Kapa Nui Nails for $19.

Sundays Non-Toxic Top Coat

The water-based top coat from Sundays is designed to protect nail color and add shine. It is 10-free, meaning no formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates, and other chemicals. Get it on Sundays for $18.

Karma Organic Gel-Effect Top Coat
This nourishing top coat from Karma Organic is vegan and cruelty-free. It helps nail polish last longer without chipping. The formula includes vitamins and bamboo extract. Find it on Amazon for around $10.

Best Natural Nail Polish Colors

When it comes to natural nail polish colors, neutral and nude shades are always a safe bet. Here are some of the top eco-friendly nude polish picks:

neutral and nude nail polish shades are eco-friendly options

OPI Bubble Bath

One of the most popular neutral shades of all time, OPI’s Bubble Bath is a soft beige-pink that complements nearly every skin tone. The longwearing formula dries to a creamy, glossy finish.

Essie Ballet Slippers

A subtle pale pink, Essie’s Ballet Slippers is a go-to for a clean, barely-there manicure look. The sheer polish allows your natural nail to show through.

100% Pure Nail Polish in Sands Point

This rich caramel hue from 100% Pure complements olive and deeper skin tones beautifully. The formula is 7-free and made with natural pigments.

Safest Nail Polish Removers

When looking for a safe nail polish remover, it’s best to avoid products with harsh chemicals like acetone and opt for natural, non-toxic options instead. Here are some of the top acetone-free nail polish removers to consider:

Côte Natural Nail Polish Remover
The Côte Natural Nail Polish Remover ( uses a plant-based formula free of acetone, formaldehyde, and other harsh chemicals. It contains aloe vera, vitamin E, and chamomile to remove polish while moisturizing nails and cuticles. The convenient towelettes make for easy, mess-free removal. A pack of 30 towelettes costs $14.

Karma Organic Soy Polish Remover

Karma Organic ( makes a soy-based nail polish remover that is 100% natural and safe for sensitive skin. It removes polish quickly without drying out the nails. A 2 oz bottle costs $10.99.

Zoya Remove Plus Nail Polish Remover
Zoya Remove Plus is a 3-in-1 cleanser, remover, and conditioner that removes polish while nourishing nails. It contains no toluene, formaldehyde, or dibutyl phthalate. A 16 oz bottle costs $10.

When shopping for a natural nail polish remover, look for plant-based ingredients and avoid acetone, toluene, formaldehyde, and phthalates. With safer options available, you can remove polish without harsh chemicals.

Tips for an Eco-Friendly Manicure

Doing your nails in an eco-friendly way takes some small adjustments to your typical manicure routine. Here are some tips for keeping your at-home manicures gentler on the planet:

Use reusable nail files, buffers, and cotton pads instead of disposable ones. Brands like Freon Collective make reusable cotton rounds that work great for removing nail polish.

Give your nails a break between polishes by allowing them to breathe without color for a few days. This prevents excessive chemical exposure from constant polish use.

Ensure proper removal and recycling of old polishes. Use non-acetone removers and dispose of polishes properly when they expire, rather than sending chemicals down the drain.

The Future of Green Nail Products

The eco-friendly nail product market is projected for rapid growth in the coming years, fueled by innovation in natural ingredients and sustainable packaging. According to market research, the global eco-friendly nail polish market will grow at a CAGR of 5.45% between 2023 and 2030, reaching approximately $2.78 billion by the end of the decade.

New natural ingredients like corn, potato, and bamboo extracts are enabling the creation of high-performing polishes that are vegan, cruelty-free, and free of the toxic chemicals found in traditional formulas [1]. Brands are also focusing efforts on recyclable, refillable, and reduced packaging to minimize waste.

Exciting new product developments include peelable nail polishes that dissolve with water, allowing for easier removal, as well as polishes made from bio-sourced materials like wood pulp and algae. Many mainstream brands have also committed to removing toxic ingredients, creating extensive clean nail product lines to appeal to the growing consumer demand for safe, sustainable options.

The Takeaway

This roundup has highlighted several excellent eco-friendly options for base coats, nail polishes, removers, and manicure tips. As we’ve seen, natural nail products avoid toxic ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene, and phthalates commonly found in mainstream polishes [1]. Using eco-friendly nail care is better for your health by reducing exposure to these harmful chemicals that can cause skin irritation, respiratory issues, and other problems [2].

Going green with your manicure is also better for the environment, as typical polishes contain solvents and ingredients that are not biodegradable or eco-friendly. The natural nail products covered here have less impact on the planet.

With so many great options now available, there’s no need to expose yourself or the environment to the toxins found in mainstream nail products. Give some of these eco-friendly polishes, removers, and tips a try for your next manicure!


The following sources were referenced in this article:

  • Green Nails: Eco-Friendly Nail Polish Brands, The Natural Beauty Expert.
  • Eco-Friendly Nail Polish Brands For Clean Mani-Pedis, Byrdie.
  • 10 Of The Best Non-Toxic Nail Polishes, BURO.
  • Natural Nail Polishes & Eco-Friendly Nail Polishes, The Detox Market.
  • 6 Nail Polish Removers That Don’t Use Acetone or Other Harsh Chemicals, Well+Good.

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