Whether you are trying to repair a cracked nail or you have decided you are going to DIY your nails for a salon look, you are going to need nail glue.
As a mom who is a little crunchy, I have been on the hunt for non-toxic nail glue. It’s been really hard to find one that checks all of the boxes, so I figured you may be looking for the same thing!
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Is Nail Glue Toxic?
The debate whether nail glue is toxic has been a long-standing conversation for salons and nail aficionados. On one end, nail glue is simply applied, covered, and dried, hiding under fresh nails to never be touched and arguably harmless. On the other end, fumes from freshly applied nail glue could be inhaled or come into contact with the eyes or skin and pose a health risk. Not to mention, large bottles of nail glue that are left open could pose a risk to your lungs if they are in a poorly ventilated area.
It’s hard to give a concrete answer as to whether nail glue is or isn’t toxic, but here’s our take: keep nail glue off of your skin, away from your eyes, and in a well-ventilated area.
Some nail glues contain toxic ingredients that can cause burning and damage to your skin and eyes. It’s best to find a non-toxic nail glue if you find yourself applying new nails often and to limit your exposure to nail glue all together.
Ingredients in Nail Glue
The most common ingredients in nail glue are ethyl cyanoacrylate, BHA, citric acid, and hydroxypropyl methacrylate. These ingredients can cause skin and eye irritation, and some are toxins that can seriously affect your health. Do your best to stay away from these ingredients and opt for a non-toxic nail glue.
Ethyl cyanoacrylate is a colorless liquid that is the main adhesive in most glues. It can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs, and should only be used in a well-ventilated area. Wearing a mask and eye protection is recommended if you know you’ll be in contact with this chemical.
You’ve probably heard of BHA, as it’s used in a lot of cosmetics to prolong shelf-life. As widespread as BHA is, it can cause allergies, immunotoxicity, and organ system toxicity. According to the Environmental Working Group, which publishes a cosmetic safety database, BHA can affect the nervous system and brain, and could lead to positive mutation results for cancer.
Citric acid comes from citrus fruits like lemons or oranges and is typically harmless. It’s used to maintain a certain acidic balance in products and even adds a fresh scent. Although relatively safe, in larger doses citric acid may irritate your skin.
Hydroxypropyl Methacrylate is another common cosmetic ingredient that helps lengthen and grow nails. It is safe to use, but make sure you limit it coming in contact with your skin as it can cause irritation and burning.
Alternatives to Nail Glue
There are some great alternatives to nail glue out there that work effectively and aren’t toxic. We totally get that nail glue is easy to use and works well though, so if you really want to use glue, make sure to wear a mask that will protect you from the fumes since we can’t find a truly non-toxic nail glue option. This mask from 3M is a great option (and it will be great for your home projects too). You can buy it from The Home Depot and from Amazon.
Using double-sided or fashion tape is a great alternative to nail glue, and there are products like this that are specifically for nails. Simply clean your natural nails before applying, cut the tape to fit your nail, and press your new nail down. Here is our top pick for nail tape. It sticks very well for short-term use, but don’t expect it to last for days.
Press-on nails, like this set from KISS, have come a long way in the last decade. They’re perfect for a quick manicure, and they’ll last quite a bit longer than the ones we all used in the 90s. You can purchase these on Amazon and at Ulta too.
Another alternative is using clear nail polish to apply your nails. (We really like this one from Karma Organic.) Just clean your natural nails and paint the back of the fake nail with clear polish. Once the polish has dried for about 30 seconds and is tacky, apply the fake nail and hold it for 1 minute. The clear polish will take 1-2 hours to fully cure and after that will hold your nails firmly for a short period of time.
If you’re wanting non-toxic nail glue to repair a broken nail that’s too short to trim (we’ve all been there!), simply painting your nails may work until it grows out enough. We have a post about non-toxic nail polish for kids, and we’d recommend the same products for adults.
So we didn’t find a non-toxic nail glue option but when it comes to non-toxic beauty we have a TON of articles and have handpicked the best! Check out these below.