What Does 21-Free Nail Polish Mean?

Posted by Staci Morris on

At Liberation Nails, we’re proud to sell 21-free nail polish. It’s a good thing—but you might be wondering exactly what “21-free” means.

If you've found this page, you care about what goes into your body and how your choices affect the environment. So do we. That’s why we created a non-toxic nail polish formula that is free of 21 harmful or synthetic chemical ingredients.

The Non-Toxic Cosmetics Movement

Before the FDA Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, you could put just about anything in nail polish. In fact, some young women during the 1920s painted their nails with radioactive luminous paint—and it was considered safe.

Unfortunately, passing this little piece of legislation changed nothing. Cosmetics still don’t require prior FDA approval before hitting the shelves. To this day, they only monitor color additives. Nail polish companies and customers (as they often do) had to take health and safety into their own well-manicured hands.

3, 5, 8, and 10-free nail polish isn’t good enough for Liberation Nails

The non-toxic nail care movement started with 3-free nail polish. This is nail polish made without using the three most harmful toxic ingredients: Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde, and Toluene.

Eventually, the number of undesirable ingredients reached ten, with multiple companies choosing to avoid the “big three,” as well as parabens, camphor, formaldehyde resin, xylene, triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), tert-butyl hydroperoxide (TBHP), and ethyl tosylamide.

Non-toxic nail care has been moving in the right direction for a while now, but we felt that we could do better.

We knew there had to be a way to make beautiful nail polish with even fewer harmful ingredients. We excluded eleven more to make 21-free nail polish: Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK), 4-Methoxyphenol (MEHQ), Carcinogenic Mutagenic, Formaldehyde Releaser, Cyclic Silicones, Glycol Ethers of Series E, Chromium Oxide Greens, Benzene, Hydroquinone (HQ), Nonylphenol Ethoxylates, and Bismuth Oxychloride.

21 chemicals we never use and why?

Here is a brief rundown of why we feel so passionately about creating safe nail care products that include none of the following:

  1. Dibutyl Phthalate – may affect reproductive, neurological, and developmental systems
  2. Formaldehyde – carcinogen
  3. Toluene – irritant
  4. Parabens – endocrine disruptor
  5. Camphor ­– irritant
  6. Formaldehyde resin ­­– allergen
  7. Xylene –irritant, allergen
  8. Triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) – irritant
  9. Tert-butyl hydroperoxide (TBHP) – irritant
  10. Ethyl tosylamide – antibiotic properties (not in a good way)
  11. Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) – irritant
  12. 4-Methoxyphenol (MEHQ) – irritant
  13. Carcinogenic Mutagenics – may cause changes in DNA
  14. Formaldehyde Releaser – carcinogen
  15. Cyclic Silicones – possible endocrine disruptor
  16. Glycol Ethers of Series E – irritants
  17. Chromium Oxide Greens – irritant
  18. Benzene – carcinogen
  19. Hydroquinone (HQ) – skin-lightening agent
  20. Nonylphenol Ethoxylates – possible endocrine disruptor
  21. Bismuth Oxychloride – irritant

Many of these ingredients have also been flagged as pollutants and are banned in Europe due to health and environmental concerns.

What kind of ingredients do we use instead?

Let’s take a look at Self Soothe, a calming light green nail polish from our liberation nails collection. It includes ingredients like silica (found in sand), titanium dioxide (found naturally in plants and animals), Evening Primrose oil, Kukui seed oil, Baobab oil, Sweet Almond oil, and Violet Extract.

Even our nail polish remover is acetone-free. Instead, we use a formula that includes Frankincense oil, Abyssinian seed oil, ascorbic acid, and a vitamin blend. It even comes in a reusable dispenser.

We never want to harm our customers or the world we live in.

Why settle for less when you can have 21-free nail polish?

Liberation Nails was born from love. When founder Staci Morris’s mother was at the end of her cancer fight, she asked Staci to paint her nails. “It brought a little bit of joy to a tragic situation.”

Nail painting should be a joyful experience, but it can be difficult to relax and enjoy something so simple when you can’t be sure how your choice affects your body and the environment. We take the stress away by assuring customers that our non-toxic nail care products are safe, inclusive, cruelty-free, and sustainable. We never use animal derivatives or synthetic fragrances.

So, sit back, relax, choose your favorite 21-free nail polish shades, and enjoy the little things in life once again.

Liberation Nails creates 21-free nail polish for children and adults. Visit our store for inspiration and enjoy free shipping on orders of $75 or more.

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