If you flashback ten years to me in high school that Jenna would never even dream of saying she will be banning nail polish from her life. I used to paint my nails every single day. Every. Single. Day. I would come home from school and sit in my room painting my nails with fun colors, intricate designs, and weird patterns. It was the thing my friends always said about me - Jenna, the girl with all the different nail polish. When I got my first part time job and I wanted to spend my money in ‘a more grown up way’ I upgraded to a nail salon. I started getting my nails painted and then eventually went over into the dark side of acrylics. Then after a year or so I went even further and I had acrylics and gel polish every two weeks. Okay, good bye to all my money! At some point I stopped getting acrylics and I started to let my nails grow out and heal naturally but as expected I got sucked right back into that acrylic vortex and I was back at the nail salon every two weeks. It honestly was madness and I wish I could tell younger me to get it together and give up the fake nails. I mean I was born with a set of ten finger nails - I don’t need to purchase a new set every two weeks!
Eventually I started to dread going there. I always had to wait a really long time, my nails hurt when they were done filing, gluing, and painting, and it was really expensive. By my junior year of college I swore off acrylic nails and nail salons. My nails were DESTROYED. I mean they were as brittle as can be, so thin, and they looked treacherous. I kept them trimmed short and always kept a clear coat of nail polish on them or whatever ‘fancy’ nail repair treatment I was currently using. It took about 18 months for my nails to really grow out and grow strong again. I will never destroy my nails with acrylics again. The worst part of having my nails done wasn’t even the money. It was the way it ruined my nails and my cuticles. I still find that a few of my finger nails grow a bit strange just from being suffocated for so long by the acrylics.
When my nails started to heal I went back to my old ways of painting my nails almost every day - usually just to kill time. I felt like I had to paint my nails because I owned all this nail polish and I didn’t want to waste it. All my friends always painted their nails and we would hang out, girl talk, and paint our nails but I didn’t enjoy it anymore. I didn’t care if my nails got chipped. I would leave nail polish on for weeks that was chipped and scrappy looking just because I didn’t want to paint my nails anymore. And most annoying of all was the dry time. Waiting for my nails to dry so I could do something else was actually painful at this point. I had out-painted myself. I would say for the next two years leading up to this past year I would paint my nails once every few months. I had started to decrease my polish collection by giving it to my friends, donating it to local girls homes, or just throwing away ones that were old and no good any more. Just before the holidays Kel and I went through our bathroom and cleaned out all the products we don’t use or that had expired and nail polish was a part of that. Kel also rarely paints her nails anyways and ended up getting rid of the 5 different shades of blue she had. I kept less than a handful of colors I liked. But I honestly have not painted my nails since we did that so I am getting rid of the rest of my colors! If you haven’t been able to tell from previous posts Kel and I are very minimalist and do not like to keep things around that we do not use or that do not bring us joy.
So other than just wearing myself out and getting tired of keeping up my nails with polish I started to educate myself on what nail polish was actually doing to my nails and my health. I guess I never really thought about all the chemicals that are in nail polish. Every time I put polish on my nails I was allowing these chemicals to absorb into my nails and my skin. While you can find some companies that make nail polish that is free of toxins you won’t be finding them easily. Most mainstream companies that manufacture nail polish and nail polish remover are producing these products with chemicals and toxins that are harmful to you and the environment. In recent years most companies label their products as three free which means they are leaving out dibutyl phthalate (DnBP), toluene, and formaldehyde which are the most toxic ingredients in nail polish. Substitutes for these aren’t necessarily any better for your health so really look at what you are putting on your nails. It is hard to understand what all the long names for ingredients are in nail polish so find resources like this one where you can read about what each ingredient is, understand if it is toxic, and how it may be affecting your inner organs and health.
Keeping in line with my goals for this year, eliminating nail polish from my life is making me happier, keeping my minimalist goals in check, and making strides towards my healthy life. I encourage you to take a look at your beauty products - nail polish, makeup, hair products, etc. Take a look at the ingredients and try to understand how they are affecting your health.