There’s nothing like a mani-pedi to spruce up your look, perk up your mood and carve out some well-deserved me-time. Something about that particular primping ritual seems to melt away stress as you lovingly tend to each nail, indulging your innate girliness with each careful brushstroke.

Hate to destroy this tableau, but the chemical toxins in conventional nail polishes are about as ugly as cosmetics get. It’s not just a stealthy hint of a questionable ingredient or two. One pungent whiff of a lacquer bottle and you just know it’s full of nasty stuff. But just how nasty is it? Alarmingly so.

Let’s limit this chemistry lesson to the top three problem ingredients that are found in almost all regular nail polish formulations.

  1. Formaldehyde. Yes, that same wretched embalming fluid from those creepy specimen jars in your high school lab is commonly used as a polish preservative. If the smell isn’t enough to steer you away, try the fact that the US National Toxicology Program officially declared it “known to be human carcinogen” in June 2011, upped from a more ambiguous label it had in the past. Formaldehyde is also linked to asthma and other respiratory concerns, can irritate eyes and mucus membranes, cause headaches, dizziness, dermatitis, lesions and a host of other ailments. Do you really want this stuff dazzling your fingers and toes? 
  2. Toluene. Sounds like a French pastry but it’s actually a toxic chemical used in paint thinners, jet fuel and as an octane booster in gasoline. Inhaling low to moderate levels can cause tiredness, confusion, weakness, memory loss, nausea, loss of appetite, and hearing and color vision loss. No wonder manicurists experience a litany of complaints when surrounded by these fumes day in, day out. The pathetic thing is this chemical’s main purpose in nail polish formulations is to prevent them from separating so you don’t have to shake the bottle before applying. Surely avoiding these health hazards is worth a little shake or two. 
  3. Dibutyl phthalate, otherwise known as DBP, gives nail polish a hard but flexible finish. While that may look pretty, it’s also a suspected endocrine disruptor that has been linked to reproductive issues and birth defects, even in low doses of exposure. Yikes. Women are advised to avoid painting their nails during pregnancy because of this stuff, but frankly shouldn’t we all want to avoid something this toxic, pregnant or not? The good news is that use of this chemical in cosmetics has been banned in Europe and growing awareness has pressured many major brands of North American nail polish to eliminate its use too.

However not all brands have complied, and even some of those that have boldly claimed to be “3-free”, in reference to the above chemical trio, have been found to still contain this hazardous junk. In April 2012, a study by the Department of Toxic Substances Control sampled nail polish brands in random California salons and found that 10 out of 12 brands claiming to be free of at least one of these toxic offenders were actually not. What’s a consumer to do when you can’t trust the labels?

That’s when you can turn to Saffron Rouge. We have painstakingly evaluated (and rejected) several lines of eco-conscious nail color and have found Acquarella to be wonderfully worthy of our customers. This is the first polish to make the cut into our store, and we’re excited to offer something so you can decorate your digits assured that you’re not compromising safety for style.

You’ll notice something special at first smell. That familiar head-ache inducing overpowering stench is refreshingly absent. Acquarella polishes are virtually odorless because they are water-based and non-toxic, containing none of three offending chemicals listed above nor a host of other nasty flammable additives. They recommend you put your nails though a few day’s detox process to remove any oil or emollient residue built up from regular polish use. Once you’ve cleaned and conditioned your nails accordingly, the go-forward is hassle-free.

Acquarella has managed to produce an eco-friendly product that still goes on slick and smooth, dries quickly (as little as 3 minutes) and has no need for a base or top coat. This nail color actually hydrates the nail and prevents that chipping, peeling and yellowing often experienced with conventional polishes. What’s even more special is how beautiful the colors are, from fun and funky blues and oranges and to subtle and classic pinks and neutrals. Opaque, translucent, metallic or shimmer, there’s something for every age, mood or occasion. Whatever color you choose, they’re all green.