Should Vegans Wear Nail Polish?

About a week ago, I painted my nails for the first time in at least six months. I had almost forgotten what it was like to fill a room with the smell of chemicals, the process of waiting what seems like forever for my nails to dry. My husband even commented that he couldn’t remember the last time he saw me painting my nails–honestly, neither could I. This was the result of an article I read that brought to my attention that my nail polish might be not be vegan because many contain animal products or are tested on animals.

Nail Polish & Animal Cruelty

According to an article by the Flaming Vegan, most common nail polishes actually contain animal products. Unless you know all of the chemicals containing animal products by heart (Check out PETA’s list of animal-derived ingredients), then you probably won’t easily be able to identify which nail polishes are “safe” for you to use as a vegan. The Flaming Vegan mentions guanine, carmine, and oleic acid, which are derived from fish,  beetles, and animal fats. If you’re not comfortable consuming such ingredients as food, why would you want to put them on your nails? Moreover, many common brands, like Sally or OPI, test their nail polishes on animals, according to PETA.

Human Health Concerns 

Beyond being concerned for the animals, you should be concerned for your health too. The reason nail salons, or your own home, smell pretty bad when you’re getting your nails done is because nail polishes do, in fact, contain some pretty strong chemicals, and as noted in an article by The Huffington Post, “our body can absorb chemicals through nail polish.” The article describes that a chemical called triphenyl phosphate, which is found in most nail polishes, has been found to be absorbed by the body through nail application and could potentially affect the body’s hormones. However, there is not enough substantial evidence to be certain that the chemical has these effects, but in my opinion, why even risk it?

Vegan Nail Polish Options

If you’re a fan of painting your nails, do not feel completely dismayed: There are options for you! The Flaming Vegan recommends checking out brands like Color Club or 1143 H20, and of course, PETA recommends several brands, some of which include  Wet ‘n Wild, Pacifica, and Urban Decay (Click here to explore their entire list), many of which can be purchased at popular beauty stores like Ulta Beauty or Sephora. To make shopping for the right nail polish a bit easier, I also highly recommend reviewing PETA’s  list of beauty brands that do not test on animals, which can be found here; likewise, in order to be aware of what brands to avoid, I highly suggest checking out their list of beauty brands that do test on animals, which can be found here.

What I’ve Opted to Do

If you were only recently made aware that your nail polish may not be vegan friendly, like me, you may find yourself in a bit of an awkward situation. For instance, I personally still own a lot of nail polish that is still good but isn’t vegan. To me, it would feel wasteful to throw all of it away and replace it. However, I also feel uncomfortable using non-vegan products, especially ones that may contain animal fat–yuck. For now, I’m opting to significantly reduce my use of nail polish, which means only painting my nails every once in a while, and the next time I need a new nail polish, I definitely plan to purchase one of the options recommended by the Flaming Vegan or PETA.

Are you a vegan that wears nail polish? What’s your opinion on this hot topic?

The featured photo was taken by Rashid Khreiss. Find more of his work at


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