Natural Nail Polish

Natural Nail Polish

I get questions all the time about Natural Nail Polish.  People usually refer to the words, non-toxic nail polish.  To be honest, I avoid using non-toxic and nails in the same sentence.  I don’t think nail polish is horrible and I use it myself.  I love the look of freshly polished nails.  I don’t live in a bubble, nor do I claim too.  I want to live as healthy of a lifestyle as possible for sure!  But I also want to enjoy my life and not constantly be “afraid” of chemicals.  It really comes down to making an informed decision for yourself.  I used to really avoid anything and everything when I first went green- nothing was safe!  Then I slowly came out of my shell and realized I can’t live that way forever.  It’s about balance!  They say stress is linked to so many health issues- I agree.  Sometimes just relaxing and enjoying life is better medicine for us than avoiding everything.

That being said, I do realize that some people are highly sensitive to nail polish still or just want to avoid using it.  I respect that as well.  My goal as a blogger is to give you the information you need to make an informed decision for you and your family.  What works for me, might not always work for you.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way let’s talk natural nail polish.  When I say natural nail polish here’s what I’m talking about…

Ingredients I Avoid in Nail Polish:

  • Parabens
  • Sulfates
  • Formaldehyde
  • Formaldehyde Resin
  • Camphor
  • Dibutyl Phthalate
  • Toluene
  • Triphenyl Phosphate
  • Xylene
  • Bismuth Oxychloride
  • Ethyl Tosylamide

Aila filled me in on a few things happening in marketing nail polishes to the natural market too.  A lot of companies will start saying 10-free or 11-free- not that it’s bad but many ingredients they include in their polishes have not been used in nail polishes for years.  It’s a marketing tactic used by many companies to appeal to a natural demographic.

Water based polishes are often touted as being the best option.  However, after trying several brands, they still weren’t giving me the same nail look I used to have with conventional polishes.  I mean who wants their nail polish chipping in a few hours?  What’s the point?!  I’ve tried a lot of “natural” nail polishes and I really have come to love Aila the best.  The formula is so smooth, it doesn’t get gunky, they’re as clean as they come while still being effective and they’re color range is so chic!  I don’t feel I have to sacrifice at all!

I especially love their Better than Gel top coat.  It rates a 1 on EWG and locks in your nail color so well you would think you’re wearing a gel polish but you’re not!  You have to try it!  My other favorites from their nail polish line are:

Room 212- a rich plum color, perfect for fall and winter.

Bodega- the red that looks good on everyone.

I’m Naked, I’m Naked! the perfect barley there nude.

Namaste- a pretty neutral grey tone.

I wanted to dive a little deeper into natural nails to really answer all of your questions.  So I did an interview with the founder of Aila Beauty, Cary Gannon, to answer some of your most asked questions about natural nails!  I thought what better person to answer these questions than someone who owns a natural nail company.  I so loved hearing her thoughtful responses and sharing her knowledge with us about natural nail care.

*Interview with Aila Beauty Founder- Cary Gannon:


1. Is there such a thing as non-toxic nail polish?

Yes and no. I love this question because truth be told ANYTHING (natural or man made) has the potential to be toxic. Natural chemicals can be more dangerous than man-made chemicals. Mother Nature is our best chemist and She can kill you in a heart beat.

Essential oils are ‘natural’ but contain anywhere from 80-300 chemicals per oil and can be toxic when used improperly. Water is another natural chemical that can be deadly if used improperly. Examples of this are the frat boys I see in the ER every year who have been dared to drink a gallon of water in an hour and they die of cardiac arrest FROM WATER.

It seems the green beauty industry is hell-bent on defining toxicity in the binary matrix of toxic vs. non-toxic when there is soooooo much more to it than this from a scientific and medical perspective. There are some bloggers and self-proclaimed ‘green beauty experts’ who read a few obscure articles and proclaim the toxicity of a beauty product when the reality is that toxicity is so much more than one specific natural or man-made chemical.

