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Nurture your nails with planet-friendly nail care and reap the benefits writes WelleCo contributor Kat Odell.

Whether your summer color is Essie’s orange-red Clambake or OPI’s magenta Suitable For, we all strive for well-groomed, heathy-looking nails. But in the name of self-expression via polish, we often overlook the harmful ingredients in the lacquers that hue our fingers, in addition to the impact these products have on our environment. So, what’s the non-toxic secret to strong, smooth, shiny nails? And is it imperative to ditch the polish? Below, New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Julie Russak of Russak Dermatology Clinic, plus health and wellness expert Irisha Steele––spa director at Colorado’s St. Regis Aspen Resort­­––share pro tips on clean, body and planet-friendly nail care.

Take Oral Supplements

You’ve heard it before––food is medicine. What we eat directly impacts our health, nails included. When our bodies are deficient in essential nutrients, explains Dr. Russak, we internally redirect resources toward “biologically essential processes for survival,” and thusly compromised nail health is one of the first signs of poor nutrition.  “[I]f your nails constantly break, it is likely your diet is low in iron, protein, calcium, vitamins A, D, and B6,” explains Dr. Russak.

Taking an oral supplement rich in vitamins and nutrients––like SUPER ELIXIR Greens and Aquatic Collagen Skin + Hair + Nails Super Booster–– supports nail health, thanks to ingredients like biotin (boosts proteins that strengthen hair and nail collagen), calcium (strengthens nails), and green tea extract (a powerful antioxidant that helps protect nails from environmental damage). Additional minerals and botanicals such as turmeric, goji berry, and magnesium citrate yield powerful tonics that assist with immune system support, promoting the body’s ability to build strong, healthy nails.


Pick Non-Toxic Nail Polish

More and more non-toxic nail salons are popping up around the world, and for good reason. “Most standard nail polishes have dangerous ingredients, such has touline, formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, and nitrocellulose––an ingredient found in auto paint,” reveals Steele. Painting our nails with non-toxic nail polishes that are vegan and plant-friendly are not only better for our overall health, but they are kinder to the earth, too. “Most people don’t think about how nail polish is deposed,” adds Steele, revealing that traditional lacquers are non-compostable, and they end up in landfills.

Consider a Gel Manicure Alternative

While a shiny, chip-free two-week manicure might sound ideal, those picture-perfect nails come with some baggage. “Gel manicures make your nails extremely weak and brittle,” says Steele, referencing the affects acetone (used to remove old gel polish) has on our nails. And the UV lamps implemented to cure polish increases your risk of skin cancer on the hands. Instead, Steele recommends Sparitual, a long-lasting vegan nail polish line devoid of those harmful chemicals, the need for acetone, and the use of UV lamps.

Ditch the Polish Altogether

If going au natural is in question, then giving your nails a break from polish has absolutely zero downsides. Per Dr. Russak, “By giving your nails a break from polish use, you can … avoid keratin granulation, drying, discoloration and yellowing to the nail,” all potential outcomes when nail polish is left on for long periods, or when nails are regularly exposed to acetone.