A beautiful coat of nail polish is one of the staples of grooming for most women and few would suspect that wearing it can adversely affect their health. But recent studies show that this seemingly harmless product can potentially lower women’s chances of conceiving by disrupting their hormonal balance. This won’t sound far-fetched once you consider the mixture of toxic chemicals that you put on your nails regularly. A lot of cosmetics, grooming and body care products include chemicals like xenohormones and some of them can actually imitate estrogen in the body. Balanced hormones go a long way in ensuring optimal fertility health and help you get pregnant. Xenohormones can affect the normal hormone levels in the body and cause hormonal imbalances. Nail polishes, removers and the like can produce a strong hormonal effect on women due to their wide range of toxic ingredients.
How does nail polish affect fertility?
Researchers have identified a cocktail of chemicals, like toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate, in nail polishes that can harm fertility and cause birth defects. They are also of high concern for salon workers who are constantly exposed to these toxic ingredients. Studies indicate that working in salons is associated with reproductive health issues such as pregnancy complications, premature delivery, and underweight babies.
1. Toluene serves as a solvent for the nail pigment and lends a smooth finish. It can disrupt your menstrual cycle and increase the chance of miscarriage.
2. Formaldehyde acts as a nail-hardening agent and is used in spite of being a carcinogen.
3. Phthalates have been associated in various studies with lower rates of pregnancy, complications like anaemia, toxaemia, and preeclampsia, and a higher risk of miscarriage. In nail polishes, dibutyl phthalate(DBP) is used to provide flexibility. However, it was officially listed as a developmental toxin and banned from cosmetics in Europe. Various cosmetic brands consequently substituted DBP with an apparently healthier organophosphate option named triphenyl phosphate (TPHP or TPP).
Some recent research suggests that triphenyl phosphate, which is used in place of DBP to enable polish to adhere to nails, forms a new chemical called diphenyl phosphate, or DPHP when absorbed. A study published in October 2015 in the Environment International journal, observed that all of the 26 female subjects who participated had TPHP in their urine following just one application of conventional nail polish found in most drugstores and departmental stores. TPHP is currently under scrutiny as well for toxicity and it is believed that this chemical is most likely a developmental toxin too. Triphenyl phosphate has already been listed as an endocrine-disrupting chemical by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
Even nail polish removers carry toxic chemicals such as acetone, toluene, methyl methacrylate and ethyl acetate. Considering the risks involved, it is highly advisable for pregnant women or women trying to conceive to avoid using nail polish and nail polish removers till childbirth. Women also need to avoid frequent visits to nail salons or hair salons to avoid airborne environmental toxins and high phthalate exposure. After all, a momentary treat may prove to be a lifetime’s bane.