Friday, 8 August 2008

Why My Fingers & Toes Are 'Au Naturelle'

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?

Sharon J


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Chris said...

Hi Sharon!

Hope you are OK? Another interesting thouyght provoking read! Thanks!

Oh and with bells on your toes there should be rings on your fingers...............except its the other way around eg rings on your fingers and bells on your toes you shall have mucis wherever you go!

Oh well off to do something else now I have calmed down! Had a dreadfully rude receptionsit from a hospital dept to deal with! Thankfully his boss was a very very nice man and sorted it the problem/query ( and hopefully sorted the rude man too!) Might add something about it to my blog later on!

Thanks for your blog! I don't always comment but always read and look forward to doing so!!

Lu said...

No polish for me either, mostly because I am too lazy. I got out of the habit when I was pregnant and didn't want to breathe in the fumes or absorb any chemicals. Now have a better reason than laziness for staying polish free!.

Beckie said...

Great topic! I used to get a manicure every week...I still struggle with nail envy. Ur post reinforces my commitment to keeping ecologically balanced with my environment and fiscally responsible with my money. I'm a new reader..keep up the inspiration! Thanks!

apieceofwood said...

Good post and interesting. I don't paint mine anymore as I just don't have the time, but this is enough not to want me paint them anymore!

Carol said...

Although I do paint my toe nails I have been thinking about a getting a flower tattoo on my toes. rings look nice too.

Anonymous said...

I'm too lazy to keep my nails up! I like them when they are freshly done but hate to see them chipped- Keeping them nice involves too much maintenance for me! I now just file and buff mine once a week and rub in some cream or oil and I'm pleased with the healthy looking results.

Frugal Trenches said...

Yet another fabulous post! I too prefer the natural look. What changed my mind was visiting a manicure parlor (not sure if that's the right word, sounds a bit sordid!) and the smell was overwhelming, made me very aware of chemicals. After having my nails done I accidentially put a finger in my mouth and the taste was terrible - no chemicals for me!

Sharon J said...

Chris. I don't actually wear any rings on my fingers so maybe I'll give the bells a miss ;-)

Lu. Who needs an excuse? It's not as if nail polish is a necessity you're not bothering with. Of course, spreading the anti-econess of it is no bad thing though.

Beckie. Hi and welcome. It's always nice to 'meet' new like-minded people and it's especially nice to know that I've helped reinforce your commitment :)

Pieceofwood. There are lots of things I stopped doing ages ago, either because I don't have the time or just don't want to spend my time on them but my nails were kind of sacred. Not anymore though.

Carol. A flower tattoo would be lovely. I used to wear some silver rings on my toes but they were always rubbing and making my skin sore so I gave up on that.

Mylifejourney. It was because of the chipping that I repainted mine every day. I couldn't stand even the tinest chip. Now I just buff and trim them.

Frugaltrenches. I've never actually been inside a nail studio but I can imagine what it smells like. Just one bottle of the stuff can sometimes be more than enough. Some makes definitely pong more than others.

Catz said...

Nail polish on my fingernails is a waste of time as I constantly forget to wear gloves when I am gardening etc and so would chip them in no time! so it is a special occasions only event! another one here who can't tolerate the smell! Frightening about the chemicals though!

Sharon J said...

I know what you mean about not wearing gloves, Catz. I don't either and am often breaking my nails because of it (well, I was... back in the day when I could still keep up with the gardening that is). Gloves take away too much sensitivity - I like the feel of the plants and the earth too much.

I don't wear washing up gloves either, another thing that isn't particularly nail friendly.

Sara at On Simplicity said...

I've cut down on nail polish drastically. At this point, it just doesn't seem worth the effort, and I like the idea of valuing my natural appearance in more ways.

I did get my very first manicure ever this weekend, for a special occasion. The end result? Meh. There's definitely better ways for me to spend my time and money.

Loved hearing your perspective on the topic!

Sharon J said...

Hmm... I guess I'm not really missing out on that much by not having a manicure then, Sara.