Some nail polishes labeled “non-toxic” still contain high levels of dangerous chemicals, according to a new report by California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control. The report raises questions about the reliability of cosmetics labeling. How can health-conscious consumers navigate the world of beauty products? And are the chemicals as harmful as some say?

Jane Houlihan, senior vice president for research for the Environmental Working Group
Doug Schoon, co-chair of the Nail Manufacturer's Council and president of Schoon Scientific, an industry group that represents makers of nail salon products
Jeffrey Wong, chief scientist at the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

  • Libertas

    It’s not just what women put on their nails. Make-up and sunscreen cause premature aging of the skin. Some lipsticks contain lead, which is a neurotoxin. I expect any day now we’ll hear about radioactive make-up made from California kelp. The more that women use toxic cosmetics, the less healthy and more worn-down they look and the more some think they need such products again to look good: It’s a tragic cycle.

    EWG’s sunscreen report:

    • Libertas

       Typo… Replace last sentence with:

      The more that women use toxic cosmetics, the worse they look and as a consequence some of them use those toxic cosmetics all the more. The result is a downward spiral of appearance but also ample corporate profits.

  • Nancyob6

    Where are these nail care products made?

    • Villageattab

      in the factory near you!  whether they are made here or in china the onus is on those who should regulate the industry.  They are fast asleep and starved of tax money.

  • Chiuchenj

    Miss professional is a major manufacturer ! Why is Doug saying these are small manufacturers?

  • The elephant in the room: all cosmetics in all categories are made using complex, synthesized chemicals. The information on the risks inherent in these chemicals is regulated by EPA, not FDA. Until we stop focusing on the cosmetic industry and hold the chemical industry in the US accountable, this focus on cosmetics is a diversion from the real issue. 

    Unlike cosmetics, household cleaners, laundry detergent, etc. are not even required to list the chemicals used to make them.

    Let’s focus on the real issue – the chemical industry in the US and it’s apparent freedom to do what ever they want with little accountability.

  • Chiuchenj

    What actions will the nail manufacturers do to rebuild public trust? It’s obviously broken right now

  • Jinthebay

    What are the stats? is there a higher rate of cancer and respiratory disease in nail shop workers? This could be more telling. 

  • Chiuchenj

    It seems apparent that the prevalence of toxic chemicals is the root of the health issues that nail salon workers face. Why do the toxic chemicals have to be present in nail products in the first place.

    • My2percent

      Yes, with this in mind, an OSHA representative might have added extra value to the discussion.

  • Vlagorio

    I’m glad we’re pulling chemicals our of cosmetics, perhaps it should be said that acetone alone can be dangerous in high lifetime exposure. Maybe the answer to that is to stop painting your nails.

    • My2percent

      We could stop washing our clothes and cleaning our houses, too. 

  • Hhsd1trail

    Hi Michael,

    I want to disagree with your statement that the fellow commenting from out of state was off topic… All of this OS related to mislabeling & pot environmental regulation enforcement.

    The chemicals are the problem… Venting just sends it into the wider enviironment. A solution? I think not.

    Thank you-
    Stephanie Flaniken

    • Hhsd1trail

      Oops. Is related …. Poor environmental enforcement…

    • My2percent

      The out-of-state caller has very important concerns about fracking and the environment, but this was definitely off-topic.

  • camille cloutier

    Very frustrated with the reluctance of these guests to answer general questions. I understand that these general questions cannot be answered by the content of the study (because it’s scope was very limited). But I also expect guests on Forum to be able, willing, and confident to speak from their broader expertise.

  • Rosalind

    Doug Schoon, who claimed that others (the Environmental Working Group?) “spun” results,  never adequately answered the question about where nail polish is manufactured.  He claimed that the problems were restricted to small companies which manufacture in the United States. He said nothing about the larger companies.  Does he realize that by avoiding answering the question makes his assertions suspect?

  • Augustin Bralley

    Any individual concerned about toxic chemicals present in nail polish and other consumer products can find out their individual levels of exposure with a urine test:

  • Villageattab

    There are horrendous quantities of chemicals out there, a truly savage world, and there are but few who regulate them.  Remember the leaded toys from china?  The FDA had ONE person doing the job of controlling the import of toys!  Tell Mr. Romney who wants to starve the government of more funds.  

  • Liaominmin

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