In my view toxicity should be viewed through 4 different lenses…and thus begins your dissertation…

1) The first question we need to ask is ‘Is the product toxic to the SPECIFIC BODY PART it is being applied to’?

If we are using nail polish as the example then the question is ‘does the nail polish damage the nail specifically?’ We want a nail product that does not strip the nail of all the natural oils or increase rate of fracture of the nail. We want a product that does not increase the bacterial or fungal bio-burden and make our nails more susceptible to fungus. We want a product that is easily removed and does not weaken the nails.

Nails are very different than skin. Skin absorbs way more than nails. Nails have pores and will expand and contract just like skin but they do not absorb chemicals the same way as skin does (similar to hair). You can apply certain chemicals to nails that do not damage the nails and do not systemically absorb into the body. These same chemicals could not be applied to skin because the skin is a different organ all together. Does this make sense? Another example we could use are essential oils. Some oils are safe for the skin but others are toxic to the skin. They are organ specific.

2) The 2nd question we need to ask ourselves about a beauty product is ‘Is the product systemically absorbed and potentially damaging the the ORGANISM AS A WHOLE?’.  Meaning, does the chemical absorb through the nail or the skin and enter the blood stream and potentially create damage to the entire body. Here is where nail polish, skin products, beauty products etc. become scary.

An example of this are parabens used as a preservative in beauty products. We believe that these are systemically absorbed through the skin and we know there is an increase in paraben levels in breast cancer tumors. We are fortunate that most molecules are not able to penetrate the nail plate and be systemically absorbed thus making chemicals that could be systemically toxic irrelevant when applied to the nail.

3) The third question about toxicity is PERSON specific. Meaning there are chemicals that are ‘non-toxic’ that 99% of people can use and be fine but there are always certain people who will be allergic or intolerant to a chemical.

Peanut butter is technically ‘non-toxic’ in every way BUT if you are allergic to peanuts it will kill you very quickly. This is the same for some beauty products. Certain chemicals are considered totally safe and completely non-toxic but if a specific person has an intolerance to it then the product is toxic to the INDIVIDUAL.  I use essential oils as an example here again. Most people can use essential oils without issue BUT some people are highly allergic to some essential oils thus the oil is TOXIC to the INDIVIDUAL.

4) Lastly, can we use the ‘toxic’ component of the chemical to our advantage? Believe it or not we do this ALL the TIME. Even in beauty products.

One of the first examples of using toxicity to our advantage is lip plumping products. Some of these products contain natural chemicals (usually essential oils) to create the ‘bee sting’ appearance of the lips to enlarge the lips and make them look fuller and redder. The chemicals in these products are technically non-toxic but when applied to the mucous membrane of the lip create a toxic reaction that we use to our benefit.

Another example is Botox. Botox is a 100% NATURALLY occurring chemical that is produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. It can be found in honey. If we encounter this chemical in nature it causes death by paralysis but we have found a way to use this ‘toxic’ natural chemical to our advantage in medicine. The obvious use is in relaxing wrinkles but we also use this to treat migraines, contracted muscularture in Cerebral Palsy, hyperhidrosis etc. Botox is technically toxic but if we use it properly can be non-toxic.

This is how I view all chemicals. My belief is that it is a mistake to put every chemical in a toxic vs. non-toxic matrix because there is so much more than that.

2. What are the most toxic ingredients people should avoid in nail polish?

I guess to me the toxic ingredients that people should avoid in nail polish would be chemicals that are toxic to nails or absorbed through the nail and toxic to the body.

Other than the chemicals listed on our website I consider acrylic nails and gel nails to be highly toxic to the nails specifically. These chemicals literally remove layers of the nails each and every time they are removed and terribly weaken the nails. It takes 6-9 months for fingernails to regenerate and 9-12 months for toenails to regenerate so you cannot attain healthy nails for this amount of time after wearing acrylic or gel.

