Are Jamberry Nails Toxic?

evidence based practice image

In healthcare there is what we call “evidence based practice”. Which is basically where we look at peer reviewed, scientific research to determine what has been proven to be safest or provides the best patient outcomes.

As a RN and a Nurse Practitioner Student, I spend a large amount of my time researching evidence.  So when I was learning about Jamberry Nails, and one of the first things that was pitched to me was that they are “non-toxic, vegan, and gluten free“.  I thought “that is a great pitch but where is the evidence for that?”.  So naturally, I did some research.

I will provide you the evidence that I found and let you decide for yourself if this is something that you consider non-toxic.

What Are Jamberry Nail Wraps Made Of And Are They Safe?

Jamberry Nail Wraps are made from silicone wrapped paper with a polyvinylchloride (PVC)-acrylic film adhesive.  I touched on these materials in the article “What are Jamberry Nail Wraps?”.  This article is meant to elaborate only on the materials and toxicity.

PVC pipes

There has been a long standing debate on whether PVC should be considered toxic or not. Some people believe that because it is used for water systems, such as plumbing, as well as for medical supplies, such as IV tubing, that applying it to your nails is essentially harmless. Others feel that it should not be used at all.

I can tell you that wherever you fall on this spectrum, there is probably evidence to back you up if you simply ignore the other side.  This is a great article that speaks on both sides of the PVC debate if you really want to get into depth. If you want a summary, here it is:

                         Against PVC                                                  Pro PVC

 The production of PVC is bad for the environment and the workers. Production of PVC was linked to a rare form of liver Cancer in the 1970s. There has not been a single case of Cancer in PVC workers since the production was regulated by OSHA in the 1970’s and proper safety measures were implemented.
 PVC contains carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) such as: VMC, dioxin and phthalates.  VMC is not emitted after the production, dioxin is only toxic when it is burned, and phthalates have only been proven to be toxic to rats-they haven’t shown to be toxic to humans.
 PVC disposal in unsafe, it may release dioxin when it is incinerated.  It can only release dioxin if not incinerated properly. Many landfills are also now lined with PVC because it is durable and claims that it could leak toxins are not supported

 

When searching for peer reviewed research on nail wraps, I can tell you that I found nothing that matched that exact criteria. I did however find some articles that expanded more on PVC and it’s use in the medical field.

Research on Ingredients in Jamberry Nail Wraps

Wilson and French, 1987, pg. 556 state the following, “Plasticized polyvinylchloride film has been used in this burns unit for a long time for dressings before the ward round, before surgery, and when the burned patient is transferred from the casualty department to the burns unit. Plasticized polyvinylchloride film is easy to use, safe, and causes no pain. Most importantly, in the present financial climate, it is cheap.”

saran wrap photo

Several other articles mentioned PVC film, in the form of saran wrap, as being safe and effective to use on burn patients. I can also tell you that in every ICU I have worked in that we have used forms of plastic wrap to cover dressings and central lines when we help patients bathe.

As Far as the Acrylic Portion of the Materials in Jamberry Nail Wraps…

Unfortunately I could not find much on that except that it is considered generally safe for cosmetic consumers. Those that work with it in large quantities, or are constantly inhaling fumes, are at risk for lung irritation.  Contact dermatitis (irritation of the skin) was also possible with the powder form.  None of which are applicable to the nail wrap. Here is a MSDS sheet for acrylic polymers.  This is a statement from the MSDS, pg. 4:

Chronic Toxicity:

-” Long-term exposure: This product has been used during many years without any evidence of adverse effects. According to different studies, there is no reason to think that Polymethyl Methacrylate represents a carcinogenic or mutagenic risk for people. Long-term exposures do not produce either toxic effects on embryos or foetus or teratogenic effects on pregnant mothers.” 

