October 9, 2010, 9:27:00 PM

Guiltfree Glam: B3F FTW!

"What is B3F?" is a question I find almost daily in my inbox, so for today I've got a little writeup on the matter. I always redirect everyone to this awesome post by All Lacquered Up, since I'm no chemist AT ALL, but the requests kept coming, so bear with me. I won't get into all the bad stuff certain ingredients can do, as I don't want to have people panicking!

B3F wha?

What are B3F or Big 3 Free nail polishes anyway? These are polishes that are free from Formaldehyde, DBP & Toluene. Formaldehyde in its pure form is a colorless gas. Formaldehyde is anti bacterial and acts as an anti dissolvant and improves adhesion. DBP or Dibutyl phthalate is used as a plasticizer which should keep surfaces smooth and unbreakable. Toluene is a substance that keeps your polish liquid.


Each of these ingredients have certain dangers attached to them. There is still debate over whether these are actually harmful: usually these ingredients only trip you up when you're exposed to huge amounts during a longer period of time or when they are being incinerated. However, long term consequences are still unknown and there are many people who suffer from allergic reactions from these substances. Formaldehyde is hardly used these days, except in hardeners/strengtheners. You might want to give those a body check. A product from Formaldehyde, called Formaldehyde Resin, is more often used nowadays, I'm not entirely sure about that one, but it's considered safe by the FDA. If you're allergic to Formaldehyde you might be allergic to the resin as well though.

Just a marketing tool?

I know a lot of people don't care at all, but better safe than sorry goes a long way. I know I don't want to to cause unnecessary harm to my health. Why risk it if there are plenty alternatives - especially when you're pregnant or breastfeeding! Maybe the fuzz is a little overblown and I do think a lot of brands are using this as a clever marketing tool, but it doesn't hurt to be careful.
A lot of older polishes are not B3F, but I can't wrap my head around the fact that companies still choose to produce nail polish the oblivious way. For example: Models Own polishes are still crammed with Toluene. Why?! I know producing non B3F polish is a lot cheaper than its healthy alternative, but the price of Models Own polishes ($8 each, where Nubar costs &7.49 & Zoya $7 each) hardly reflects that. It does take some companies a while to get their new formula to work, but practice makes perfect right?


You can check the labels to see whether your nail polish is B3F, but brands like Nubar, Zoya, SpaRitual, Orly, Chanel, RBL, Lippmann, Revlon, Del Sol (as pictured above), newer Misa, China Glaze and OPI are definitely B3F. However, some of these still contain Formaldehyde Resin.

I hope this was helpful and thanks so much for stopping by!
- With love, Michèle

Sources: Cosmeticsinfo.org, Wikipedia