Systemically I would say avoid all polishes with TPHP in them. TPHP is an endocrine disruptor and has been proven to absorb through the nail bed and enter your blood stream.

3. I’ve often heard that water based nail polish is better than solvent- is this true?

No. I’m sure that people who firmly believe water based polishes would disagree but my answer is a firm no. Water does several things that are unhealthy for our nails and our bodies.

First and foremost water harbors bacteria, yeast, fungus, mold and disease. Water is the perfect environment for bacteria etc. to proliferate and reproduce. Water based polishes will grow bacteria, yeast, mold etc. UNLESS they are mixed with a ton of preservatives to prevent bacterial growth. If the preservatives are not accurately measured then the polish will start to grow bacteria in the bottle. AILA’s formula is 100% bacteria free and will not grow bacteria.

We are COVERED in bacteria, yeast, fungus mold etc. and every time we touch our finger nails or toe nails with the polish brush and then replace the brush in the bottle we are adding bacteria to the bottle of polish. If there is not the correct amount of preservatives in the polish to kill the bacteria then the water based polish potentially spreads disease and the bottle of polish essentially becomes a large petrie dish. Bacteria from one person will grow in the bottle and then the next person using the polish is exposed to the bacteria.

Second, some water based polishes say they are healthy but at closer look their other ingredients reveal that they contain ACRYLIC. The polishes are water based and function well but acrylic is very damaging to the nail.

Third, water softens and weakens the nails increasing their rate of fracture. Overexposure to water is not healthy for skin OR nails. AILA advocates a dry manicure system for this very reason. We don’t want to do anything that weakens the nail. Dry manicures are not new technology and it is well established that applying water to the nails weakens them.

4. Having worked on nails for a time as a cosmetologist, my concern was the smell too.  Does the smell of nail polish warrant concern or is it just being aware of proper ventilation?

It depends on the product. The smell from AILA’s formula is butyl acetate which is an organic compound found in fruits. It isn’t toxic unless the person is sensitive to it. There are some chemicals in certain nail products that should not be inhaled long term. Most of these chemicals are associated with acrylic nail salons. Ventilation can be helpful but is not fully protective.

5. Should you avoid wearing nail polish when pregnant or nursing? (I get this question a lot from readers) 

As a rule, I always refer these ladies back to their doctors. We should never offer our approval for any products for pregnant or nursing mothers because the legal liability is far too high. You definitely do not want to be the person who told a pregnant mother that they can use any product because if anything is wrong with their baby you will have liability. The truth is that every woman wants to have a perfect baby but not every woman gets to have a perfect baby. Most of the time this is through no fault of their own. It’s best to stay clear of this question.

6. Should people be as concerned with nail polish removers as polishes?

Yes. Humans actually produce our own acetone and it is typically present in blood and in urine. Diabetics, pregnant women, nursing mothers and children have higher levels of acetone so in proper amounts it is not toxic to humans systemically. It does however desiccate the nails and remove the nails’ natural oils. When nails don’t have enough oil they break and fracture more easily.   I prefer AILA’s 3-in-1 natural soy nail polish remover with vitamins A,C & E and Argan Oil to nourish and strengthen the nails.

7. What are some tips or advice when wanting a manicure at a nail salon but don’t have the option of a natural nail salon. Are there ways to avoid toxins?

Skip the soaking and go straight for a dry manicure/pedicure. Soaking the nails in water expands the pores of the nail and the skin. All the chemicals they use to ‘sterilize’ the water are immediately absorbed into the blood stream and enter your body. The soaking expands the nail plate and weakens the nails increasing the rate of fracture and breakage of the nail plate. Lastly the soaking expands the nails. The nails eventually contract back down to their normal size but the contracting causes micro-fractures in the manicure and the manicure or pedicure will chip sooner and won’t last as long.

I also recommend taking your own base coat, polish and top coats. Some salons will ‘water-down’ their polishes and when they do that they grow bacteria.

