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Nail Buffing is the Safe Alternative to Nail Polish

Young woman filing her nailsMany women like to keep their nails looking attractive and polished especially in the work place or for special occasions. But nail polish and remover can be particularly toxic and it becomes very high maintenance to keep those nails looking freshly polished because, let's face it, nothing looks more tacky than chipped nail polish.

What is in various commercial nail products?

Nail polish, polish removers and artificial nail products contain a host of toxic chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer, reproductive harm, asthma and other negative health effects. But at least some nail polish manufacturers have now reformulated their products to remove the "toxic trio" of ingredients: namely, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde and toluene.

The toxic trio

  1. Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) adds flexibility and a moisturizing sheen, and helps dissolve other cosmetic ingredients. But the downside is that it is a a reproductive and developmental toxin that has been linked to feminizing effects in baby boys.
  2. Toluene helps suspend the color in nail polish and form a smooth finish across the nail. But it also affects the central nervous system and can cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue. It is thought to be a possible reproductive and developmental toxin.
  3. Formaldehyde is found in some nail products such as nail hardener and is a well known human carcinogen. Plus it is an irritant to the eyes, nose and throat, possibly leading to skin irritation and an allergic rash called dermatitis or eczema. In addition to the toxic trio, nail care products can also contain a host of other toxic chemicals, including organic solvents like xylene, methyl ethyl ketone and acetone, as well as acrylic polymers such as methyl methylacrylate and ethyl methylacrylate.

There is a safer alternative to nail polish and it is called nail buffing

This can create an attractive and smooth sheen to your nails while helping your nails grow stronger and longer because of increased circulation.

How to nail buff

  • Medium to fine buffing block
  • Fine to superfine buffing block
  • Chamois leather
  • Beeswax


  1. Take off that old nail polish for the last time using your existing bottle of nail polish remover before conditioning your fingernails with a good quality natural cream or oil while pushing back the cuticles. Then file your fingernails carefully to the desired shape. At the same time look out for any signs of nail fungus.
  2. Stroke each fingernail a few times with a medium/fine buffing block to take off any ridges on the surface. Be extra careful not to buff too long or too hard because of the risk of thinning out the fingernail, weakening it and making it vulnerable to injury or infection.
  3. Stroke each fingernail with a fine/superfine buffing block to shine them. Go in one direction only. This is to make sure you don't move the buffing block back and forth over the fingernail so quickly that you cause damage without realizing it.
  4. Shine your fingernails with a small piece of chamois leather. If you wish, you can use a buffing cream or a little beeswax to give your fingernails a high sheen.
  5. Your fingernails will look natural and attractive so you can now skip that nail polish with its toxic chemicals which you would absorb through your nails and your skin. Apart from any toxic and harmful ingredients, polish remover dries out and ultimately damages your fingernails.

Just one word of warning

Don't use the buffer for smoothing out ridges on your nails more often than once a month. You can buff the nails themselves as often as you like as long as the product is minus any abrasives.

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