The Healthiest Mani, Hands Down

Alright everyone, I have a confession to make.

Those that know me probably know about my “problem”, but it is embarrassing to admit nonetheless.

I….

Am a nail picker.

There, I said it.

I’m in my thirties and still have an almost obsessive compulsion with my fingernails. When I’m bored, deep in thought, talking to people or merely sitting in one place, I always catch myself subconsciously picking away. It’s a horrible habit that I’ve been dead set on kicking this year.

I have had to get my nails done at least every two weeks for as long as I can remember to keep them in decent shape, and I just can’t do it anymore. I get so antsy sitting at the salon, I hate breathing in those fumes for an hour and a half, it gets pricey when you go as often as I’ve had to, I’m too ticklish for pedicures, and lately I’ve been wondering—with all this talk about clean beauty—just how toxic is nail polish? And what impact do manicures have on the environment?

I’ve always loved Lauren B. Beauty, which I was introduced to by a friend while living in LA. Their orchid and peony hand cream is one of my all-time favorite scents, and everything is vegan and free of the harsh chemicals found in most nail care products.

I was able to sit down with Lauren B. herself to get the inside scoop on safer nail care, red flags to look out for when buying polish and going to a salon, some tricks of the trade for nail-biters, and her #1 tip for busy women who might not have a whole lot of time on their hands. She also filled me in on the latest eco-trends we can try to help the environment.

…. And the best part is, throughout this process I was able to rescue my nails from a lifetime of abuse. Don’t believe me? Check out my before and after photos below! For the first time in a long time, I was able to go two weeks without a spot of nail polish and give myself a manicure. Prog-ress!

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Here’s what Lauren B. had to say.

Z: What chemicals should we look out for when purchasing a nail polish?

LB: There are 7 major chemicals to avoid:

  1. Toluene is a clear, colorless liquid with a distinctive smell that’s been known to cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm. It can also irritate the throat, eyes and lungs.

  2. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. It’s a colorless, flammable gas that has a distinct, pungent smell. It can cause eye irritation, neurological damage, increased risk of asthma, eczema and cancer.

  3. Formaldehyde Resin is similar. It can be a skin allergen and can remain active irritating the skin for up to three days after exposure. It can also cause dermatitis.

  4. DBP is an oily liquid that can be colorless or yellow and causes birth defects, damage to reproductive organs and sometimes sterilization.

  5. Camphor is a colorless or white crystal with aromatic odor. It can cause irritated eyes and skin, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, and epileptiform convulsions if you are exposed to a high concentration of it.

  6. Xylene has that strong odor you may recognize from many nail polishes. Its vapors can cause eye irritation, skin irritation, headache, dizziness and nausea. Prolonged exposure can lead to liver and kidney damage, respiratory issues and even death.

  7. TPHP (also known as TPP) is commonly used as a fire retardant in furniture and a hardener in plastic goods. This chemical causes changes in hormone regulation, metabolism, and reproductive systems.

These toxins can get right into the bloodstream via the cuticles, so it’s best to avoid any products with harsh ingredients or toxic chemicals. Our polishes are 7-free, containing none of these harmful chemicals, so you can have safe, stylish nails.

I also do not recommend gel or acrylic polishes because their toxicity exposure over time can be harmful.

Z: Is there anything we should specifically look out for or avoid in a nail salon?

LB: YES, a chemical smell in the air and dirty floors or areas are normally signs that tools and other things will not be clean. Go with your gut. If you get a good feeling, then enjoy, but if something seems off, chances are there is.



Z: With nail upkeep so important, what advice do you have for women who still struggle with biting or picking at their nails? (Asking for a friend.)

LB: Biting nails is bad for you because aside from the obvious, you are putting your hands in your mouth and spreading germs and bacteria. Your manicure will not last long at all since you’re damaging and causing impact to your polish and the free edge of the nail. Furthermore, you could get infected cuticles or redness around your hands and nails due to inflammation, infection, etc. When you bite, peel or pick your nails, you can cause damage to the nail bed, which may take a while to heal.

Since nail biting is often a nervous or stress-induced habit, aside from telling yourself to just stop, try to be present and aware of why you are biting your nails in the first place, and find a coping mechanism that will help consciously change the behavior and redirect the emotion. I hate to say replace the habit with another habit, but it could be helpful to find something else to fidget with and distract (i.e. some people have a ring, bracelet or hair tie that they play with instead of biting.) Also, if you are like me, keeping dark-colored nail polish on your nails at all times helps to consciously think about biting and keeping a manicure in good condition. Knowing that biting may ruin your mani and also chip polish off causing you to potentially swallow it is enough to think again before biting.

When filing, it is so important to file in the same direction. Do not saw nail back and forth. Glass nail files are great for gentle and precise filing.

Z: What can you do to naturally strengthen nails and optimize nail health?

LB: Use good quality products (7 free), pay attention to your nails and hands—be gentle and kind to them, moisturize often, eat a balanced, healthy diet rich in nutrients, and don’t pick nail polish off, get gels or acrylics.

Z: What is one nail care tip you recommend for busy women who don’t have time to do their nails or visit the nail salon often?

LB: Moisturize often!!!



My picks

I personally used the reparative cuticle oil treatment and (my fave) hand crème for two weeks to get my nails back in proper shape. I basically carried them around with me all day for the first week, but just incorporating both into my morning and evening routines helped me be more aware of any nail picking throughout the day.

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I’m definitely a neutral gal, so I love this color (Love), and it’s so glossy and smooth I feel like I have gels on (without the dangerous aftermath). They actually look the same as when I get them done in a salon (kind of geeking out).

(The befores are  embarrassing , I know)

(The befores are embarrassing, I know)

I still have a ways to go in training myself to leave my nails alone, but I’m happy I have this lovely, healthier option to help me along the way, and while I might not do my own nails forever, knowing what I know now, I’ll definitely be bringing my own polish when I do go to a salon.

Get 15% off your purchase of Lauren B. Beauty products by using code Zen15 at checkout! Shop here

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