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Is 5-Free the New Standard For Nail Polish?

What’s missing in the latest nail polish formulas? Nothing that you’re going to miss. (Photo:

When nail polish was first created in France in the 1920’s, the formula was an adapted version of the glossy enamel used on cars. Eep! Thankfully, the formulas have come a long way since then. Over the past few years, we’ve seen many “3-free” formulas that omit harmful dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, and formaldehyde. The next step: 5-free polishes, which are made without formaldehyde resin and camphor. Click through for more on these two toxic ingredients and for a list of our favorite 5-free brands!

Formaldehyde resin: Similar to regular formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin is a nail strengthener. Unfortunately, it is also a skin allergen and can remain active for up to three days after your polish has dried. While no link to cancer has been established for formaldehyde resin (in contrast to formaldehyde), it can cause dermatitis.

Camphor: Camphor is a natural ingredient that can be found in aromatherapy but that doesn’t automatically make it safe! Exposure in large doses, especially through inhalation, can be toxic and cause irritation, nausea, dizziness, and headaches. 

A number of high-end fashion brand staples such as Chanel, Dior, and Givenchy have already quietly converted to less toxic formulas. In addition, recently launched lines like JINSoon by famed manicurist Jin Soon Choi are starting off 5-free. Here’s a list of our personal 5-free favorites: 

What’s your go-to polish brand? Is it 5-free? 


If you’re polish obsessed like us, definitely check out our Mani Monday column for fantastic tutorials!

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