Friday, 8 August 2008
For ages I’ve wanted a professional manicure. My nails grow reasonably long but they never look as good as those of the ladies I see emerging from the nail studios around town, and if I’m honest, I’ve been a bit envious of them. I’m not so fussed about my toes - my feet are ugly and a pedicure wouldn’t do much to enhance them, but a manicure…
I also used to wear nail polish a lot. Well, by a lot I actually mean all the time. Every single day I’d remove the polish from the previous day and apply a new colour. I had a bit of thing about it - it was almost an obsession I suppose.
But then I started to think about things. What’s actually in all that colourful varnish I keep slavering on my nails, and what about the acetone in the nail varnish remover?
Nail varnish contains all sorts of phthalates, formaldehyde, toluene, alcohol and acetates. Apparently, one of those chemicals, called nefarious dibutyl phthalate (or NDP for short), has been linked to cancer in laboratory tests and to underdeveloped genitals in baby boys. Now I know that most of us know plenty of women who’ve used nail polish during their pregnancies without having weird things happen to their son’s ‘downstairs areas’ but even so, I don’t like the sound of it and is it really worth the risk?
You really only have to get a whiff of wet nail varnish to know that it can’t be good for you. Christ, you can even get high on the stuff! And there we are, happily painting our nails with what’s basically a poison, in badly ventilated rooms and thinking nothing of it.
Then there’s the remover, which is basically pure acetone, a chemical that’s harmful when absorbed through the skin (and how many of us manage to remove our nail polish without getting it on our skin?). Ok, so you’d need a lot for it to be fatal, but it can make you ill, especially if you spill it over your lap or down your legs, like I’ve been known to do on occasion. When it comes to the environment, acetone’s said to deplete aquatic systems of their oxygen because it causes some kind of microbial activity that simply consumes it.
There are a few ‘environmentally friendly’ nail varnishes on the market, including Suncoat, but it’s relatively expensive and really not something I can afford at the moment.
No, I’ve decided that I’m giving up nail varnish for all but very special occasions. It doesn’t actually enhance my life in any particular way so I really don’t need it. If people don’t like looking at unpolished fingers and toes - the way nature intended them - then that’s tough!
Maybe I should consider hanging some silver bells from my toes instead? Or decorating them with henna?