A recent study by researchers at Duke University and the Environmental Working Group has uncovered a common ingredient in nail varnish that may be dangerous for people who regularly paint their nails.
Triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP is a suspected hormone disrupter and has been found in many popular nail varnish brands that line the shelves of our high street beauty counters and upmarket department stores.
49 percent of more than 3,000 nail varnishes and treatments were found by researchers to contain TPHP. Even more worrying is the fact that some of the products tested contain the chemical, but fail to disclose it in the ingredients list, making it even harder to avoid.
Studies show TPHP disrupts hormones
Separate studies have shown that TPHP is an endocrine disrupter, meaning it interferes with hormones. In animals it has been shown to affect reproduction and development, and in humans it is thought that TPHP may be linked to weight gain, although further studies are needed.
A group of 26 volunteers painted their nails for the scientific study and TPHP was detected in the bodies of every woman who took part. Urine samples were collected before and after applying nail varnish that contained 1 percent TPHP. After two to six hours levels of diphenyl phosphate, or DPHP (a biomarker that indicates TPHP has been processed by the body) were slightly elevated in 24 of the participants. After 10 to 14 hours, levels of DPHP increased sharply in every volunteer.
Why is TPHP used in nail varnish?
After the widespread media and public scrutiny of a plasticiser called dibutyl phthalate, or DBP, TPHP may have been used as a replacement to improve flexibility and prevent nail varnishes from turning solid in the bottle. Along with other phthalates, DBP was shown in highly publicised scientific studies to be toxic to the reproductive system and be likely endocrine disruptors.
Unfortunately while some companies may have been pressured to remove phthalates, it appears that TPHP may be just as harmful to the body.
TPHP is thought to be absorbed through the skin around the nails and the cuticles, where it can enter the bloodstream and be transported around the body. The study found that clear nail varnishes contained higher levels of TPHP, meaning even your topcoat can be damaging.
Reduce your exposure to TPHP
If you or your family are lacquer lovers, these tips will help to reduce your exposure to TPHP. Or better yet, skip the nail varnish and simply shape and buff your nails to get a natural shine.
Fingers or toes, not both – stick to painting just your fingers, or just your toes and not both at once, this will reduce the number of chemicals that can enter your body.
Always check the label – despite some brands not disclaiming their use of TPHP, do a little research to find a ‘five-free’ or ‘seven-free’ nail polish that has formulated their products without harmful ingredients.
Don’t bite your nails – never chew painted nails as you can ingest the nasty chemicals in your nail varnish. If your children wear nail varnish, remind them not to chew their nails and help them choose a product that is free from chemical nasties.
Get naturally gorgeous nails
Keep your nails looking naturally flawless by nourishing your hands and cuticles with Green People’s organic Manuka & Lemon Tea Tree Hand Cream.
This rich, hydrating and non-greasy cream contains powerful natural actives, including nourishing Shea butter and Olive Squalane, to transform dryness and irritation into soft, supple skin.
With the natural aroma of Sweet Orange, Manuka & Lemon Tea Tree, hands and cuticles are softened, rehydrated and soothed, leaving your nails looking perfectly polished without a layer of lacquer.
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