For those looking to swap their beauty products for greener options, dont forget nail polish. While varnishes may not rank very high on your list of priorities (skincare and makeup claiming major real estate), remember the strong scent that youre welcomed with every time you open a fresh bottle of nail paint? Most traditional polishes contains a bunch of harmful ingredients which include solvents, plasticizers and adhesive polymers, all of which find their way into the soil or waterbodies. There are some terrifying insights of being around these chemicals for too long including headaches, dizziness and an effect on reproductive hormones.According to a 2022 study by Transparency Market Research (TMR), the global nailcare marketwhich was valued at 10.9 billion USD in 2021is all set to reach 23.1 billion USD by the end of 2031. This rise in sales is attributed to a number of factors including our increased exposure to social media where were constantly trying to keep up with changing trends.Presence of toxins found in polishes discovered in womens bodiesThe researchers at Duke University and Environmental Working Group have uncovered some scary evidence in the bodies of more than 24 women where they found traces of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. These came from popular nail paints and the study also found that our bodies can absorb chemicals straight through polishes.The 2015 study published in Environment International, found that all the women had a metabolite of triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) in their bodies just 10 to 14 hours after painting their nails. Their levels of diphenyl phosphate (DPHP) which forms when the body metabolizes TPHP, had increased by nearly sevenfold. While the chemical Triphenyl Phosphatethat makes polish stick to nails is one of the few that isnt actually deemed unsafe yet, there are new correlational studies out that it is capable of disrupting people and animals hormones. For now, scientists are watch this chemical cautiously and closely.How does nail polish affect the planet?It all depending on the brand and its sustainability practices and of course, these vary in terms of the impact they have on the environment. Most high-end polishes at least come in glass bottles that can be recycled and reused, explains Sana Dhanani, founder and managing director of The White Door India. While there is no single manufacturing formula for nail polish, most traditional recipes call for the common components like film-forming agents (nitrocellulose cotton), resins and plasticizers, solvents, and colouring agents. A combination of these chemicals gives nail paint its flexibility, resistance to soap and water, and other qualities.Regular nail paints can be better formulated to be kinder to the planet but with gel polish, it is essentially like having a plastic film on your nails that gives it the vibrancy and shine. While brands are working towards ways to make this formulation as sustainable as possible, it will take time for these products to hit the market, adds Dhanani. When removed, most nail polishes will sit in landfills and over time, the toxins like toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate, among others, will make their way into the soil and waterbodies. These chemicals are known as the big 3 and are extremely harmful to the planet and humans. Toluene can cause neurological and reproductive issues at low-level exposure and is a known skin irritant, formaldehyde is a potential carcinogen and can aggravate respiratory problems whereas dibutyl phthalate is the plasticizer that prevents nail polishes from becoming brittle and is linked to issues like hormone changes, diabetes, and thyroid irregularities.The alternative: Sustainable nail polishes?The demand for non-toxic products that perform as well as their traditional counterparts is the need of the hour. Weve also seen an increase in transparency in the market where consumers are being made aware of the risks involved so they can make educated decisions about beauty treatments before getting them done, adds Dhanani. When looking for eco-friendly options, she suggests steering clear of the big three as well as looking for polishes that are cruelty-free and vegan.While there are some brandsboth homegrown and internationalventuring into the clean beauty space, these still contain nitrocellulose to form a layer on the surface of the nail. But, these are free from many toxic chemicals. Additionally, there are some innovative formulas that has a minimum amount or absolutely no harmful chemicals. Brands today are working to replace most of the base chemicals in their polish with water or different oils to remove the petrochemical solvents found in traditional formula. Others have started using polish bottles that have caps made of sustainably harvested wood as a substitute for plastic lids.If you want to try out some of these Indian brands, find our discoveries below:Disguise Cosmetics: Free from 15 toxins found in nail polishes, youll find 22 shades on the brands website. Users claim that the polish is pigmented and the formulation, even though thick, dries quickly on the nails. My advice to apply it with the fans turned off.Kanai: This beauty brand from India was the first ever to be included in the 2021 Oscars Everyone Wins nominee gift bags that are given to all the actors who are nominated in the Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Director categories. It has 12 gorgeous shades in its nail polish range and users say one coat is fairly opaque and it dries quickly. Haven't had chipping.How to use up old bottles of traditional nail paintBefore you throw away all your old bottles of nail paint, take a minute to read this. The most sustainable thing you can do is use your beauty products to the last drop, but you dont have to use them on yourself. Here are some hacks to use up old nail paint.1. Colour code your keysIf you have a bunch of keys that you carry with you all the time, its a good idea to label them using nail paint. Pick a shade and paint the top of your keys to indicate that theyre your house door ones. Do this for all in the bunch!2. Give your jewellery a makeoverHigh street jewellery tends to lose its shine and colour after some wear and to remedy this, you can grab your favourite nail colour to spruce it up!3. Stop shoe laces from frayingA protective coat of polish can prevent ribbons or your shoe laces from fraying.4. Keep your buttons intactIf you see a shirt button loosening up, swipe on a coat of clear polish to keep it in place.