Written by Jan Walsh//Photography by Beau Gustafson
As an important part of my organic living, I no longer use nail products with triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) and other harmful chemicals. Nor do I need to—with just a little bit of searching, I’ve found fabulous, organic alternatives that look, feel and smell better than many of the most popular nail-polish brands you see in the store.
Chemicals in nail products may leach through your nails and your bloodstream. TPHP is particularly concerning. According to a Duke University and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) study, painting your nails may release this endocrine-disrupting chemical into the body. The study found that women who painted their nails with nail products that included TPHP had a metabolite of the chemical in their bodies 10 to 14 hours later. Their levels of diphenyl phosphate (DPHP), which forms when the body metabolizes TPHP, increased by almost sevenfold.
TPHP has also been used in plastics manufacturing and as a fire retardant in foam furniture. It became the alternative to phthalates, which also have endocrine-disrupting properties and are known to be toxic to the reproductive system. However, it’s not clear that TPHP is a better alternative due to evidence suggesting that TPHP may affect hormone regulation, metabolism, reproduction and development.
I have switched to two brands of polish, Karma Hues and Zoya. Zarma Organic polishes are free of TPHP and contain no toluene, formaldehyde or DBP. They are chip resistant, durable, and with no harsh odors, they are available in glossy, matte and glow-in-the-dark shades. The non-yellowing formula is cruelty free (not tested on animals), and packaging is 100 percent recyclable. Zoya polishes are vegan friendly and free of TPHP, formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, and camphor. Both are good choices for women who have allergies, skin sensitivities, are pregnant or planning to be. I also use Zoya Remove Plus to remove polish, which also moisturizes, nourishes and fortifies. And I use Alabama’s own 1818 Farms Cuticle Polish.
But just when I thought I had all my nail-product bases covered, I considered the hand sanitizer that manicurists typically use on clients’ hands and their own at the start of a manicure. I could not find an organic one that came in a purse-size container, so I asked my son, Ross McCay, to make one. He makes several other organic cleaning and cosmetic products for himself and our family. Among them is his organic hand cream that is made of unrefined shea butter, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic virgin coconut oil, organic beeswax, vitamin E, Frankincense essential oil and Myrrh essential oil. Finally, I have a hand sanitizer that not only cleanses but does not penetrate my skin with chemicals but with essential oils instead, leaving them moisturized—not stripped of my body’s own natural oils. It includes aloe vera gel, filtered water, vitamin E, tea tree oil, and lavender.
My manicurist and pedicurist, Donna Robinson (of Donna’s Nail Haven located in the former Spa Moksha location, off Highway 280) has been so impressed by the products that she has purchased them for her customers, who also prefer a chemical-free manicure and pedicure