Three major nail varnish manufacturers say they will begin removing chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects from their formulations, lobbyists at The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics claim.
OPI, Orly and Del Laboratories, which makes the Sally Hansen Brands have all acknowledged this week that they have begun removing a number of the suspect ingredients from their nail varnish products.
The move is the result of a long-standing campaign by the lobby group that has targeted specific brands of nail varnish that are said to contain ingredients including phthalates, formeldahyde and toluene - ingredients that have all been scientifically linked to health-related conditions in humans.
Sally Hansen, one of the highest profile names in the US nail varnish segment, said it is reformulating all its products to remove dibutyl phthalate (DBP), formaldehyde and toluene.
Company spokesperson Ann Nugent said that the reformulation "is a big concern for us" and that the company sees it as a "stepped-up effort." However, the company has not yet confirmed with all the reformulated products will be on store shelves.
OPI and Orly have said they would remove DBP from their products but would continue to use toluene. Likewise OPI still uses formaldehyde in some nail products.
Orly spokesperson Jennifer Marlowe said that the company began removing DBP from all products "at least a year ago" but that "some products still contain small amounts of toluene and formaldehyde resin, not formaldehyde."
The campaigners have pointed out that the three ingredients are on California's Prop. 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.
In particular, recent scientific studies have stressed the line between DBP and underdevelopment of newborn baby boys. Although the chemical is banned by the EU, in the US the FDA has not made any such move.
Toluene has also been linked to skin irritations, liver damage and anaemia, while formeldahyde is 'reasonably anticipated' to be a human carcinogen.
The group says that its action against specific manufacturers of nail varnish highlights the fact that FDA regulations do not require that cosmetics products have to be tested for safety, contrary to stricter regulations governing the European market.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics says that the latest concessions follow those made by larger companies earlier on its campaign. Names such as Avon, Estee Lauder, Revlon and L'Oreal have alredy confirmed that they will remove DBP from nail varnish formulations.