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J-Crew Nail Polish Ad Drama: Missing the Point

04.25.11 J-Crew Nail Polish Ad Drama: Missing the Point

When I heard about the J-Crew ad featuring a photo of a mom and son smiling lovingly at each other, and he with-- gasp!-- pink toenail polish on, my thoughts didn't turn to gender issues, but to toxicity.  My first thought was, what a sweet picture.  My second was, doesn't she know about the trio of nasty chemicals in regular nail polish?

I find myself aghast at all the negative attention this simple photo has recieved in the mainstream media.  Letting your child dress up, role play, and play creatively is a natural, healthy part of childhood.  John Stewart's segment on "Toemaggedon" demonstrates the ludicrous nature of this non-story.  

But this all misses the point.  Thankfully, a Huffington Post blogger also asked the question, is it safe to paint kids' nails?

When you consider the chemicals in regular nail polish (toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate, and formaldehyde), the answer seems to be, no.  These chemicals have been shown to have negative health consequences when ingested, and we all know what happens to the fingers of young children.  

Let's look at each chemical, with information from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics:

  "Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) adds flexibility and a moisturizing sheen, and helps dissolve other cosmetic ingredients. DBP is a reproductive and developmental toxin that has been linked to feminizing effects in baby boys (click here for more information). 

Toluene helps suspend the color and form a smooth finish across the nail. It also affects the central nervous system and can cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue. Toluene is a possible reproductive and developmental toxin. 

Formaldehyde is found in some nail products such as nail hardener. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen. It is also an irritant to the eyes, nose and throat, and can lead to skin irritation and an allergic rash called dermatitis." 

These are serious and significant health concerns, especially for nail salon workers, and others exposed with regularity.  The amount of these chemicals on our children's fingers is admittedly small, but if we are taking the safest route with the least exposure, nail polishes should be avoided.  Thankfully, several companies have removed these chemicals from their nail polishes, but not all. To check your favorite brand, visit the Skin Deep Database.  

So while the talking heads on the news shows pontificate about gender issues (it's just a color, and it does come off!), they miss the larger point, which is why as a country are we allowing products to be made and sold that can make us (and our children) sick, both in the short and long term?  

There are safer nail polishes out there:  Piggy Paint is one example.  

What do you think?

image:  Fox News

Posted in: Toxic Nail Polish
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