Beauty Buys: Safer Nail Polishes

non-toxic nail polishes
By Butterboom Writers  /  June 26, 2013

We think nothing of sporting different nail colours on our fingertips every other week or get our mani-pedis done at nail salons. But did you know that there are some toxic chemicals commonly found in many of these tiny bottles?

The nastiest ingredients are toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or what’s known collectively as the “toxic trio” linked to cancer and birth defects. Toluene, found in paint thinners, gasoline and adhesives, is added to make nail polish go on smoothly. It affects the nervous system and can cause headaches and dizziness. DBP, which prevents chips and cracks, can cause reproductive and developmental issues in baby boys while formaldehyde, a nail hardener, is carcinogenic and is an irritant to the eyes, nose, throat, and skin.

We round up our top 5 picks of 3-free nail polish brands here (free of the “toxic trio”, that is). These are not just safer alternatives, we’re equally smitten with the fabulous range of colours too!

deborah lippmann

1. Deborah Lippmann, from HK$125. The brand is created by Deborah Lipmann, manicurist to Hollywood starlets like Scarlett Johansson, Kim Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow. We love the glittery polishes and their staying power, along with catchy names inspired by popular songs such as “Boom Boom Pow” and “Bad Romance”. Available at Joyce Beauty boutiques at Lane Crawford ifc mall, Pacific Place and Times Square.


2. Ciaté, from HK$150. The British nail polish brand by celebrity session nail artist Charlotte Knight is famed for starting the “caviar manicure” trend, which gives you that beaded, three-dimensional texture like you’ve just dipped your tips in roe. Every bottle comes with a cute satin bow.  Exclusively available at Harvey Nichols Landmark and Harvey Nichols Pacific Place Beyond Beauty counters.

 priti nyc

3. Priti NYC, HK$160 each. This is founded by one of UK’s top nail technicians, Kim D’Amato. Her nail polishes are free from formaldehyde resin and camphor too. Safe to use on children and pregnant women, they’re also vegan-friendly and certified cruelty-free by PETA. Available online at and also nail salons like Nail One, 14/F, C Wisdom Center, 37 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, Tel: 2537 2991.


4. Zoya, from HK$75. A nail polish brand from USA that is also formulated without camphor. It has an amazing range of colours, which puts us in a very happy state just looking at them, plus four seasonal collections every year to suit different moods. Available online at and also Cher2, 1A, 1/F, Po Foo Building, 84-94 Percival Street, CWB, Hong Kong. Tel: 2882 2528


butter london

5. Butter LONDON, from HK$119. A cult phenomenon well-loved by fashion designers like Alexander Wang, Calvin Klein, Erdem and American celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe. It’s one of the firsts to roll out 3-free nail polishes in the USA.  Available online at, with free worldwide delivery service. Also available at Kiss Beauty Boutique, Shop 122, Windsor House, CWB, Hong Kong, Tel: 2890 9396.


Leave a Reply