5-free nail polishes for dazzling digits this holiday season


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The one time I absolutely must have pretty nails is when I’m going to a party, so the holidays are the perfect time for me to establish manicure and pedicure routines. Anyone who has read Unvarnished, the shocking series by The New York Times on the exploitation of workers at salons offering cheap manicures, knows better than to go to salons promising prices that are too good to be true, and you may also be wary of some chemicals found in nail polish. The good news is that you can still be a budget babe and have dazzling digits without a salon manicure or gross ingredients, thanks to nail polishes that are kicking toxic chemicals to the curb and making it easier than ever to treat yourself to a manicure at home.


Icky ingredients

More and more nail polish brands are letting consumers know that they are 3-free, but what exactly does this mean? When a nail polish brand claims to be 3-free, that means that their polishes don’t contain formaldehyde, dibutyl pthalate (DBP) or toluene. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen, while, according to Slate, “research shows that chemicals like DBP and toluene can act as endocrine disruptors and impact healthy prenatal development.” Yikes. In fact, The New York Times reveals, “In Australia, [DBP] is listed as a reproductive toxicant” and is not allowed at all for use in cosmetics throughout the European Union. Many nail polish companies are getting rid of these ingredients, though back in 2012, Slate reported that several brands claiming to be 3-free, many of which were popular brands found in cheaper nail salons, actually contained notable amounts of these chemicals. One more reason to just do your own nails at home!

Now some brands are going 5-free, which means that, in addition to getting rid of the above chemicals, 5-free polishes are also formulated without formaldehyde resin and camphor, both of which are allergens. If you’d like to clean up your nail routine, check out these chic, affordable polishes that have colors perfect for your holiday party look and also make great gifts.


Nail polish from across the pond

Anything in miniature is automatically a win, and it’s also a great way for those on a budget to try out a new beauty buy. Also, if you don’t polish your nails all the time, it makes more sense to snatch up a miniature version of a quality nail polish than to buy a bigger, cheaper polish that will end up shoved into a cosmetic bag somewhere only to be seen Ciate Londonduring your next makeup purge. Ciaté London, a beauty brand from the U.K., has a gorgeous collection of 5-free nail polishes, with colors and finishes to suit any look you may be after. Ciaté offers Mini Paint Pots, itty bitty bottles of polish, so you can try new shades with less waste. The bottles retail for $8 each, but to maximize your dollar, go for the Pick & Mix deal offered at Sephora. For $18, you can try three minis and package them in an adorable box that is the perfect present for the beauty junkie in your life. Their color selection is marvelous, but the real standouts are the special effects polishes. These glitter- and confetti-flecked formulas offer color and sparkle for festively gorgeous tips and toes. For sophisticated glitz and glitter, try Antique Brooch, a stunning rose gold that perfectly emulates the look of vintage jewelry. Ciaté polishes provide fantastic coverage with two coats, and the slim, elongated handle makes for super easy application.

Creme of the crop

When all else fails, Colour Prevails! Nonie Creme Colour Prevails is an affordable line of cosmetics exclusively available at Walgreens created by manicurist Nonie Creme, former creative force of 5-free polish pioneer Butter London. Creme has maintained her commitment to keeping nail polishes 5-free and high quality with the Colour Prevails Nail Lacquer Butter Londoncollection, which is only $8 apiece.

She’s also created a genius ergonomic brush handle that, aside from making polish easy to apply, is emblazoned with a beautiful butterfly wing print. These are a no-brainer if you’re looking for stocking stuffers. My pick for holiday hotness is the vampy La Moss, a sexy, deep burgundy that is a more sophisticated spin on black polish but still speaks to my inner goth kid. This polish glides on smoothly, and the Lacquer Locker Topcoat amps up the shine.

These 5-free nail polish brands make it easy to expand your clean beauty routine and experiment with colors and textures in your nail designs.