Toxic Metals in Nail Polishes, But Not on the Labels

A new School of Public Health study is the first to evaluate metals in the new generation of metallic nail polish finishes, as well as on nail salon surfaces and in the bodies of nail salon workers.

Published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, the study identified toxic metals including antimony and aluminum in many of the sampled polishes, even though these polishes did not disclose them as ingredients.

While most polishes did not have metals at dangerous levels, the researchers found that some nail polish finishes had levels of antimony far exceeding cosmetics guidelines.

“These levels are not toxic themselves, but contribute to overall exposures to workers and consumers using nail polishes,” says study lead author Diana Ceballos, assistant professor of environmental health. Read more about JPB Senior Fellow Diana Ceballos.