Is OPI Nail Polish Toxic Or Safe? Explained

Is OPI nail polish safe?

OPI nail polish is not very safe. While it does not have formaldehyde, toluene, and DPB (known as the ‘toxic trio’), it contains some not-so-good ingredients like diacetone alcohol and camphor that may lead to various respiratory issues and may cause dizziness and nausea.

OPI Nail Polish Ingredients

The EWG’s Skindeep Database has given ratings ranging from 3-9 to OPI nail polishes, which implies that they are formulated with potentially harmful chemicals. Some of them are discussed below: 

Diacetone Alcohol

The leading chemical agencies like US OSHA and ECHA have suspected that diacetone alcohol may lead to infertility, miscarriages, and several other respiratory issues that can damage kidneys and liver.


Benzophenone -1 is a UV blocker used in sunscreens and cosmetics to prevent the discoloration of products. Some studies reveal it is harmless in small quantities, however, the research has shown that it may be a potential trigger for ovarian cancer and breast cancer. 

It is said to be an endocrine disruptor and is a potentially harmful ingredient for the lungs, liver, and gut.

Di-HEMA Trimethylhexyl Dicarbamate

Di-HEMA, used as a nail strengthening agent, is considered to be a highly toxic allergen. This ingredient may cause skin or visceral tumors when it comes in direct contact with skin.

Formaldehyde Resin

Also known as tosylamide, formaldehyde resin is used to form a durable and shiny coating on the nails. Even though it is safer than formaldehyde, there is strong evidence of tosylamide/formaldehyde resin being a toxic ingredient for humans. There have been cases of nail polish dermatitis reported in the past attributed to formaldehyde resin.

Synthetic Camphor

Camphor is used as a fragrant, denaturant, and plasticizer in nail enamels. It can be poisonous in humans when swallowed or inhaled. It can disrupt the functioning of the nervous system and kidneys. 

The other side effects include colic, convulsions, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, delirium, and seizures.

Is OPI Nail Polish 3 Free?

Yes, OPI nail polish is 3 free, which means that the formula is free of DBP, toluene, and formaldehyde. These three chemicals are considered to be the most toxic and were included in the previous formulation. 

The DBP or Dibutyl Phthalate is a plasticizer that keeps the nail enamels chip-free. This chemical possesses chronic health effects like liver damage, nausea, and dizziness.

Formaldehyde is a chemical used as a preservative in nail polish and increases its shelf life. and keeps the coat hard when applied. It is a well-known human carcinogen that triggers blood cancer, brain cancer, and many other cancers.

Toluene is a commonly used solvent that creates a smooth finish as it is derived from petroleum. Toluene can cause cracked skin, irritated eyes, nose, and throat. Headaches, dizziness, and miscarriages are also a few of the severe side effects of toluene.

Is OPI Nail Polish 5 Free?

No, OPI nail polish is not 5 free. 5-free nail polish means the absence of the following chemicals:

  • DBP
  • Toluene
  • Formaldehyde
  • Formaldehyde Resin
  • Camphor

Even if it doesn’t have the toxic trio, it does contain ingredients like camphor, diacetone alcohol, formaldehyde resin, and propyl acetate that can cause health issues.

Even though OPI has ensured more natural and safe nail polishes for everyone, removing several chemicals from the list of ingredients alone does not make it completely safe to use.

Is OPI Nail Polish 7 Free?

No. A 7-free polish also has to be free of Ethyl Tosylamide and Xylene (in addition to DBP, Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, and Camphor)

Ethyl Tosylamide increases the adhesive power of the polish so that it can stick to nails for a longer period. It is a sulfur-based antibiotic and is restricted in European countries since it can cause mild to severe allergic reactions.

Xylene, when inhaled, can be toxic to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. 

Even though OPI nail polish is free from xylene, it does have ethyl tosylamide. So, it is not 7-free

Is OPI Nail Polish 10 Free?

No. OPI nail polish is not 10 free. 10-free means that nail polishes do not contain xylene, ethyl tosylamide, camphor, DBT, formaldehyde resin, TPHP ( Triphenyl Phosphate), toluene, formaldehyde, parabens, and tert-butyl hydroperoxide. 10-Free is the least toxic and a better choice for your skin.

Although US OPI Nature Strong range does call itself 9 free.

Does OPI Nail Polish Have Metal In It?

OPI may contain trace amounts of lead and other heavy metals in it. Some of these heavy metals are mixed into the nail polish to create a shiny metallic finish.

Other metals and lead are not combined with the nail paint but come from the colorants used to create the color.

Lead and other heavy metals may lead to fatigue, headaches, memory loss, and miscarriages or premature births.

Is OPI Nail Polish Safe During Pregnancy?

We would say no. Even though the OPI nail polishes are 3-free, they still have ingredients that pose a threat to the fetus and may cause miscarriages. There is no solid research that states that applying nail polishes can be harmful but it’s always a good choice either to avoid them or go for less toxic brands. 

If you are a fan of OPI, then you may check out its Nature Strong range that is free from all the toxic ingredients mentioned above. This range is only exclusive to the US. 

Is OPI Nail Polish Safe For Babies And Toddlers?

The use of OPI nail polish should not be used while dealing with babies and toddlers. The body of a baby does not need a huge amount of chemicals to cause damage. Inhaling even a small amount of fumes of nail paint can cause brain damage and respiratory issues. 

None of the above-mentioned ingredients should be swallowed by the baby.  If you are having a kid that likes to put his fingers in the mouth, you need to keep nail polishes out of their reach.

Is OPI Nail Polish Safe For Dogs?

Not only OPI, but every nail polish meant for humans is strictly prohibited for dogs. Human nail polishes can be toxic for animals if ingested or inhaled. Also, nail polish is adhesive in nature. It can get stuck to the hair and can be difficult to get rid of which may cause damage to the fur.

The fumes can be potentially harmful and cause damage to mucous membranes, and the gastrointestinal tract.

Is OPI Nail Polish Cruelty-Free?

No, the parent company of OPI is Coty and it performs animal testing of its products. OPI as a brand doesn’t perform animal testing on its own but they do pay third parties to test its products on animals.

The brand also claims that they do animal testing where it is required by the law, like in China where it’s a legal requirement to test finished products on animals.

Is OPI Nail Polish Vegan?

The only vegan nail polishes OPI has are in its Nature Strong range which is only distributed in the US. The ingredients of this range are not animal-derived and are not tested on animals. This collection is also certified by The Vegan Society. Even the packaging of this range is sustainable and is made up of recycled materials.

Apart from this range, OPI nail polish is not vegan.

Is OPI Nail Polish Halal?

No. OPI nail polishes are not halal-friendly.  Halal-friendly nail polish should be free of alcohol, animal-derived ingredients, cruelty-free, and should allow water to penetrate the nail. It should be breathable and should not contain impermissible ingredients.

Even the vegan Nature Strong range from OPI cannot be considered halal-friendly.

Is OPI Nail Polish Gluten-Free?

The normal OPI nail polish is gluten-free as it doesn’t contain wheat or oats-derived ingredients. The vegan range, however, is not gluten-free, as it has wheat-based proteins.

There is no official or separate list of OPI gluten-free products, hence we recommend contacting their customer service for accurate information of a particular product.

Final Verdict

In conclusion, we would like to say that OPI is a 3-free brand which makes it a better choice compared to other affordable alternatives. But, being 3-free alone doesn’t make OPI a less toxic brand, as it still has some toxic chemicals. So if you are more ingredient-conscious or use nail polishes regularly then you can go for their vegan range or a brand that is 5-free or 7-free.


Anand Srinivasan
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