Are Nail Polish Fumes Harmful To Babies? (Find Out Here)

Baby smiling

There’s something about a visit to the nail salon that cures the stress of a hectic week caused by screaming babies and sleepless nights. But could it be that underneath all that glitz and glimmer, your nail polish is secretly hurting your loved one? I will help you to find out whether the fumes from nail polish are harmful to babies.

Moderate to large amounts of exposure to chemicals found in nail polishes are harmful to babies. Formaldehyde, Camphor, and Toluene are some of the chemicals that present possible health risks. They can cause small problems such as eye irritation to large problems such as respiratory problems and cancer risks.

I will explain to you whether nail polish fumes are bad for babies to smell as well as the types of health risks they are potentially exposed to. I will also guide you on the effects of nail polish on brain cell damage. Afterward, I will describe your alternative to regular nail polish that can shield you and your baby from being exposed to harmful fumes.

Is Nail Polish Bad For Babies To Smell?

Depending on the nail polish you use, it can be quite dangerous for babies to inhale. There are quite a few chemicals that can cause harm to not just babies but to humans overall. It is just that babies are more affected since their bodies are still developing.

We will discuss a few of the chemicals found in nail polish that could be affecting your baby. I will also explain the type of harm that it causes.


Formaldehyde is used in nail polish in order to allow the mixture to harden. It also prevents bacterial growth. Actually, This chemical is naturally produced by our own bodies! However, the amount in our bodies isn’t enough to pose a threat to us.

Exposure to the chemicals from outside the body, on the other hand, poses a danger. High doses of formaldehyde put you and your baby at risk of cancers that can affect your blood. If babies inhale nail polish too often the chemical can also trigger asthma symptoms and increases the risk of their noses and throats being attacked by cancer.


If you have always admired nail polish for its gloss and sheen you can thank the Camphor chemicals found in the mixture. Inhalation of this chemical in large quantities can irritate your babies’ olfactory nerves, causing frequent headaches. And if you have a baby you know that the only thing worse than a baby crying is a baby crying from the pain they can’t understand.

It is less harmful than some of the other chemicals on this list. However, if you are a frequent nail polish user then your baby is coming into contact with the chemicals enough times for there to be a possible reaction.


The Toluene chemical is what gives nail polish that silky smooth finish. It lends itself to the strong fumes you smell when you walk into a nail salon. Consistent exposure to this chemical can put you and your baby at risk of leukemia, brain damage, and severe respiratory problems.

If you haven’t had your baby yet and are pregnant, this component of the nail polish can also put your unborn baby at risk.


While parabens are being banned in many beauty products, they are still largely used in nail polish. It is what prevents the growth of bacteria in the nail product. However, there have been convincing connections between paraben use and breast cancer. It is enough for not only your baby but for you to steer clear of all ingredients containing parabens.

While we’ve been talking about babies smelling nail polish from your nails, it is also important to mention that it is not recommended to put them on your babies or even toddlers. Babies and toddlers’ number one priority is to put their hands in their mouths. Ingestion of these chemicals mentioned before can poison your child and may lead to death.

I think it best to avoid exposure to babies as their small bodies are unable to withstand fumes and irritants like the ones we have just discussed. If you are wearing nail polish and what to remove it for your babies’ safety, hold off on it until you have read about the effects of acetone on babies.

Is Acetone Harmful To Babies?

Seldom encounters with acetone will not affect your baby. However, if they should be exposed to large quantities it can be an irritant to their eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.

If you have removed nail polish before you know the strong scent that acetone gives off. Nail polish removers actually contain a small amount of acetone. Therefore, If the small amount is enough to make my eyes water and my throat burn, I don’t want to think of how much it can affect babies.

Does Smelling Nail Polish Kill Brain Cells?

While smelling nail polish once or twice a week won’t cause harmful effects, repeated inhalation can pass through your bloodstream and harm your brain cells. Continued loss of brain cells can lead to loss of memory and motor skills.

While the average person doesn’t come in contact with enough nail polish to have these severe reactions, repeated and frequent inhalation still presents these risks.

Five Free Nail Polish

Doing what is right for you and your baby does not have to mean giving up nail polish overall. You just need to opt for nail polish that doesn’t have these harmful toxins.

The terms five free, seven free and eight free nail polish refer to polish that doesn’t include harmful chemicals. They are free from the ones we have discussed and more. They have been substituted with organic and sometimes vegan alternatives that make it safe for you and your baby to inhale.

Brands that promote chemical-less nail polish include Trust Fund Beauty, Scotch Naturals, and Treat Collection.

It is always my policy to err on the side of caution. I only paint my nails once or twice a week, however knowledge of the potential risks is enough for me to try and do something different. Especially if the alternative doesn’t include changing my lifestyle overall, but just using healthier things for me and my loved ones.


While the average person will not be affected by the toxins present in nail polish, these chemicals in high doses are harmful to you and even more so to your baby. At the very least it will cause irritation to skin, noses, and lungs and at the very worst you have increased your exposure to carcinogens that can promote fatal illnesses. Either way, I would advise staying completely safe while doing what’s best for you.


My name is Sophia, and I'm a makeup artist that loves to try different makeup, nail polish, and other beauty products.

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