How Safe is Nail Polish for Kids?

As children grow and learn, they start finding new ways to express themselves creatively. One of the ways that your child may start to be inspired is by painting their nails! This can be a fun way for children to learn colors and practice their fine motor skills. However, you may be worried about how old a kid needs to be in order to paint their nails. Is nail polish even safe for kids?

This article is all about which nail polishes are safe for kids, so you and your little one can be happy and start creating kid nail art!

What to Look for in Kid’s Nail Polish

The most important thing to look for when determining if a nail polish is safe for your child is by checking to see if it is non-toxic. You should read the ingredient labels on the brand you are using to check for a list of the chemicals that they use.

Some chemicals found in regular nail polish that you should watch out for include:

Formaldehyde – prolonged exposure to this chemical can cause respiratory problems and even cancer.

Toluene – this chemical is used in paint thinners and other cleaning products. If ingested in large amounts it can cause issues with the nervous system and upper respiratory system.

Dibutyl phthalate – this chemical has been linked to birth defects and is currently banned in the European Union. Johnson and Johnson have stopped using this chemical as well as the popular nail polish brand OPI.

None of these chemicals should be ingested by children. We recommend not using chemical nail polishes at all, and certainly not if you have a toddler who loves to stick their fingers and toes in their mouth. Also, if you are taking your child to a salon to have their nails done, make sure there is excellent ventilation to avoid any headaches or health risks.

A good alternative to these types of nail polishes is a water-based rather than a solvent-based nail polish. Obviously, you still shouldn’t be ingesting any nail polish and if your children are really too young to be trusted, you should keep any nail polish out of their reach. However, your child won’t get sick when you use a child-friendly nail polish.

Kid-Friendly Nail Polish

Luckily, there are tons of child-friendly nail polish brands on the market that are safe for kids of all ages to wear! These products contain none of the harsh chemicals listed above, so you can even put polish on your toddler’s tiny little toes and not have to worry if they stick them in their mouth! If you want to make sure that a specific brand is safe for children, the Environmental Working Group has a nail polish directory that rates the safety of certain products.

Look for brands that are free from food-allergens, are non-toxic, solvent-free, and fragrance-free. You can also find kid’s nail polishes that are organic, natural, vegan, and cruelty-free.

Choosing an odorless nail polish is also a good option as the strong smell of nail polish can cause headaches in some young children. These nail polishes are also safe for women to use during pregnancy and have a long shelf life, often lasting for several years if you add water to them.

Water-Based Nail Polish

Water-based nail polishes are a great alternative to solvent-based nail polishes and work especially well for kids. Water-based polishes however, take longer to dry (only because they are missing the harsh quick-drying chemicals) and may recommend using a blow dry to help speed up the process. Obviously you should monitor young children if they are using a blow dryer. Don’t have the heat turned up too hot, and make sure to keep the cord and outlet safely away from any water.

Water-based nail polish is also easier to clean up if your child spills it. You just need to clean it up as quickly as possible!

Water-based nail polish is typically not as long-lasting as solvent-based nail polish, but that’s okay! It’s a fair trade-off for adult nail polishes that are filled with toxic chemicals. Besides, kids don’t need to worry about having professional-looking nails for the week. They just want to have fun and try out new colors! It is maybe even a benefit, as kids tend to get bored with things very quickly and will want to change their colors often.

Kids are also just harder on nails than adults are. Kids are busy playing, learning, and creating all day and probably not so concerned with keeping their nails perfectly chip-free. Toe polish tends to last a day or two longer than nail polish. Most kids nail polishes will come off if you soak them in warm water, or in the bathtub.

You can also purchase non-toxic, natural nail polish removers. These don’t smell as strongly as regular nail polish removers do, and they won’t do as much damage to your hardwood floors if kids end up spilling them. Look for removers that are odorless and contain no acetone. It is also a bonus if aloe vera and vitamin E are added as they help to supplement the natural oils found in your nails. Regular nail polish removers can often strip your nails of their oils and proteins which are needed for healthy growth. You’ll want to protect and enhance your children’s nails.

Why Wear Kid’s Nail Art?

The great thing about kid nail art is that you can use it as a reward. Kids love bright and shiny things and you can use kid nails as something fun to do after a task has been completed. You can also use nail art to bond with your kid. There are even some salons that specifically offer kids mani-pedis.

It is up to you to decide whether or not you want your child to be wearing nail polish. Keep in mind that some pre-schools have rules about whether or not nail polish is allowed. However, if you do decide that you want your children to be able to experience the fun and creativity that comes with kids nail art, then there are tons of options to make sure that the polish is safe for your child!

Photo by Alex Pasarelu on Unsplash