8. What makes Aila different than other nail polish companies?

Our team and our commitment to constantly improve our products. We can have the best product in the world but if our team isn’t committed to each other and to our customers then we will never succeed. Plus our names are hilarious and all of them have some sort of embarrassing story behind them LOL!!!

Did you get your questions answered?  Have any others?  Leave me a comment below on what your favorite natural nail polish is!

Best of Green Beauty 2017

Best of Green Beauty 2017

Back by popular demand we are so excited for our second annual Best of Green Beauty 2017!  This was such a hit last year, that my girl Lisa from This Organic Girl and I had to do it again, giving you only the best of the best.

We had three criteria when choosing products:

1. We had to love it.

2. Had to be clean(duh).

3. And of course above all it had to work- no compromises.

It’s easy to get lost in the sea of products these days- even green beauty products. We wanted to bring you products that are tried and true and live up to the hype!  We both have tried a ton of products in our day as bloggers and these are straight up standouts.  Products we go back to again and again because they’re that good!

After all you shouldn’t have to compromise when transitioning to green beauty.  The game has changed friends and green beauty has got it going on!  We don’t feel like we’re sacrificing at all with these products.  If anything they perform better than their conventional ones.

Get ready to hang with the stars because the Best of Green Beauty 2017 is here!  And don’t forget to head to Instagram for a chance to win all this loot!

(Random Order)

1. OSMIA Hand Soaps-

Suzi – These hands soaps scream luxe! They are so beautiful you hardly want to use them, but then you smell them and you can’t help yourself. Bar soaps in the past could seem boring and old school but Osmia has taken a simple bar soap and turned it into a must have luxury product! The perfect gift anytime of year. My fave scent is the coffee mint!

Lisa – If you have an appreciation for artisan formulators who not only perfect their craft but take it to the next level with thoughtful packaging and presentation then look no further than OSMIA. Not only are these soaps handmade, they are formulated with organic, wildcrafted, conflict-free, top shelf ingredients. It’s not uncommon for a batch of OSMIA soap to adorn $1,000 worth or organic essential oils. AND these soaps are cured two weeks longer than industry standard making them dense and long lasting. Let’s just say my heart skips a beat every time I open a new bar. Suzi says her fave is coffee mint which is next on my list. So far my fave is Milky Rose.

Snag an Osmia soap here!

2. Max and Me Oils Circle of Protection Body Oil-

Suzi – Let’s just say the moment I used this oil I knew I was going to be hooked! This body oil is the best of the best. It comes in a dark bottle that helps preserve the oil. The smell is amazing, with notes of jasmine, rose and magnolia. My skin feels so hydrated but without the greasiness, just supple and smooth. I can’t get enough- already used up two bottles!

Lisa – Three words: Max and Me knows oils. I’ve tried several of their face and body oils and they are all out of this world. We chose Circle of Protection as our #1 pick but really, any of their body oils take skin nourishment to the next level. Smooth, fast absorbing, rich in color with a whisper of fragrance, this oil is frankly a stroke of brilliance. The base of Circle of Protection is a blend of certified organic Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil (oil expressed from the kernels of this African tree), wildcrafted Marula Oil and certified organic Musk Rose Seed Oil – scented with a blend of essential oils. Light, nutty and fruity, this oil will bring you to your knees.

Grab your body oil here!

3. Aila Beauty Better Than Gel Nail Polish-

Suzi – This nail polish takes the cake when it comes to longevity. You put it on as a top coat after applying nail polish. You’ll be amazed how your manicure lasts! The kicker? It rates a 1 on EWG!

Lisa – I picked this up on a whim when I needed a new top coat and with no expectations I brought it to the salon for a mani/pedi. No joke, my pedi lasted a week longer than any pedi I’ve ever gotten. #truth And it’s cleaner than most nontoxic nail polishes!

Snag your Better than Gel here!

