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What is Formaldehyde?

Definition: Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless gas with a pungent, unpleasant odor. It is found in many household products such as glues, adhesives, paper product coatings, and in some insulation materials. It is used as a bacterial disinfectant and embalming fluid, and it's a common treatment for warts since it dries out the skin.

Formaldehyde is also a preservative often found in nail polish. It helps harden the lacquer and prevent it from chipping. Unfortunately, it is highly flammable, toxic and is proven to be carcinogenic in animals (with studies linking it to human cancer too). Breathing in formaldehyde can be detrimental to your lungs, eyes, throat and nose when inhaled. It can also lead to headaches, fatigue and dizziness.

Since there are many formaldehyde-free nail varnishes on the market, it's important to be aware of labels and to choose your products wisely. And I would stay far away from hair-straightening treatments that use formaldehyde. After all, beauty products are intended to enhance your body, not harm it .


Join The Conversation
azucar_ame azucar_ame 9 years
YIKES!! !azúcar! Ame
meowalycat meowalycat 9 years
I've known about this for some time. Nubar is one line that has a lot of offering and doesn't contain it. Now I wonder if you used a formaldehyde free basecoat first to protect the nail, and then happened to use a polish that wasn't free of formaldehyde on top of it, would that basecoat elimate the risk?
michlny michlny 9 years
Revlon makes polishes w/o formaldehyde. People really should avoid this! I went to the best Nail Dr. in NYC when I had nail issues and he told me to avoid it! Acetone too.
audreyxoxo audreyxoxo 9 years
details2 details2 9 years
I can't wait for your list! Thank you Bella!
Tabloid Tabloid 9 years
I think a mask but does that help 100%?
Tabloid Tabloid 9 years
Bella, how can esthetician avoid breathing those substances while doing our nails?
liltandweave liltandweave 9 years
Thank you, Bella!
ALSW ALSW 9 years
Thanks, Bella!
Beauty Beauty 9 years
Hey everyone, great questions. Tell you what — I'll make a comprehensive post with formaldehyde-free polishes for tomorrow. (And yes, ALSW, formaldehyde resin contains formaldehyde, just in a tweaked form.)
ALSW ALSW 9 years
I just searched and it looks like the clear top coat of OPI and a few other OPI polishes contain Formaldehyde Resin. Is that the same thing? Something similar with the same issues?
annebreal annebreal 9 years
Yeah now I'm freaked out and don't know if the OPI on my nails is giving me cancer! So yeah, a head's up about what brands don't use it would be great...although doesn't it seem sometimes that almost anything can give you cancer?
Dana18 Dana18 9 years
Thank you for this info, very scary!
mischo-beauty mischo-beauty 9 years
Bella! You are on top of it! So proud of you! Now, will you tell us which companies use formaldehyde in their nail polish? And which don't as "liltandweave" asked?
liltandweave liltandweave 9 years
Bella, Could you tell us which companies use formaldehyde in their nail polish? And which don't?
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