Best Non-Toxic Nail Polish for a Formaldehyde-Free Manicure in All Our Favorite Colors

Want a salon-perfect manicure you can feel good about? Then try ditching the formaldehyde and other toxic ingredients and investing in a non-toxic nail polish.


Apr. 30 2024, Published 12:29 p.m. ET

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Anyone who loves a good mani/pedi has probably had a moment when they wondered, "What am I actually putting on my nails anyway?". Well, the answer isn't quite as pretty as you'd hope. Traditional nail polishes most commonly use formaldehyde, a hardening resin that's also a known carcinogen and potential allergen, and its cousin, formaldehyde resin. Other offenders include dibutyl phthalate (an endocrine disruptor), toluene (the solvent responsible for those eye-watering fumes), and camphor (a questionable yet common beauty ingredient).

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The best nontoxic nail polish options in the beauty aisle kick those toxic chemicals to the curb while delivering lustrous, long-lasting manicures. In full transparency, though, the jury is still out on how harmful traditional nail polishes are for your health, even though your body absorbs them. Some reports state that toxins can't penetrate your nails and enter your bloodstream once nail polish hardens. And it's always possible that a nail polish marketed as "formaldehyde-free" can contain traces of the ingredient, says a study published in the National Library of Medicine.

Ultimately, the choice is yours, but bear in mind that even breathing the fumes generated by traditional nail polish has been linked to everything from eye irritation to chest pain. These non-toxic nail polishes are all 5-free, which means they omit the five most toxic ingredients — in fact, they exclude even more than that. I've rounded up the best non-toxic nail polish brands in some of the hottest colors for spring and summer 2024 (according to TikTok influencers), so you can look great and feel great.

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essie Salon-Quality 8-Free Vegan Nail Polish in Ballet Slippers

Queen Elizabeth's nail polish color is a constant source of fascination, and beauty insiders have tracked it down: it's Ballet Slippers, a soft pink neutral by the legends at essie. Thankfully, essie has cleaned up its act in recent years and now has a line of nontoxic nail polish that's vegan and 8-free, which means it has none of the top five offenders and also leaves out xylene, ethyl tosylamide, and triphheyl phosphate.

One reviewer called this essie are highly pigmented and easy to apply without streaks or clumping. An application on my toes will last weeks without any chipping or [peeling]."

$8.50 (was $10) at Amazon

Sundays Nail Polish in No. 40

Cobalt blue has been anointed the nail color of summer 2024, and this Sundays nail polish in No. 40 nails it. The vegan, cruelty-free formula is actually 10-free, which means it also leaves out harmful TPHP and tert-butyl hydroperoxide (is it just me, or do these chemicals keep sounding worse?). Layer on the glossy polish with its professional-grade flat brush for a salon-quality manicure and pedicure that lasts and lasts.

"My favorite! The most vibrant, electric blue. First Sunday’s purchase and I am impressed. Polish holds up a very long time," one fashionista wrote.

$18 at Sundays
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Côte Chrome Nail Polish in No. 13

Nontoxic nail polish brand Côte has watched No. 13 nail polish claw its way to the top of the best-sellers list, as chrome nails are holding strong in 2024 and being called the "It girl" manicure of spring. You can get your shimmery chrome fix in any color, but this one is in the champagne/rose gold family. Côte nail polish is vegan and cruelty-free and is 6-free.

"The color is the perfect blend of shimmer and metallic, and I think the color would be universally flattering. My current favorite for a little summertime glam," wrote a shopper.

$18 at Côte

ella + mila Nail Polish in Samba Beats

ella + mila markets its nontoxic nail polishes as a whopping 17-free, because in addition to the 10 most notoriously bad ingredients, it excludes things like acetone, gluten, parabens, and sulfates. It's vegan, cruelty-free, and probably the most pure formulation in this list. Its Samba Beats color, which has a five-star rating, is the closest possible to what is fast becoming one of the most coveted colors of 2024: bright green. The color takes its cue from the nails debuted at Coachella 2024 by Hailey Beiber, the manicure influencer herself who brought the famous glazed donut nails of 2023.

$10.50 at ella + mila
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Olive & June Quick Dry Polish in Lollipop

Red nails are timeless, and one TikTok influencer even brainstormed the now-vrial "red nail theory," which posits that men are more attracted to people with their nails painted red. If you're a fan of this fiery power color, give Olive & June's Quick Dry Nail Polish a whirl in Lollipop. The cherry red lacquer is 15-free and lasts about five days.

"This is the absolute perfect red nail color. I am absolutely obsessed - I might never even try another red!" a shopper proclaimed.

$7.50 at Olive & June

Ten Over Ten Nail Polish In Dover

Hailey Beiber strikes again! One of her favorite greyish nail polishes has become a hot 2024 color, but the brand she uses isn't non-toxic. Enter Ten Over Ten non-toxic nail polish in the very similar Dover. It's 8-free plus cruelty-free and vegan. "The coverage is great. One coat is pretty opaque but two coats is perfect. It applies and dries smooth. The polish has lasted well so far (a week) and looks great!" a customer wrote.

$14 at Ten Over Ten

Piggy Paint 100% Non-Toxic Girls Nail Polish in Unicorn Fairy

For kids, Piggy Paint can't be beat as a non-toxic nail polish. It's 17-free and completely odorless, and it's safe for even the tiniest finger and toes. This Unicorn Fairy gift set comes with three fun colors and nail decals. "Non-toxic but has good color pigment and stays on better than other kid-friendly polish. It can come off in the bath if freshly painted, but overall has better longevity than other brands," wrote one parent.

$16 (originally $20) at Amazon
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