What is gel nail polish even made of, right? And how do I make sure it’s vegan and cruelty-free? Aren’t those two the same thing? And if it is vegan and cruelty-free, is it non-toxic? A lot of questions, a lot of information, we have a guide for you!
Gel nail polish is made of methacrylate and photoinitiator compounds like benzoyl peroxide that need to be exposed to UV light in order to adhere to the nail, not just dry on top of it.
Plasticizers are also added to gel nail polish formula in order to give it its flexible yet strong nature.
Methyl Acrylate is an organic, translucid compound with a strong, bitter odor. Used for its adhesive properties, it can be found in most nail polishes, including gel nail polish. Methyl Acrylate has a rather poor reputation due to the fact that it is often mistaken for Methal methacrylate. While it is toxic, there is no proof of Methyl Acrylate to be health endangering.
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) is an anti-oxidant formed of 2 isomeric organic compounds. It’s a lustrous solid used in beauty products such as some gel nail polishes.
BHA does contain carcinogenic agents, but it's not yet clear what quantities of BHA are detrimental. Note that BHA is not dangerous, according to the latest research, on your nails. It only gets toxic if inside the human body.
The “toxic” trio is found in a lot of nail polishes, on a global scale, including gel nail polishes. The trio - toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) - has been researched and the components were found to cause liver deficiencies, inflammation, and thyroid issues.
Vegan vs Cruelty-free
When a beauty product such as a nail polish is labeled vegan, it does not contain animal-derived substances - in the formula as well as in the production process.
Regular nail polishes often contain ingredients that originate from things like crushed beetles, beeswax, fish scales or animal protein in order to obtain the desired consistency or shine. Vegan nail polish uses other natural or synthetic ingredients, such as aluminum or faux pearl, to assure a ‘vegan’ outcome.
So, if a nail polish is vegan, is it automatically cruelty-free, too? No, not necessarily.
The term ‘cruelty-free’ affirms that the product is not being tested on animals. However, note that if a product declares itself just as ‘cruelty-free’, that doesn’t promise it is vegan, and vice versa.