What's the Big Difference with 10-Free Polish?
DATE: 03/09/23

What's the Big Difference with 10-Free Polish?

If you read our previous blog post on 5 Non-Toxic Winter Nail Polish Shades, you probably learned two things: 1. sundays nail studio provides the perfect shades for your nails and 2. it is possible to get your manis and pedis without all those toxic chemicals we refuse to accept are in those tiny, colorful bottles. To further research on how sundays promises a line of products that are vegan, cruelty free, and non-toxic, we chatted with founder Amy Lin to find out what “10-free” means in the world of nail polish. Needless to say, Sage + Sound is proud to have sundays as our in-house, non-toxic nail care studio.

Can you explain what "10-free" means in the context of nail polish?

Sundays’ polishes are formed without 10 potentially health-harming chemicals commonly found in nail polish, such as dibutyl phthalate, TPHP, toluene, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, parabens, and tert-butyl hydroperoxide. 

Why was it important to you to create a 10-free brand?

While I was in nail school, I felt strongly about creating a non-toxic, salon-quality product and service that was safe for both clients and employees. I spent a year after I graduated from Columbia University with an MBA, working with a chemist to study the nail care products on the market and to create our own non-toxic nail polish formula, which is sundays’ signature product.

How does a nail polish brand go about creating a "10-free" formula, i.e., is the process different from how a brand like Essie creates?

The process is absolutely different. A nail polish brand such as sundays—its formula is "10-free" because it has gone through multiple tests to make sure its formula is safe for everyone as well as to ensure the quality of the nail polish. "10-free" means that the formula is made without 10 of the most common and controversial chemicals found in most polishes. Sundays doesn't contain these harmful ingredients in its formulation and went through years of research and testing to find healthy alternatives to these ingredients. 

Most nail polish on the market uses harmful chemicals

Here’s a breakdown of each toxic ingredient, and why it was so important to us to make sure that it stays out of your nail polish:

  • Dibutyl phthalate is a respiratory irritant, which poses the most hazard to nail technicians who may become exposed to large amounts.
  • TPHP (Triphenyl phosphate) is a plasticizer, as well as a fire retardant, and studies have linked it to changes in normal hormone function.
  • Toluene is a solvent used in polish to help it dry quickly; the health concerns associated with excessive exposure to this ingredient may include nervous system impairment and immune, kidney, liver, and reproductive effects.
  • Xylene, when exposed to high concentrations in the air, can cause central nervous system depression and headaches.
  • Ethyl tosylamide is banned from use in cosmetics by the European Commission but is still used in the United States. This ingredient is suspected of causing developmental and reproductive toxicity.
  • Camphor is a fragrant resin still included in many nail products, but it can cause headaches, nausea and dizziness in high amounts.
  • Formaldehyde resin can release formaldehyde; the short-term effects of formaldehyde exposure include respiratory and skin irritation. Long-term exposure is suspected to cause cancer.
  • Parabens are a common preservative but are a suspected endocrine disruptor.
  • Tert-butyl hydroperoxide may be toxic to blood, lungs, liver, the respiratory system and the central nervous system.

Most polishes on the market today unfortunately have these harmful chemicals in them, which can impact your health in the long term.

10-Free Nail Polish Doesn’t Use Animal Product

Many people get shocked when they hear that nail polishes actually have animal products in them, meaning they are not vegan. One big ingredient that most companies use is fish scales. This ingredient is used to give the nail polish a shiny quality. Other ingredients that non-vegan polishes use is animal oils and insect shells.

10-Free Nail Polish Makes Your Nails Stronger

Naturally, all the harmful ingredients in regular polishes can make your nails weaker, more brittle and dull. When you take off the nail polish you might notice your nails being extremely dry and pale. If you have white spots on your nails, they’re extremely thin or peeling, you may have to take a break from nail polish, or at least regular nail polish. Many of our clients found that their nails healed when they switched to our nail polish. 

10-Free Nail Polish is Safe For You and Those Around You

Believe it or not, our nail polish is safe for both pregnant women and kids, and also for our nail specialists. If consumed frequently, regular nail polish can have harmful effects on pregnant women and the fetus, and nail techs who are constantly exposed to fumes of regular nail polish can develop serious illnesses like cancer. 

What ingredients are typically excluded from "10-free" nail polish?

Our non-toxic polish formula: butyl acetate, ethyl acetate, nitrocellulose, adipic acid/neopentyl, glycol/trimellitic, anhydride, copolymer, acetyl tributyl citrate, isopropyl alcohol, stearalkonium bentonite, acrylates copolymer, styrene/acrylates copolymer, silica, benzophenone-1, and trimethylpentanediyl dibenzoate. We do not use dibutyl phthalate, TPHP, toluene, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, parabens, and tert-butyl hydroperoxide. 

Is "10-free" nail polish just a trend, or do you think it will become the industry standard?

I think we are getting there. Most nail polishes out there are now at least 3-free, and it's pretty popular to see polish at least free of toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). It is becoming more common to see cleaner beauty products in general, and I have been seeing more nail polish brands stating they are 3-free, 5-free, 7-free, and some even 10-free like us! 

How can consumers ensure that the nail polish they're purchasing is truly "10-free"?

It's important for consumers to review the ingredients described on the products. There are polishes in the market considered "21-free" and consumers might believe that it's healthier than 10-free, but some of those brands still use harmful ingredients such as formaldehyde and tert-butyl hydroperoxide.

It's important to review the ingredients. Sundays brand polish are formulated without the following harmful ingredients polish: dibutyl phthalate, TPHP, toluene, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, parabens, and tert-butyl hydroperoxide.

Sundays also has a non-toxic formula certificate to certify that our products are safe.

You can find sundays studios across New York City and inside of Sage + Sound. Book an appointment or browse online for your next treat—your nails (and your body) will thank you.