I do have sensitive skin – holding a Christmas tree or strawberries can make my hands go all red, blotchy and itchy – but I’ve never noticed it happening with nail polish before. However! You can’t be too careful and so it’s nice to know that beauty brands are thinking more about the stuff they put into nail polish and the stuff they leave out, to try to make them that little bit friendlier to our bodies.
Of course, it’s all very well having a ‘friendly’ nail polish, but if the colours available are hideous and the application streaky, then no-one will wear it. I like nail polish that has a smooth, almost jelly-like finish when it’s dry – I don’t tend to wear anything sparkly or pearlescent, and in the summer I favour Opal Fruit shades of strawberry pink and juicy orange that are shiny, but not too shiny. Could the ‘friendly’ nail polishes deliver?
Clinique A Different Nail Enamel For Sensitive SkinsClinique’s scientists spent six years developing this nail enamel with the aim of minimising skin sensitivity and allergic reactions from the nails, skin and eyes. I always think when a global beauty brand gets behind a concept, you’re going to get something good because they have the technology and resources to do it properly, and in this case that’s exactly what’s happened.
The polish glides on smoothly with a thin, flat brush and only needs a couple of coats max to give strong coverage with no streaks – it feels like there’s a lot of pigment, it’s definitely not wishy-washy. I love ‘Really Rio’ - a fresh, zingy coral shade – it’s exactly what I was looking for to wear this summer anyway and so the fact that it’s dermatologist tested, ophthalmologist tested and appropriate for sensitive skins and sensitive eyes is a bonus really.
There are twelve permanent and nine limited edition shades to choose from, plus a corresponding base and top coat that are both suitable for sensitive skin too. £12, available nationwide
Priti NYCKim D’Amato founded Priti NYC when she was pregnant and figured that if you want to avoid nasties in your cleaning products, it would follow that you’d be keen to do the same with your make-up. She developed a non-toxic polish free from formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates, camphor and colophony that's safe enough for pregnant women and kids to wear. She mixes custom shades for catwalk shows and fashion shoots and these find their way into the permanent collection.
Priti might be the oldest eco (and human)-friendly nail polish around and there are many things I love about the brand, but the main one is probably the names – I know nail polishes often have fanciful titles, but Priti’s take it to the next level. ‘Love Lies Bleeding’, ‘Blue Eyed Brunette’ and ‘Hedgehog Rose’ are three of my favourites. 'Bovey Belle Carnation' is an incredible blue-y fuchsia, but my favourite for summer toes is always 'Flamingo Flower' – a vibrant orangey-red.
Oh and the Soy Polish Remover is incredible – I’m not saying you could drink it or anything, but it is a damn sight better than the regular removers that smell in a sinister way of pear drops. This is more of an oil that actually nourishes nails while you’re taking the polish off with it and you can choose from lemongrass and lavender scented versions.
KorresI love ALL Korres products, from their cooling yoghurt aftersun to their intense shower gels, but I didn’t realise they make equally fantastic nail polish – with the same natural philosophy that underpins the rest of the brand. So they’ve taken out the mineral oil, paraben, silicone, acetone, phthlates, formaldehyde and all that jazz, and added in provitamin b5, oligoelements and myrrh extract.
The last ingredient is known for its antiseptic, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as for boosting hydration in the skin under the nail and making nails more flexible and less brittle. In short, this is good stuff to put on your toes, so I did – in the juicy watermelon shade of Coral Pink. I love the fact that this Greek homeopathic brand doesn’t compromise on the packaging of their products either – they are by far the prettiest things to have in your bathroom. £9, harveynichols.com
Eve SnowAnd finally we have the London-based Eve Snow Cosmetics who make a nail polish that’s worn by Rihanna. I’m more impressed by the fact that not only have they taken OUT the formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate, they’ve also added IN Gingko Bilboa Leaf, Argan Oil Extract and Vitamin E. These soften dry nails, promote the colour's longevity and protect against free radicals - essentially these active ingredients care for the health of the nails while prolonging the polish.
I think this brand had to be my favourite for ease of application - the polish glided on like silk, looked punchy with just one coat, and dried really fast to a beautiful jelly-like shiny finish. I applied two coats for the sake of longevity and painted two different shades - the neon coral 'First Kiss' and bubblegum pink 'Material Girl' - like a weirdo so you could see how pretty they look (and then went out to the Betty Magazine summer issue launch party like that.)
All in all, I am a convert to these skin-friendly, eco-friendly nail polishes. It's good to know that they've lost some of the potentially harmful toxins that polishes traditionally had, but more importantly, because I am shallow, I love the shades available and the quality of the finish. Try them and see for yourself!