The 3 Best Non-Toxic Nail Polishes 2020

We all love perfectly painted manicures. But sometimes, it’s worth thinking about the chemicals in everyday nail polishes. If you look at the back of your favourite shade, it’s unlikely that you’ll recognise any of the ingredients. All sorts of harsh chemicals are used to give that high-shine and long-lasting finish. No matter whether you’re going for a bright red or a neutral nude, traditional polishes are packed full of toxic chemicals. So, if you want to be kind to your body and your nails, we recommend non-toxic nail polishes.

Discover more about manicures and nail care in our Ultimate Guide to Nail Polish.


What Is a Non-Toxic Nail Polish?

Traditional nail polishes contained a host of ingredients that we now deem as toxic—namely Formaldehyde, DBP, and Toluene. These can have incredibly harmful effects on your body. Because nails are quite porous, chemicals are easily absorbed through the nail bed and into your body, wreaking havoc along the way.

Non-toxic nail polishes are free of nasty chemicals. All avoid the ‘big three’ ingredients, and some products eliminate other potentially harmful ingredients too.

What Are the Benefits of a Non-Toxic Nail Polish?

With a non-toxic nail polish, you can have gorgeously painted nails along with peace of mind that you aren’t damaging your health. Just because newer nail polishes don’t contain these chemicals doesn’t mean they can’t deliver stunning colours and a long-lasting finish. There really isn’t any need to choose old-school nail polishes.

Read more about long-lasting formulas and keeping your mani looking pristine in How Can I Make My Nail Polish Last Longer?.

What Is 3 Free and 5 Free Nail Polish?

You may have heard the terms ‘3-free’ and ‘5-free’ when shopping for non-toxic nail polish. But what exactly do they mean? Standard nail polish is now ‘3-free’, meaning it doesn’t contain Formaldehyde, DBP, or Toluene. But it’s important to note that regulations of this are different throughout the world. A 5-free nail varnish takes things a step further and excludes Camphor and Formaldehyde Resin. These two ingredients are known allergens that can cause dermatitis and inhalation problems when presented in high doses. Read on to discover our favourite 5-free nail polish brands.

Is Non-Toxic Nail Polish Kid-Safe and Pregnancy-Safe?

We always recommend non-toxic nail polish for pregnancy, as dangerous chemicals can easily absorb into your body and harm your unborn child and you. Toluene especially is known to be harmful to fetuses. So, the greater the number of natural products you use in your pregnancy, the better. We also suggest non-toxic kid-safe nail polish to avoid exposing your little ones to nasty toxins.



Our Top Three Non-Toxic Nail Polish Brands


Butter London

Butter London was founded in 2005 with the aim of providing high-quality toxin-free nail polishes in a vast selection of gorgeous shades. The brand’s 3-free polishes are formulated without Formaldehyde, Toluene, and Dibutyl Phthalate. These non-toxic polishes ensure maximum shine and longevity without using harsh chemicals. Butter London’s bestselling Patent Shine 10x Nail Lacquer collection uses shock-resisting polymer technology to create a gel-like effect and maximum shine. This means a chip-free finish for up to 10 days without the need for UV rays.

Read more about gel-effect polishes in What Nail Polishes Give a Gel Finish Without UV Lights?


Smith & Cult

Iconic nail brand Smith & Cult boasts impressive 8-free polishes, which are free of all chemical nasties. This is one of the most luxurious non-toxic nail brands available. Smith & Cult polishes are also vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, and gluten-free. These nail enamels come in a large variety of flattering shades for all different tastes and styles. Read more on choosing a nail polish shade in Which Nail Polish Colour is Best for My Skintone?.

Whether it’s a nude or a glitter, Smith & Cult polish applies easily to your nails and provides a long-lasting finish.


Barry M

If you’ve been wondering whether your favourite Barry M nail polish is non-toxic, we’ve got good news! Barry M nail paints are vegan, cruelty-free, and non-toxic, which means you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy polishes free of harmful chemicals. This affordable brand is known and loved for its extensive selection of nail polishes. A load of different formulas and finishes are available to suit different tastes and trends. One of our favourites is the Coconut Infusion range, which combines Coconut Oil and Coconut Water in the polish to hydrate and protect the nails from environmental aggressors.


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The Best Non-Toxic Nail Polish Remover

Now that you’ve found your perfect polish, it’s important to remove it carefully. Some nail polish removers can be incredibly harsh on the skin and nails, undoing the effort you put into choosing and using a non-toxic polish! butter LONDON Scrubbers 2-in-1 Prep & Remover Wipes effortlessly remove polish in just one swipe without the need for harsh chemicals.


For more ways to remove your polish, browse through What's the Best Way to Remove Stubborn Nail Polish?


The Signature Butter LONDON Manicure


Discover Our Top Tips for Looking After Your Nails


Brand and product inclusions are at the sole discretion of Adore Beauty’s highly trained Customer Service team. We do not seek or accept payment from brands or individuals listed in our guides.