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Tips & Tricks: What Does 5-Free Mean?

You may have come across terms like 3-Free, 4-Free, or 5-Free in the past when shopping for nail polish. But what does that mean? b-glowing.com is here to give you the 411 on what your lacquer is  leaving out!

Updated July 03, 2013 by Erika Damboise

Tips & Tricks: What Does 5-Free Mean?

You may have come across terms like 3-Free, 4-Free, or 5-Free in the past when shopping for nail polish. But what does that mean? b-glowing.com is here to give you the 411 on what your lacquer is  leaving out!

3-Free: When you see 3-Free on a nail polish, it means it is made without the use of: Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), or Formaldehyde.

4-Free: When you see 5-Free on a nail polish, it means it is made without the use of: Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde, or Camphor.

5-Free: When you see 5-Free on a nail polish, it means it is made without the use of: Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, or Camphor.

What are these ingredients? Why are they used in the first place?

Toluene: Helps polish go on smoothly. Also found in gasoline, rubber cement, and shoe polish. Inhaling products containing toluene causes light-headedness, nausea and even unconsciousness and sometimes death. It's also linked to developmental damage for pregnant women.

Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP): Prevents your polish from chipping and cracking. Also found in adhesives, printing ink, and plastics. It's been designated a reproductive and developmental toxin.

Formaldehyde: Makes polish tough and resistant. Most commonly found in nail strengtheners, not polish. It's also directly linked to nasal sinus cancer and the development of leukemia.

Formaldehyde Resin: A less toxic version of formaldehyde, this ingredient is still considered a skin allergen that can cause dermatitis.

Camphor: Helps polish adhere to your nails. Also used as a moth repellent, used in the embalming process, and found in fireworks. While it is less hazardous than the "Toxic 3", it does cause skin irritation and is poisonous when ingested in large doses. Nail biters beware!

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