How to Add Chemical-Free Holiday Sparkle to Your Nail Care Routine

How to Add Chemical-Free Holiday Sparkle to Your Nail Care Routine
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Nothing complements a well put together wardrobe like gorgeous nails. Perfectly manicured hands and feet make a world of difference when it comes to how you look and feel. But the nail care world has quite a dark side in the way of chemical overuse. All it takes is a singe whiff from a bottle of nail polish or nail polish remover to realize that this stuff is potent. If you’re looking for a nail care routine that’s both safe and beautiful, we’re here to help.

What’s So Scary About Nail Care Products?

According to Paige Padgett, author of Green Beauty Rules, phthalates, formaldehyde, camphor, and toluene are some of the worst offenders in nail care products.

What’s more, researchers at Duke University and Environmental Working Group found that some of the chemicals that have been used to replace phthalates, a known endocrine disruptor, may have similar impacts on the body. The study published in Environment International, showed that women still had triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) present in their bodies 14 hours after coming into contact with it in nail polish. TPHP, like phthalates, has been shown to have reproductive and developmental impacts in animal studies.

Here’s a List of Chemicals to Avoid:

  • Phthalates
  • Formaldehyde
  • Camphor
  • Touluene
  • TPHP
  • Aluminum powder
  • Tosylamide
  • Benzophenone
  • Isobutylphenoxy epoxy
  • D&C Red 34
  • D&C Violet 2
  • Retinyl Palmitate
  • Fragrance

Padgett says that it’s best to choose five-free polishes (those that have eliminated formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde resin, and camphor from their products). Additionally, she recommends water-based products. Though these tend to be more natural than the five-free, they also have a shorter longevity and are likely to start chipping sooner.

What brands should you choose? Padgett recommends zoya, Deborah Lippman, and Priti.

How to Get a Safe Manicure in a Salon

For those of us that love being pampered at a salon, choosing a salon that’s safe is of the utmost importance. Here’s what you need to know:

1. Choose the right salon

Choose a salon that uses high quality organic or natural products that don’t contain the chemicals listed above. If your favorite salon doesn’t use safe products and you’re not willing to shop elsewhere, bring your own products.

2. Avoid the risk of infection

Beyond using dangerous chemicals, it’s also important to avoid the risk of infection. Arrive about ten minutes early and take a look around to make sure that the place is clean. First off, look at the foot soaking tubs to ensure that they’re cleaned between clients and then make sure that all the tools are properly disinfected. For example, each client should get a new file and buffer.

3. You get what you pay for

Remember, as is life, you get what you pay for. If you’re paying $10 for a manicure, it’s likely that the salon workers are vastly under payed so they’re more likely to cut corners. Choose to pay a few more dollars so that the nail workers are properly compensated and you’re getting a high quality product.

How to Give Yourself an Awesome DIY Manicure (Just Like  at a Salon!)

What You’ll Need:

  • non-acetone nail polish remover and organic cotton balls
  • nail file
  • buffing block
  • orangewood stick
  • cuticle oil
  • nail oil
  • nail polish (base coat, color, and top coat)

1. Start with a clean slate.

Before you start your manicure, you’ll want to start with a clean slate. That means removing any remnants of nail polish. Once you’ve removed all polish, it’s time to shape your nail. Using a nail file and clippers, cut your nails to your desired length and then shape your nails to remove any rough spots. Next, use a buffing block to shine the tops of the nails to remove any stain or any rough surfaces.

2. Get soaking.

Soak your fingers in a DIY nail soak. For extra moisturizing, add two tablespoons of coconut oil and two tablespoons of sugar to a small bowl of warm water. This softens the cuticles and it’s also pretty relaxing. While you’re soaking, massage the combination into your fingers to exfoliate any dead skin from your fingers.

3. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.

Now that you’ve enjoyed a good soak, it’s time to pamper your cuticles. Apply some delicious nail oils to your cuticles. We love Karma Organic Spa. Add a few drops of relaxing lavender essential oil to your nail oil. And then using an orangewood stick, push the cuticle gently back. Use the orangewood stick to remove anything that might be hanging out underneath your cuticles. Moisturize the hands and arms with a good hand lotion. Use long strokes on the forearms and circular movements around the joints.

4. Get yo polish on.

Start off by adding that ever important base coat to even out any ridges. Then paint two thinner layers of polish. Start in the middle of the nail first and then carefully move out toward the edges. Once these layers have dried, add your ever important, super shiny top coat. Choose fun fall colors like gray, purple, rose, and charcoal.

5. Don’t move.

No, really. Don’t move. Give your nails some time to dry. After all, you’ve already put this much time in. Do you want it all to go to waste? Give yourself at least 20 minutes of just sitting there. And there you have it. You’re holiday party ready.  To keep you hands looking their best, do yourself a favor and put a bottle of moisturizer by each sink. That way every time you wash your hands you can re-moisturize your hands.

A good manicure should last about a week before it starts chipping. So plan on spending a weekend day working on your nails. Experiment with fun colors or choose a neutral color if you have to look more professional. Either way, it’s a great addition to your fall and winter look.

What are your favorite nail care products? Do you have a nail care routine? We want to know! Drop us a line via Twitter @OrganicAuthorit.

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Sara Novak
Sara Novak

Sara Novak is an independent journalist who reports on health, science, yoga, and travel. She was a writer for Discovery Communications from 2006-2013 and her work has been featured on Discovery Health, Popular Science, TLC, Animal Planet, What to Expect, TreeHugger, and many more. She’s also a certified yoga teacher. When she's not churning away on her laptop, she can be found atop her yoga mat or walking the beach with her husband, baby boy, and two lovable cocker spaniels.