My Top 5 Toluene-Free Nail Colors For Fall

My body doesn't like toluene, and luckily, there are lots of nail polishes that no longer use this once-common ingredient. These are my favorites for the next few months.
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Publish date:
September 11, 2013
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nail polishes, essence, health, obsessive compulsive cosmetics, estee lauder, topshop, toluene, Morgan Taylor

In the last few years, you've probably heard of a number of nail polishes that are--or have switched to--"3-free" or "5-free" formulas. Sadly, this does not refer to a buy-one-get-however-many-free deal. Instead, 3-free means there's no toluene, dibutyl phthalate or formaldehyde; 5-free lacks those, as well as formaldehyde resin and camphor.

These ingredients have been used in nail polishes for years, but there are concerns about their effects on human health. For example, toluene is a solvent that's been found to cause nausea, nervous-system damage if you huff it, and maaaaaybe cancer (the jury's out).

Like so many of us, I'm not one to hear nasty rumors about ingredients and rush to eliminate them from my life. Virtually everything that serves us positively in one way can harm us in another, and I believe in approaching these kinds of things with a level head and a pocket full of research.

So, you may recall that I was taking the ALCAT, or Antigen Leukocyte Cellular Antibody Test, to identify food intolerances. (I'm a cynic when it comes to things like this, and so are plenty of medical professionals out there, but my health insurance covered it, and I'm willing to try pretty much anything to get some relief from my autoimmune issues at this point.) What I didn't realize is that I'd also receive a list of environmental chemicals that my body is sensitive to.

And whaddaya know?

So while I don't have a severe intolerance to toluene and wasn't inhaling it for kicks (the most fatal way to use it, duh), I decided to eliminate it--and the nail polishes it's in--from my life.

And, thus, in picking out the nail colors that will be in heavy rotation for me this fall, I went with brands whose polishes are known to be toluene-free (and other-stuff-free, too).

MY FALL RED: Morgan Taylor Professional Nail Lacquer in Fire Cracker (Hey, that rhymed!)

I've never been big on burgundy polishes because that seems to be what everyone falls back on as soon as it's under 70 degrees. Just like with my lipsticks, I like my reds a little on the orange side, and Fire Cracker is the perfect never-looks-magenta shade.

The formula is a little on the light side, so two coats are a must to get opacity.

MY FALL NEUTRAL: Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Rose Gold

Surprise! A really big beauty corporation is paying attention to ingredients. Isn't that nice?

I've been relying on that mushroom/greige shade that was cool for two seconds two years ago (or never) for way too long, so I decided to make my fall neutral a little less... neutral. True in color to actual rose gold jewelry, this shade goes with everything but also stands out.

This goes on opaque in one miraculous coat. Very impressive.

MY FALL ALMOST-BLACK: Essence Colour & Go in Deep Sea, Baby

This is a super-dark green that reminds me of the argument I got in with my mom when she bought an Acura a few years ago and I was like, "I'm surprised you went with black," and she was like, "It's green," and I was like, "You're crazy," and then I saw it in the sun and had to admit she was right.

Colour & Go has become one of my favorite nail polishes because all of the colors go on smoothly and dry in a heartbeat, and they're so very cheap. Good times.

MY FALL WACKADOO COLOR: Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Nail Lacquer in Man by Man

This is a bold, green that falls somewhere between kelly and teal, loaded with gold shimmer. There is nothing practical or reasonable about this color unless you decided to wear it to a Christmas party, but DON'T GET AHEAD OF YOURSELF--we're talking about fall.

In addition to being icky-stuff-free, OCC's nail polishes are also vegan, which is very nice and also guilt-inducing.

MY IT'S-OK-TO-WEAR-A-LIGHT-COLOR COLOR: Topshop Nails in Venus Fly Trap

There's no rule that states you can't keep wearing lighter shades of nail polish just because the month ends in -ber. I love this pistachio-green (I guess I'm really feeling green this fall) because it's almost-pastel but not Easter-y and bright without being summer-neon.

I'll probably wear this color, like, right now because it's such a nice transitional shade.

What colors have you been setting aside for the autumnal equinox? Are you pro-burgundy? Are you one of those people who always spells burgundy "burgandy"? Ugh.