A typical morning skincare routine can involve upwards of a dozen products, from cologne to concealer, perfume to powder. What’s in those cosmetics, lotions, and potions? Oftentimes, a whole host of potentially toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and other nasties.
Happily, there’s another way. Many cosmetics companies have realized the toll that standard products can take on our health and the environment and have developed high quality alternatives that perform at the highest level without toxic ingredients.
To help you find the best non-toxic, eco-friendly cosmetics, we pore over ingredient lists, examine the science, and scrutinize the credentials of companies marketing ‘natural’ nail polish, mascara, and more to figure out which cosmetics really are safe and sustainably made.
We’re constantly adding new reviews for products to Leaf Score, so keep checking those out. In the meantime, here are our top picks for eco-friendly, non-toxic cosmetics. You can read about our unique research process here.
In case you’re in a hurry and want to cut to the chase with our overall winners, here they are:
- Best overall non-toxic nail polish – Honeybee Gardens Nail Polish (View Price on Walmart)
- Best glitter nail polish – Keeki Pure & Simple Glitter Polish (View Price on Amazon)
- Best kid-safe nail polish – Kid Licks ‘Edible’ Nail Polish (View Price on Kid Licks)
Honeybee Gardens Nail Polish
Honeybee Gardens (View Price on Walmart) polish is a vegan-friendly, water-based nail polish that is non-GMO, paraben-free, gluten-free, and free from: formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), xylene, camphor, benzophenone-1, and FD&C colors, as well as nitrocellulose resin, animal ingredients, and triphenyl phosphate. This makes it one of the least toxic nail polishes around and my top pick for Leaf Score. It’s also well rated by the Environmental Working Group, has rave reviews online, and is made in Pennsylvania, USA.
Honeybee Gardens currently offer nail polish in at least 26 colors, including matt, iridescent, and shimmer options. The colors have amazing names such as Abyss, Burlesque and Island Orchid, as well as Glowing Ember, Hippie Chick, Sweater Weather, Victorian Lace, Raspberry Sorbet, and Surf’s Up.
Honeybee Gardens also offer their ENDURE Primer/Sealer, which they say can extend the life of your manicure by 2-3 times. And, when you’re done with the polish, you can easily remove it with a dab of vodka or rubbing alcohol. No need for nail polish remover.
Because it is water-based, the film formed by the polish becomes more difficult to dissolve with time. The company recommends you remove the polish at or before one week of wear.
Honeybee Gardens don’t test any of their products on animals and all products, including their ’12-free’ polish have been reviewed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, earning a score of 2 or lower. They are also Feingold certified. Read our full review here.
Keeki Pure & Simple Glitter Polish
Keeki’s water-based Pure & Simple polishes are, as described, both pure and simple, containing water, acrylate copolymer, glycol, and various colorants. They are certified Cruelty-Free and Leaping Bunny certified, are made in the USA, and are vegan-friendly.
These polishes are affordable, free from all the major toxic chemicals, and come in a range of fun colors, including various glitter polish (View Price on Amazon) shades that get their shimmer from mica rather than microplastics. Read our full review here.
Kid Licks – ‘Edible’ Nail Polish (not vegan)
Kid Licks seem to have a reputation as being made from fruits and vegetables, but if you look at the ingredients list, they’re mostly made of alcohol and confectioner’s glaze, which is made of shellac (purified lac resin). Raw lac resin contains around 25% insect matter, making shellac unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans, and also putting paid to Kid Licks claim that their polishes are cruelty-free.
All this said, the only other ingredients in Kid Licks nail polish are the colors. These include titanium dioxide, blue 1 lake, blue 2 lake, red 3, red 40 lake, yellow 5 lake, and yellow 6 lake, meaning this polish is not free of FD&C colors.
Only some FD&C colors are problematic, though, and the ones listed above don’t seem to pose any health concerns, with the possible exception of red 3. Given that these polishes are described as edible I’d want a little more assurance over the ingredients before painting them on my child’s nails. That said, they’re certainly one of the least toxic nail polishes around and likely your best bet for kid-safe polish.
Because the Kid Licks polishes are simply alcohol (which evaporates) and resin, with some colorants, they won’t last long on nails. Indeed, they can be removed just using alcohol, followed by a rinse with soap and water.