4. Josh Rosebrook Hair Spray

Suzi – This is a staple and must have at all times in my beauty routine. It’s the best natural hair spray I’ve come across in green beauty- it works and works well! My hair is fine and thin and this doesn’t weigh my hair down but gives it a lift. I can even brush out my hair after using it the day before and my hair is even better! Did I mention this comes in a travel size bottle as well?! I stock up on both the full size and travel size. My hubs is even hooked too! Say hello to your new favorite!

Lisa – Let’s be honest. I don’t have to buy too many beauty products these days. But this gem!? I literally buy it for myself like 4x a year. I have curly hair so every time I wash + diffuse, I finish with Josh Rosebrook’s hairspray. No ifs, ands or buts about it. You can use it lightly to maintain volume and control fly-aways or layer it for a strong hold. This is hands down the best hairspray green beauty has to offer. And just when you thought the world couldn’t get any better, try and pick your chin up off the floor when you look at the ingredients and wonder how Josh can lock your waves into place using brown rice, yuca starch and glycerin (all certified organic of course).

Get your hair spray here!

5. Mahalo The Bean Antioxidant Mask-

Suzi – This mask smells amazing and truly gives you a glow after using. It helps to even out skin tone more than any others I’ve used! It hydrates and detoxes but doesn’t dry your skin out. This mask instantly transports you to the island of Hawaii where it’s made by hand. The amount of dedication that goes into each batch is truly amazing! You won’t be disappointed!

Lisa – From start to finish the entire Bean experience is next level skincare. First, be still my heart with their hand carved glass-in-wood packaging. Next, raw + organic ingredients sourced from co-ops, biodynamic farms (as well as homegrown) are thoughtfully handcrafted in Kauai, Hawaii. This chocolate creamy mask will transform your skin. And I don’t say that lightly. I was converted the day it evened and brightened my sunburned cheeks and forehead. Best mask of the year right here!

Get your mask on here!

6. Hush + Dotti Mascara-

Suzi – This mascara is an all around winner. It gives my lashes separation, length and doesn’t come off during the day. Plus, no irritation at all! It gets better the more you use it too! The formula gets better after some air has gotten to it. Give it two weeks and you’ll have vixen lashes for days!

Lisa – I think every girl would agree with me. It’s a “lashes or bust” world and we are just living in it. Lashes tie a whole look together and Hush + Dotti does not disappoint. This formula lengthens like the best of ’em and with a couple of coats your will have va va voom volume that will stop anyone in their tracks.

Grab your mascara here!

7. Agent Nateur Holi Rose Deodorant-

Suzi – This deodorant takes the cake for best natural deodorant. It goes on so smooth, no scraping your underarms anymore, it smells amazing and best of all- it works! I can put it on and get two days wear out of it- smelling fresh! I’ve had no irritation either!

Lisa – This deo does it all. Eliminates odor, goes on smooth and keeps me dry. Yeah I said it. This formula keeps me dryer than any other natural formula out there and not only does it eliminate odor, it actually makes me smell like roses. Oh and I used a whole stick without experiencing any irritation.

Snag your deodorant here!

8. LIVE Botanical Honey Rose Cleansing Mask-

Suzi – This mask is everything! I use it everyday in the morning to wake my skin up. I put it on when I’m brushing my teeth and then rinse it off after. It’s my cleanser and mask in one. It gives my skin a pick me up and glow for the rest of the day! The exfoliant in the mask isn’t harsh at all- which I love. Gentle enough to use everyday. Your skin will thank you! Did I mention it’s only $28?! Carolyn the founder really knows her stuff and takes great lengths to make sure the products are made with the best of the best.

Lisa – Suzi and I met LIVE Botanical formulator Carolyn at iBE Dallas and we were both so impressed with this up and coming brand. Her sourcing is crazy clean and her passion for formulating is palpable. But better than any of that is her Honey Rose Cleansing Mask. This mask exfoliates and cleans in two ways – with herbal grains (manual) and fruit enzymes (chemical). And it’s super versatile. You can use it as a mask and let it sit or you can use it immediately as a cleanser/exfoliator. Either way, get ready to GLOW girl!

