Glue. Embalming Fluid. Nail Polish.
One of these things is not like the others. Or is it?
Actually, all three typically contain formaldehyde, a colorless gas compound that also is a carcinogen, meaning that it causes cancerous cell growth. And while it's no secret that I place a premium on looking pretty, good health is a building block of great looks.
So, to skip the carcinogens but keep the manicures, I've rounded up a bevy of lacquers that are long-lasting, lovely and formaldehyde-free.
The Zoya Nail Polish collection offers more than 300 colors that go well beyond basics, like "Casey," a deep eggplant, and "Austine," a metallic gold.
The collection was created in 1984 when then-pregnant esthetician Zoya Reyzis foresaw the need for a nail polish free of harmful chemicals and carcinogens. More than two decades later, the Zoya collection offers up high-fashion hues with a healthy sensibility.
I'm a fan of Zoya's Color Lock System, available in a five-step kit that promises to protect nail color while preventing flaking and chipping. The kit includes Remove, Anchor Basecoat, Armor Topcoat and Hurry Up Speed Dry Drops ($36 at artofbeauty.com) and promises "50 percent longer polish wear guaranteed."
Those looking for carcinogen-free nail color will love Nubar's hip hues such as "Geisha Blaze," a striking hot pink; "Autumn Sunset," a shimmering russet; and "Blackberry" a must have berry-black for fall. Nubar nail lacquers are available online for $6.99 at bynubar.com.
Another great Nubar product is Nail Clear, a nail mask for whitening nails and erasing stains sometimes left behind by harsher polishes. No need to soak nails, just brush on the mask and peel away.
The key ingredient is grapefruit extract, an organic whitener that is also an effective antifungal.
Citra Formaldehyde Free by Nail Tek ($15 at nailtek.com) is an effective nail strengthener with a natural citrus-based alternative to formaldehyde. Citra is available in three formulas, one for healthy nails, one for soft, peeling nails and another for dry, brittle nails.
No need to break the bank to stay pretty and healthy. I found a few formaldehyde-free polishes that are so affordable you have no excuse not to kick that nasty carcinogenic color habit:
• Beauty Department Store Ulta boasts their own private-label polish called Shimmer Finish Salon Formula Nail Laquer ($5 at ulta.com). Keep an eye out for special offers such as the current buy one, get one free, or complimentary shipping for online purchases.
• L'Oreal Pro Manicure Nail Polish ($3.49 at drugstore.com) comes in a variety of shades, all formaldehyde-free of course. I like "Trust Fund Baby," a classic pink.