A Bottle of Hazards

For paper 2, I am interested in researching a case about a company who has faced problems or has been scrutinized for certain business practices but has overcome these challenges in an inspiring way. Jordi’s suggestions of nail polish additives sparked my interest as I am a frequent nail polish user, and I wanted to know more about what these additives were and how they could effect my health. As it turns out, for myna years nail polish had been virtually unregulated by the FDA, so whether you were getting your nails done in a salon or even at home, you were exposing yourself to a host of toxic and untested chemicals. Some of these chemicals include phthalates, formaldehyde, and toluene, and have been linked to such health concerns as birth defects and cancer. No health effects were this extreme after a one time use, but repeated exposure to such harsh chemicals over time damaged some users’ bodies.


Girls love nail polish! But is it worth it?


One of the most toxic brands of nail polish is OPI, which is also the leading manufacturer of nail polish in the world. OPI claimed to the be “the leader in professional nail care,” but they were actually behind other major manufacturers in regards of eliminating hazardous chemicals from their products. In 2006, OPI received much criticism from the public along with pressure from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to remove these hazardous chemicals from their polish. Rather than ignoring the public’s concerns, OPI responded by removing the hazardous chemicals and now proudly advertises that their products are free of toxins.  There were no laws that mandated that they make this change; OPI wanted to show that they are a business that listens to the needs and wants of their consumers and are looking out for society as a whole in the long run.


7 responses to “A Bottle of Hazards

  1. I thought your blog was really interesting as I never had thought about the health effects of nail polish before. I find it very unsettling that there are no regulations in place, as nail polish is such a common good and used by so many. Additionally, when reading this I could not hep but think about all the workers in nail studios who are exposed to these toxins and conditions for many hours everyday. I find that extremely worrisome that there are no laws protecting them!

  2. What on earth does “progressive nail care” mean anyway? I am not one to tell anyone to paint or not their nails, but it does seem like an area where a shift away from an interest in wholly unreal glosses and colors could help pave the away from the worst of the additives. Can fashion-conscious consumers lead the industry away from these additives?

    In general, I worry about long-term exposure to low levels of chemicals. There has been some research about this, but in a nutshell, when they test for harmful effects, it is often high exposure over short period of time. But the reality is you might get microdoses of toulene over 30-50 years or more.

    FOr example, the WI dept of health discusses what to do if you are exposed to a lot in the air, like from a spill. They say it is not known to cause cancer, but can cause organ damage.

  3. Lindsey, I think this is a great focus for Paper 2. It made me think about the cosmetics industry as a whole and the thousands of different chemically produced products that people apply to their skin and other parts of the body. How could they all behealthy in the long term?

  4. I think this post poses a great ethical question that could be applied to a lot of different companies/cases. Even if a company follows all the laws, is it being ethical? Sometimes, there aren’t enough laws in place to guarantee that a company is doing what is best and safe for its consumers. It could be interesting to investigate situations where companies have gone further than the laws required in response to the demands of their customers.

  5. I think this would be a really interesting topic for paper 2! It got me thinking about whether people will begin to care about the toxicity problems with these products, or if they will be too quick to brush off what they hear since the products seem relatively non-invasive. I wonder if the long-term/short term focus ideas might come into play here.
    I’m not sure when your articles are from, but I do remember from this summer that there was some ongoing confusion about this issue because of the regulations on labeling or lack thereof that you might want to look into for more ideas on the topic

  6. Lindsey, this is a very interesting concept for paper two. It makes me wonder how many other nail polish brands continue to use these chemicals. It also make me think of all the beauty salons where people paint customers nails for them (or so I can imagine). They have most likely been exposed to the chemicals the most. Another question that I had was how has the elimination of testing makeup on animals impacted the types of chemicals in makeup. I love animals, but if testing a product on a few animals can prevent thousands of people from developing cancer and or birth defects is it worth it. This question might be slightly off topic but it was something I began to ask myself.

  7. It’s an interesting point to bring up, because it’s pretty amazing that there hasn’t been more regulation of the chemicals in these polishes. I think it would be cool to look into the reasons for this lack of interest in the subject.

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