I have always taken very good care of my hands since I was a child. This care might have been a reaction to my older sister’s habit of biting her nails, and my father encouraging me to care for my nails. I take pride in having well-manicured hands, courtesy of home treatments, as the one or two occasions I have had a professional manicure, I was surprised by how roughly they treated my nails, e.g., pushing back cuticles (something you should never do), and using surfactant-heavy nail soaks.
I used to polish my nails regularly, but I rarely do so any more. I’m concerned by the high levels of nasty chemicals that most nail polishes contain, as well as animal-derived ingredients. Nail polish removers are equally nasty. Even though I am careful to not wear polish for more than five days, in order to minimize nail damage, my nails and cuticles suffer after they have been subjected to polish; and this from a person who massages olive oil into her cuticles every day and uses high-quality hand creams at least twice a day.
Vegan nail polishes are on the rise, at least, and most of them minimize the bad chemicals, but I still find them too drying, and will stick to my natural nails. I’m genetically blessed when it comes to nails, as I inherited my mother’s (and her father’s) strong nails that grow like weeds, so they look just fine unpolished.
Many commercial nail polishes use animal products, such as carmine, a red pigment produced from crushed female beetles, and guanine, or pearl essence, a by-product obtained from fish scales. This slideshow provides a sample of some vegan alternatives