11 Non-Toxic Nail-Polish Shades To Wear On Repeat This Summer

Even if you've never paused to read the ingredient label on a nail polish before tossing it in your shopping cart (you're always in such a rush at Target, and plus, is text that small even readable?), chances are you've skimmed a scary headline exposing the potentially harmful toxins hiding inside the fun-sized glass bottles.

As a result of the fear factor that's been circulating since at least 2010, when The New York Times ran a piece about growing concern over health risks in the nail-polish industry, many nail-care brands have successfully eliminated the three most potentially harmful, red-flag chemicals from their formulas: formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP, for short), and toluene. These additives have long been used in traditional polishes to help the color better adhere to the nail, but there's now significant research indicating their status as serious health risks.

ADVERTISEMENT

Unfortunately, there are more than three hard-to-pronounce ingredients on most nail-polish labels, and no governmental regulation on which, and how many, chemical omissions warrant a "non-toxic" label. The overall confusion has resulted in a widespread greenwashing epidemic, and lots of buzzy marketing claims that many people don't fully understand, with nail-polish brands using seemingly arbitrary hyphenates like, "five-free," "eight-free," and "ten-free."

"Unfortunately, since we exist in a basically unregulated market when it comes to beauty products, there is no universal definition of 'non-toxic' nail polish," explains nail pro and Tenoverten founder Nadine Abramcyk. "Brands decide where they draw the line in determining whether they can call themselves non-toxic," she says. "We at Tenoverten remove eight potentially harmful chemicals from the typical nail polish formula and consider the removal of these ingredients to deem us non-toxic."

As the customer, it's completely up to as to which level of the non-toxic polish scale you're comfortable with — five, three, eight, ten, whatever — so long as your favorite is free of formaldehyde, DBP, and toluene. To make the process of finding a clean option a little less confusing, we've broken down our 11 favorite nail-care brands, all of which have made a clear commitment to formulating polishes free of the big three chemicals and then some — despite the lack of an FDA mandate to do so.

From baby blues to bright corals and confetti glitter, scroll through to find the prettiest (and safest) nail-polish shades we're looking forward to wearing all summer.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

ADVERTISEMENT

Zoya



We're partial to this perfect sky-blue shade for summer pedicure season, but every polish bottle from Zoya comes with the same natural, non-toxic, vegan, 13-free assurance at an economically-sound $10 price point.
Zoya Nail Polish in Blu$10.00 Buy

Flora 1761



Beyond the timeless colors and gold, floral embroidery on the bottles, Flora 1761 founder Christine Cameron Koehler created her polish line to be 8-free, vegan, and cruelty-free as a cleaner alternative to most mass-produced nail polish on the market.
Flora 1761 Nail Lacquer in Sweet William$16.00 Buy

Tenoverten



You may have been introduced to Tenoverten's nail polishes while sitting back in a wicker chair at one of the brand's boutique eco-friendly salons. The label's founders (and friends) Nadine Abramcyk and Adair Ilyinsky created a line of polishes to match the minimal salon aesthetic with a gorgeous array of colors, including the world's most perfect nudes — all formulated without formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, and triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), making them "eight-free."
Tenoverten The Foundation$18.00 Buy

Côte



One of the cleanest formulas out there, Côte nail polishes are available in every shade under the sun — from baby pink to sparkly metallicsand foolproof to shop, as the site presents each polish with a post-manicure photo showing how the shade actually looks on a real person's hands.
Côte No. 10$18.00 Buy

Sundays



The Sundays brand philosophy is based on meditation and calm, which is why it's not too surprising that the polishes are not only soothing in shade — like this glossy purple gray — but boast a 10-free formula, excluding chemicals like parabens, camphor, and xylene, that's also 100% free of any animal byproducts.
Sundays No. 21 Nail Polish$18.00 Buy
ADVERTISEMENT

Londontown



The initial idea for the nine-free, completely non-toxic nail polish line called Londontown was born out of a family's small rose garden in Radlett, England (talk about idyllic). Not only are the colors as soft and picturesque as its inception story would lead you to believe, but all the polishes are infused with the brand's proprietary formula of natural botanicals like vitamin E and rapeseed oil to deeply nourish nails.
LondonTown Nail Polish in Dolly Mix$16.00 Buy

Smith & Cult



For anyone looking for a classic red polish, free of eight hard-to-pronounce chemicals, poured into a chic gold-capped glass bottle that can double as bedside table decor, look no further than Smith & Cult. The red is a favorite, but all the shades prove ultra-high performance, meaning they'll keep your speedy at-home manicure glossy and vibrant for more than two days.
Smith & Cult Nail Lacquer in Kundalini Hustle$18.00 Buy

Butter London



You can expect a vegan-friendly, eight-free formula that delivers a high-shine finish and full color coverage in a single coat with these polishes — which means this sunny coral shade will glide on your nails like, well, butter, and the color will keep for up to ten days without chipping or dulling.
Butter London Trout Pout Patent Shine 10X Nail Lacquer$18.00 Buy

Base Coat



With a thoughtfully curated collection of 105 custom colors, you can rest assured that your Base Coat mani will be safe for your skin (the formula is an eight-free blend of plant-based ingredients) and all furry animals (it's Leaping Bunny-certified), and will pop next to any outfit — zero filter required.
Base Coat Nail Polish in Muddled$20.00 Buy

Ella + Mila



The teeny-tiny elephant on the front of the Ella + Mila nail-polish bottles is adorable enough to want to buy them in bulk and stow them away for last-minute present toppers for your upcoming bridal showers. It also helps that every shade is made without chemicals (seven-free, to be specific), and cost just $10 and change at Target.
Ella + Mila Ella + Mila Nail Polish in Bubble Trouble$10.50 Buy
ADVERTISEMENT

Jinsoon



This clear, glossy polish sprinkled with flecks of rainbow confetti (which makes for a trendy minimalist manicure) is called Fab, a descriptor that can likewise be used to characterize the entire Jinsoon polish collection of nine-free formulations with high-quality color payoff.
JINsoon JINsoon Nail Polish in Fab$18.00 Buy
ADVERTISEMENT
Load more...