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Green & Gorgeous: Water-Based Nail Polish

Welcome to the first post in a new monthly series here at Simple Organic: Green & Gorgeous. The first Friday of each month will be focused on eco-friendly beauty. Sometimes, I might highlight a current green beauty trend, or perhaps provide new tips for old techniques. Living the healthy green life is important, but there’s no harm in looking good while we do it!

So, today I want to talk about nail polish.

Nail polish is really fun to apply and wear – there are so many colors, it’s easy to create new looks, and it’s relatively inexpensive. But traditional nail polish contains many toxic, harmful ingredients. The strong odor alone tells you that it’s not really something we want to be absorbing.

Nail polish ingredients typically include formaldehyde, toluene, acetone, phthalates, and FD&C colors. The risks associated with these chemicals include everything from birth defects to hormone disruption to increased cancer risks – not to mention the damage they do to the environment.  But I love having my toe nails painted in the summer! So what’s a girl to do?

Photo by Francesco Prudenzi

I recently discovered water-based nail colors.

And let me tell you, ladies, it’s exciting. Water-based nail polishes don’t contain any of those dangerous chemical solvents.  They are non-toxic and long-wearing.  Depending on the brand, they are either removed with rubbing alcohol or they are peel-off.  Some brands also make their own non-toxic removers, as well as other nail conditioners and lotions.

There are also some lines of water-based nail color made specifically for young girls, with fun and crazy colors.  If your daughter loves to have her nails painted, this is a great option because it is non-toxic, so if the nails get chewed on, you don’t need to worry so much about what your daughter might be ingesting.

If you are looking for a way to keep your nails colorful without overloading your body or the planet with toxins, water-based nail polish is the answer!  Look it up online, and you will find quite a few brands out there.  Personally, the brand I tried worked really well, and I was quite pleased.

Happy painting!

Do you love to have perfectly painted nails? Have you ever tried water-based polish?

Reading Time:

2 minutes





  1. Kit

    Who makes them? Where are they available? I’d love to try them. Sounds like a great alternative!

  2. Angie

    I would love to hear brands that people have had good experience with! Thanks for the great info!!!

  3. Kara

    I LOVE the idea of Green & Gorgeous Fridays. I would also like to hear what brand of nail polish Katie is talking about.

    As for me, I’ve been looking into these:

  4. Katie

    As far as brands, I have seen Honeybee, Acquarella, Suncoat, and Sula. The latter is the one I tried – I found it at Anthropologie. I haven’t seen other brands in stores (although I’m sure some of them are) but they are all available online – some at! I have also seen Piggy Paint and Hopscotch Kids, marketed specifically for littler girls.

  5. Kathryn

    This is fabulous! I had no idea this option existed, and it would be great for us. DD and I both love painting our nails but hardly ever do it because we both are extremely sensitive to the odor/chemicals. I’ll definitely be checking out this option in time for sandal season!

  6. Kara

    Painted toes has been one of my “hold-outs” on our green journey … and I’ve always felt a little guilty about it. Thanks for passing along options on how to have cute toes and a guilt-free conscience, too 🙂

    Looking forward to Green and Gorgeous Fridays!
    .-= Kara’s last blog: 5 Tips for Creating Family Routines and Establishing Rhythm in Your Home =-.

  7. Kika

    I buy Suncoat products for my two daughters. The little girls stuff washes off so easily (which is what I want for my four year old) and the adult version, which my 10 yr old uses, stays on for days and has nice colors. A couple of my friends put an order in with me last time and like the product too. The price is definitely worth it for me, knowing that we’re not breathing in (or wearing) toxins – I can smell the difference between other drug store products my daughter was using!

  8. Nikki Moore

    This is so timely! I just wrote a blog about hazardous chemicals in beauty products, and toxins in nail polish was one of the worst ones I read about. I use some Honeybee Gardens makeup (I love their mascara) so I might try their polish. Thanks!
    .-= Nikki Moore’s last blog: on your skin=in your body. =-.

  9. Jenny levy


    LOVE the article..
    I really love the brand MEZAYA, I think they are a new company. I bought their polishes from I’m a convert to water based polishes now!!!!!

  10. Wendy

    Fantastic! I’ll have to look for these.
    .-= Wendy’s last blog: Kenzie and Kam =-.

  11. Lauren

    I’ve been recently looking at water based nail polishes. I use nail polish on my daughter and I don’t want to expose her to the nasty chemicals in most commercial polishes. Plus, I also chew on my own nails from time to time (I know I know!)
    Thanks for informing me more on water based polishes 🙂

  12. melissa

    I have seen water based nail polishes at bed bath and beyond… I am not sure which brand(s) I am hoping to buy one or two along w the suggested polish and introduce my nail salon to the products. I am hoping if I bring a sock w me they can easily remove the water based product. Heard that people suggest a sock or felt fabric to speed up polish removal from the nail.

    Good luck happy shopping and painting. :+)

    Long Island- mom of 2

  13. Jane Levington

    My sister is always placing nail polish on her nails. I will share this blog to her. I am sure she will like it. Thanks for the post.

  14. Horne20MARSHA

    Some time ago, I really needed to buy a car for my corporation but I didn’t have enough money and couldn’t order something. Thank heaven my mate suggested to get the loans from reliable creditors. Therefore, I did that and used to be happy with my college loan.

  15. Brooke Lemberg

    I just get a bottle of eco-friendly non-toxic clearcoat, and use any nontoxic water-based paint (ie Crayola) for my nails. I’m into tabletop fantasy wargaming, so I always have a wide range of paints and good brushes!

  16. Joy

    Everclear (from your liquor store) is a natural grain alcohol vs. petroleum based rubbing alcohol. It works great at removing Acquarella and Honeybee Gardens water based polishes. You can denature it by adding essential oils. FYI: Piggy Paints does contain FD&C colorants. If you want to avoid those then I suggest Acquarella, Honeybee Gardens and Suncoat.

  17. Heidi

    I love water based nail polish! No more smelly fumes! Two of my favorite brands are Acquarella and Keeki Pure and Simple.

  18. pru

    Hey, thanks, Joy, for the comment about Everclear as a remover. Do you know, is Vodka strong enough to work? The Acquarella remover drives me crazy it takes so long. Anyway, the things I love about Acquarella (the only one I’ve used) is the glossy look of it on my nails and the incredible variety of colors available. The thing I don’t like — in the shower, the whole nailpolish portion can lift up off your nail in one piece, since it’s waterbased, and I’ve messed up many a pedicure/manicure unintentionally that way, having to repaint often. Going to try Suncoat and Honeybee next. And even with that annoyance due to water-based formulas, it’s still a zillion times better than using the toxic stuff…

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