Grab your Luna mask here!

9. Maya Chia Highlight of the Day-

Suzi – This illuminating serum is a staple in my makeup routine. It instantly gives my skin a glow and lights up my whole complexion. I love the color After Hours, it wakes up tired skin and yet looks natural. I mix mine with foundation or just apply it on top.

Lisa – Anytime my makeup doubles as skincare, I’m in. But when it surpasses pro-lines in both performance and health….there’s nothing left to do but shout it from the rooftops! The Highlight of the Day comes in three “colors” and I love them all. Each brings a certain je ne sais quoi to my look. I love it for my cheek bones, Cupid’s Bow, bridge of my nose and if I want to get jiggy with it, a little mixed into my moisturizer for my décolletage too.

Snag your Highlight of the Day here!

10. Kjaer Weis KW Red Lipstick-

Suzi – This red lipstick is the quintessential red color for everyone. It’s a classic hands down. I love that with one swipe I can transform my look from ho hum to next level. The formula is so good too. It has a weighty feel for a lipstick formula and stays put on the lips all day. You’ll feel like a goddess carrying around this lipstick! The packaging is so chic too!

Lisa – This red looks good on both warm or cool skin tones and takes your look from subtle to bold in just a few strokes. If you’ve never found a red that works for you..look no further than KW Red. My favorite thing about this lipstick (okay I have two fave things) is it’s matte so it wont move. It literally stays put all day and I love that I don’t have to worry about getting it on my teeth or it smudging onto my skin. I also love the packaging here. The lipstick tube sits heavy in my hand and is like a piece of jewelry for my bag. It’s also refillable so when you run out, you can stock up next time (or change shades) for almost half the price.

Get your Kjaer Weis Lipstick here!

11. True Botanicals Shampoo and Conditioner-

Suzi – Want a natural shampoo and conditioner that makes your hair feel clean all the time? This is it! These are game changers when it comes to giving your hair the cleanest feeling possible. No more greasy hair from natural shampoos that don’t work! I have fine/thin hair and this works amazing for my hair. Lisa has thick curly hair and she loves it as well! Bottom line- it works all around! My hair has never felt cleaner using a natural shampoo- they nailed the formula.

Lisa – I looked far and wide, high and low and almost gave up on ever having that clean hair feeling again (sans toxins) until I met True Botanicals. Seriously. Not only does this formula clean my hair (like it truly CLEANS) but it also leaves my scalp moisturized and nourished. No itchiness or dryness from the winter season. This duo is my dessert island “must take with me” pick. True Botanicals also has a subscription option where you can select the frequency at which your items get delivered and you save 10%! Every 8 weeks is perfect for me and I adjust as I go because I don’t use conditioner as fast as I use shampoo.

Grab your shampoo and conditioner here!

12. Khus Khus Sans Age Face Serum-

Suzi – This face oil is so soothing. I put it on my skin and it instantly absorbs, giving it a supple feel. No greasy residue left behind, plus I wake up with perfectly hydrated skin. A newfound fave! I love how calming this serum is too with the blue tansy helping to soothe skin. Say goodbye to redness and ruddy skin and hello to bright and even skin!

Lisa – I love KHUS + KHUS face serums. I’ve tried their Sans Age and Blossom and both are magnificent. Sans Age has the slightest blue tint to it and smells like Blue Tansy. Made with all organic + sustainably wild crafted oils and CO2 extracts, KHUS + KHUS doesn’t play when it comes to using only the best ingredients. I love how this oil makes my face feel: supple, plump and well fed.

Grab your face serum here!

Ok, I want to hear from you!  Have you used any of the Best of Green Beauty 2017?  What did you think?

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