Clean Beauty Monthly: Where To Find The Best Non-Toxic Nail Polish Brands – Safe, Eco & Vegan

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Is there such a thing as natural nail polish?

So far no one has managed to create a nail polish that stays on without any artificial chemicals. So, a completely natural nail polish is still in development…and if you want to stay away from questionable chemicals altogether then you’ll need to completely avoid nail polish…buffing still looks good!

However, if you want a touch of colour then this post will help you to navigate the best options for your body and your summer toes, including a plastic-free option and a best for kids choice. 

What is the major issue with nail polish?

There are many reasons to find more natural nail polish, but these are the two main ones:

  • Stop wrecking your nails – no more dry, brittle or yellow nails
  • Avoid unnecessary exposure to hormone disrupting & potential cancer-causing chemicals

Traditionally nail polishes are full of potentially toxic chemicals. The 3 that are widely accepted to be the most harmful are:

  • Formaldehyde – cancer causing chemical and should not be ingested or inhaled.
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) is banned in Europe as it has been proved to cause reproductive issues, particularly in boys.
  • Toluene – reproductive harm and dizziness.

So at the very least, all nail polishes you use should be at least free from these 3 chemicals…For example, popular mass nail brands such as OPI, Sally Hansen and Essie are free of these 3 chemicals. However, I am here to tell you that you can definitely do better than 3 free!

Navigating the free from claims

3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 free has become the way that polish manufacturers communicate to consumers about what they are not putting in their nail polishes, and it helps the brands stand out from competitors and generate eco headlines.

However, the main issue with this is there is no standard or international regulation that dictates which chemicals are being left out so one nail polish brand’s 5-Free will be different from another. Naturally, this is very confusing for us manicure lovers.

Here are some harmful ingredients to watch out for and avoid: A few others to watch out for: Camphor, Ethyl tosylamide, Xylene, Triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), Acetone, Parabens.

The best nail polishes – with the least harmful chemicals and that really work!

Green by Manucurist – Gel Option

green by Manicurist product range

Green by Manucurist is a French nail polish brand that aims to be as natural as possible. Their line is 9 free, vegan, cruelty-free and has a wide colour range. They have recently introduced a gel line as well, not as clean as the main line but much cleaner than regular gels and better for your nails!

For the lacquer polish, all the ingredients are rated safe on EWG– 1 or 2 except the actual colours – the colours are made from Lake dyes which can have contamination. It is very difficult to get good natural colour, so brands have to use artificial dyes made from petroleum or coal. And some colours have fragrance.

Where can you find it in Hong Kong: Moksa Slow Beauty

Habit Cosmetics – Plastic-Free Choice

Habitat Cosmetics Nail Polish. Source: Gabriela Parada @toomanybloggers

Habit Cosmetics is a US brand with beautiful plastic-free packaging and gorgeous colours. The polishes are 10 free and they are PETA-certified vegan and cruelty-free. The lacquer formulation has nail strengthening ingredients like myrrh extract, which helps to avoid brittle nails and flaky cuticles. 

Like with Green by Manicurist, the ingredients are mainly rated 1-2 on EWG except for the lake dyes. They have 50 shades in total and the sustainable packaging is really lovely, I especially like the bamboo lids.

Where can you find it in Hong Kong: Live Zero bulk beauty stores

Sophi & piggy paint – Best For Kids

piggy paint Water-Soluble Nail Varnish For Kids

Lastly Sophi & piggy paint – water-based vegan and cruelty-free odorless nail varnish for adults and kids

piggy paint is water based nail varnish, which could be a good option if you want a splash of colour for a special occasion. It will not last as long as solvent based polishes, but it does have significantly fewer ingredients which is basically what you want for your kiddos.

Sophi – the mums’ version of the kids brand piggy paint. Sophi is an odourless, hypoallergenic nail polish. It is a water-based formula which apparently stops nails from going yellow and brittle. Its ingredients are water, neem oil and acrylates copolymer, same as piggy paint

So, if you feel like a mum and daughter Mani Pedi then Sophi and Piggy is the way to go! Health-n-Living even suggests matching colours. And make the most of having those feet out for a few more months!

Where can you find it in Hong Kong:

Lead photo courtesy of Kleo Beaute.


  • Allie Rooke

    British Australian beauty-addict Allie Rooke has spent most of her career in Asia working for the likes of Chanel, L’Oreal and Burberry, building up her extensive industry experience. A clean beauty convert, Allie founded a business strategy consultancy to help her favourite brands enter and expand across the Asian region.

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