Scientists have discovered that painting your nails can expose you to toxins that disrupt your body.
Nail polish contains an ingredient called triphenyl phosphate (TPHP). TPHP is used in plastics and to make furniture fireproof. In nail polish, it is used to make the polish more flexible. But this compound often goes unmarked on nail polish labels. In a recent study, researchers found that TPHP is linked to several health issues. These issues obesity, reproductive issues, hormone irregularities, and other problems related to hormones.
TPHP is Not Always on the Label
It might seem like painting your nails would not be the most likely way to bring toxins into your body. After all, it is not like you are ingesting them. But a recent report from Duke University suggests that TPHP can actually absorbed by your body right after you paint your nails.
In the study, researchers from the Environmental Working Group and Duke University tested 10 different nail polishes. These 10 products did not list TPHP on the list of ingredients. The tests were designed to determine if any of the products contained TPHP anyway. This test is important because not all manufacturers disclose using this product on their labels. Surprisingly, researchers found traces of this compound in eight out of the 10 bottles they tested.
This is a huge finding on its own. The Environmental Working Group has a database called Skin Deep which lists the ingredients of beauty products. According to the database, only 49% of the 3,000 listed nail polishes in the database include TPHP in their lists of ingredients. But if this study is anything to go buy, more manufacturers may use it than previously thought.
Until recently, people knew little about TPHP and its toxicity, although, Dr. Lev Kalika, owner of NYDN Rehab, had warned about its effects.
TPHP Can Alter Hormones
A 2014 study showed that rats which were exposed to a flame retarded with 20% TPHP grew to be obese. The females also saw differences in their hormones and those exposed to the flame retardant went through puberty early. Another experiment showed that exposure to TPHP antagonized male hormone receptors while also stimulated female sex hormone receptors. These changes could suggest that the compound can alter the reproductive function of humans.
But it was the Duke University study that showed far more distressing results.
In the study, the research team requested that volunteers paint fake nails with nail polish while wearing plastic gloves. They then tested urine samples for the volunteers to look for DPHP, the compound that is created when the human body has metabolized DPHP. When the polish was painted on fake nails, there was little change.
However, when the volunteers painted their natural nails with nail polish, the levels of DPHP increased seven times over. This drew the team to the conclusion that nail polish can result in short-term exposure to this chemical. For those who get regular manicures, it might even result in a long-term hazard.
Be Sure to Stay Aware
Most people realize that their bath and beauty products are packed with chemicals. It can be hard to avoid them unless you go out of your way to buy natural or organic products. The problem is that although people know that these alternatives exist, many are not financially accessible. Young people are more likely to choose the drugstore brand over the high-end organic products because those products cost so much less.
Everyone should be wary of these chemicals. But this awareness is especially important for children and teenagers. They are in a phase where they have not yet finished developing. These hormone changes in young people can lead to obesity, irregular sex hormone production, and early onset puberty.
Although you cannot force teenagers to spend all of their money on one safer bottle of nail polish, parents can encourage them to use them responsibly. By encouraging young people to make sure to give their bodies a break from nail polish and make up, parents can help keep them safe from the harmful effects of TPHP.
Featured photo credit: Courtney Rhodes via flickr.com