Hand with blue nails holding a shell out of a pool

5 Eco-Conscious Nail Varnish Brands to Spice Up Your Next Mani-Pedi

Health & Beauty /


Paint your nails GREEN

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A pop of colour goes a long way – especially when used to decorate your fingers and toes. Nail varnish is a great way to spice up your look, but it’s important you find products that avoid harming you or the planet. We’ve put together a guide for finding the ideal eco nail colours, with tips on labels to look out for, ingredients to steer clear of and brands to fall in love with.

A Guide to Eco Nail Varnish

Ingredients to Avoid

Unfortunately, toxic ingredients are prolific in most nail varnish products – but that doesn’t mean you can’t avoid them. These are some to keep an eye out for on the back of the bottle:

  • Formaldehyde (a well-known carcinogen)
  • Toluene (causes dizziness, numbness and dry skin)
  • Dibutyl phthalate or DBP (linked to endocrine disruption)
  • Triphenyl phosphate or TPHP (also linked to endocrine disruption)
  • Camphor (causes nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath)
  • Xylene (causes headaches)
  • Ethyl tosylamide (many people are unknowingly allergic)
  • Acetone (causes dry skin, sore throat and inflammation)
  • Parabens (disrupts hormones, irritates skin and is a suggested carcinogen)

What Does ‘XX-Free’ Mean?

Another way to check if your nail varnish is free of harmful ingredients is by seeing if the brand is listed as ‘XX-Free’. For example, if a brand claims it is 10-Free, it means its products are free of at least 10 of the commonly harmful ingredients found in nail varnish (see above). While this should give some indication that the product in questions should be better for you and the planet, these claims aren’t regulated by an accredited body. At the end of the day, this label may only suggest that the product is a safer alternative, not an entirely safe one.

Common Labels

Vegan – The brand indicates that no animal-derived ingredients or by-products are used. In nail varnish, common alternatives include guanine (fish scales), shellac and animal-derived keratin.

Cruelty-free – The brand indicates it does not conduct or commission any animal testing on its ingredients, formulations or finished products. The best products claiming this label with be backed up by the likes of Leaping Bunny and PETA.

XX-Free – See above. The brand indicates that it avoids the use of some well-known harmful ingredients that are common in traditional nail varnish formulas.

Eco-Conscious Nail Varnish Brands

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Bottle of light pink nail varnish with black cap

Kester Black

Hero Colour: The Future is Female, €20, kesterblack.com

Australian-based beauty brand Kester Black is B Corp certified and focused on creating products that are cruelty-free, vegan, halal and carbon neutral. The brand’s use of plant-based ingredients means it avoids nasty chemicals, and any new products as of July 2021 are plastic-free. Upholding its commitment to people and planet, Kester Black also continues to donate 2% of all revenue to environmental and social causes. You can take a look at the brand’s many sustainability goals here.

Bottle of sparkly green nail polish with no cap

Zoya

Hero Colour: Apple, £9.95, zoyapolish.co.uk

With a mission to ‘source and implement the safest alternative nail and beauty products in the UK’, Zoya creates varnishes that are cruelty-free, vegan and non-toxic. All of its products are 10-free, meaning they avoid multiple harmful ingredients found in traditional nail varnish (like formaldehyde, parabens and lead), and promise vibrant, long-lasting results.

Bottle of blue nail varnish on blue background

Manucurist Paris

Hero Colour: Ultramarine, £19, manucurist.com

Home to the first ‘clean’ nail varnish, Manucurist creates its gels using vegan formula that is cruelty-free and avoids harmful ingredients like HEMA (the full list of which you can see here). The brand offers a fun range of colours, from zesty oranges to rich blues and beyond.

Bottle of orange nail varnish with black cap

Nailberry

Hero Colour: Decadence, £15, nailberry.co.uk

With roots in London, beauty brand Nailberry offers treatments and varnishes that both decorate and strengthen nail beds. Boasting 12-free products that are also vegan-friendly, cruelty-free and halal, the brand is well-equipped to satisfy your eco-beauty needs.

Bottle of yellow nail varnish with wooden cap

Habit Cosmetics

Hero Colour: Let’s Call It a Chartreuse, £15.95, zeitgeist.london

Founded in 2013 by Aja Frierson, Habit is a US-based beauty brand that champions a trendy selection of nail polish colours. All products are non-toxic, cruelty-free and vegan (as certified by Leaping Bunny and PETA), and made using 75% organic ingredients. To top it all off, packaging is a mix of recycled plastic, FSC-certified paperboard boxes, reusable glass jars and bamboo overcaps.

Featured image: Biel Morro, Unsplash

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