Study Finds Flame Retardant Chemicals in Nail Polishes—and Inside Women's Bodies

Perfectly polished nails might be more hazardous than you previously thought. Researchers from Duke University and the Environmental Working Group released new information that there could be potential health risks caused by a hazardous chemical found in most polishes. The worst part? This ingredient, TPHP, might not even be listed on the label!

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The recent study conducted, aimed at understanding the bodily effects of the chemical TPHP on nail polish users. TPHP can be found in plastic based products and fire retardants, yet popular polish brands make use of the chemical for its ability to increase the durability of their product. The chemical might be contributing to a better-formulated polish, yet it continues to pose a series of health risks.

Researchers have concluded through recent studies on animals that high exposure to the chemical can lead to hormonal imbalances, and problems with cognitive development and the reproductive system. Researchers believe the chemical might even have the potential to cause weight gain, yet they have not been able to confirm this belief. Regardless, frequent polish users are believed to be at a higher risk of suffering from the health debilitating effects of this chemical. 

In the study conducted by Duke and the EWG, 26 women were tested for levels of TPHP in their bodies after painting their nails. Every woman showed an elevated level (on average 700% increase) of TPHP in her body.

“Nail polish is the only personal care product that has this chemical listed as an ingredient,” says Tasha Stoiber with The Environmental Working Group.

To minimize their exposure, polish users should steer clear of clear polishes because they carry the highest concentration of TPHP. The study is ongoing, so stay tuned to learn more.