Posted by Claudia Grazioso on September 9, 2011
Lately, a lot of my daughters’ friends have been showing up to play dates with professionally-painted nails. I don’t personally remember getting a mani-pedi myself at the age of four (more like 24), but apparently we can file this, too, under “times have changed.” A friend of mine who enjoys frequent trips to the salon with her daughters urged me to go, claiming it was a bonding experience. It was like having a “mini-me.” And who can’t relate to that? Don’t we all kind of want our kids to enjoy what we do?
Fortunately, none of my kids shows much interest in getting a manicure or a pedicure. This is a good thing for two reasons: One, I would have a hard time shelling out money for a spa treatment that, given their penchants for running barefoot through puddles, making mud pies, climbing trees and bug hunting, would last about ten seconds after they left the salon. The other reason is that I just don’t know that they need to be exposed to all of the chemicals in adult (and probably some kid) makeup products just yet.
If you are tempted to have a salon-bonding day with your daughter, go ahead and enjoy. But know that there are some bad chemicals in some nail polishes. Here are some super baddies to try to avoid.
Toluene is a chemical that is also used in paint thinners, which might explain that, ahem, “delightful” nail polish smell. It’s a known neurotoxin and can interfere with neuron activity in the brain. Not a good thing if you’re gunning for that scholarship ten years from now.
Then there’s the omnipresent formaldehyde. This carcinogen is used more in nail hardeners than in nail polish, but double-check and be sure to take a pass if your selected color has formaldehyde in it. Aside from being carcinogenic, it is an irritant and can cause headaches.
Finally, there’s DiButyl Phthalate (there’s always a phthalate lurking somewhere, isn’t there?). This chemical is really one to watch out for. First, it is a teratogen, which means that it can cause problems in pregnant women from birth defects to miscarriage. So if you’re pregnant, avoid it. And make sure your child avoids it, too, because this plasticizer has also been shown to accelerate the onset of puberty in girls, as well as possibly cause genital malformations in baby boys.
Yes, plenty of women have gotten plenty of manicures and not suffered terrible side effects. But remember that children’s bodies and brains are still growing. And they are a lot more likely to suck on their fingers and eat with their hands… Even very nicely-manicured ones.