MSDS image

Conclusion

There was a time in my life, shortly after I graduated nursing school, that I kept myself in a clean little bubble. I was so worried about getting sick working in hospitals that I bleached everything, washed my hands with antibacterial soap (big mistake), and didn’t touch or eat anything that might “harm” me. What happened? Well I got sick a lot more, probably because my immune system wasn’t building as many antibodies.  Want to learn more about this? Click here.

At this point in my life, I don’t mind germs so much but I am very healthy. I eat organic as much as possible,  exercise and do yoga, don’t use water bottles with PBA, don’t microwave plastic, try to eat raw foods,  have just one glass of red wine several days a week, etc etc.

As far as my nails are concerned, I am not overly worried that Jamberry Nails are doing anything except make me happy.  I use these on myself and my 8 year old step-daughter as well, she loves them. All of my co-workers also use them, and so do their kids.

However, if what you read scares you then you should not use them.

There are also some people that need to live in that bubble I was talking about. They might have weak immune systems for other reason and the only person that should  judge what is right for them is them.

Make informed choices and do what is best for you. Also don’t just take my word on all of this, do your own research as well! Knowledge is power 🙂

 

Additional sources:

Mother Earth News, 2010. Is PVC safe? The Vinyl debate. Retrieved from: http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-homes/the-vinyl-debate.aspx#axzz38FzuJDm3

Wilson, G., & French, G. (1987). Plasticised polyvinylchloride temporary dressing for burns, 556–557.

 

Have any questions or comments? More facts to add? I’d love to hear all about your knowledge and opinions, please post below or send an email to info@NotNailPolish.com, thanks!

6 thoughts on “Are Jamberry Nails Toxic?”

  1. I love my Jams, but I just discovered the good news that I’m pregnant! Would you suggest I cease using them while I’m pregnant?

    1. Hi Emily!

      First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy, that is so exciting!

      As far as wearing your Jams while pregnant, that is very much a personal choice. There are no studies that indicate if wearing nail wraps during pregnancy is harmful or safe, because currently there are no studies :/. All we can do is look at the ingredients individually, like in the article. When looking at the ingredients, you can consider how each one potentially interacts with pregnant women. For instance, pregnant women drink water, take showers, wash their hands, etc with water that runs through PVC, without harmful effects. Also, the amount of acrylic used in the bond is minimal compared to the use of acrylic powder when getting one’s nails done, and most research has proven acrylic to be generally safe (see MSDS in article above). Applying the wraps to the nail, and because there are no fumes, means there is minimal chance that any ingredient would absorb into the bloodstream and have an impact on the baby. I know many women that have worn Jamberry Nail Wraps during pregnancy and have not had any issues. However, some women won’t even wear polish during pregnancy, mostly related to the smells and nausea. So overall, they are probably safe but again, that is a personal choice. I cannot really say 100% one way or the other in the absence of peer reviewed research. I would ask yourself these questions and then make the choice for yourself:

      1. Have I ever had any negative effects from wearing Jamberry Nails?
      2. After reading the above article, do I feel comfortable with all of the ingredients in Jamberry Nails?
      3. In my personal beliefs, are the ingredients in Jamberry Nail Wraps likely to have any impact on my pregnancy? Compare to other things you are likely exposed to on a regular basis also: pollution, plastic, types of food, etc.
      4. Lastly, if you still cannot decide, ask: If I presented this article to my OBGYN, would she/he approve me wearing these? If you’re not sure, it never hurts to ask 🙂

      I hope that helped, Emily. I’m sorry that I cannot give you a definitive answer. It is just really something that each woman needs to choose for herself :). Good luck with your pregnancy, I wish you the best!

  2. What about the environment? I just learned of micro plastics used in my favorite brands of scrubs and toothpastes. Made me wonder about Jamberry and other nail wraps adding to the plastic pollution in waterways, oceans and landfills. I decided not to add to the plastic problem and won’t be using them.

    1. Hi Kay,

      That is a valid point about the landfills. Unfortunately there is no completely “green” method if one wants their nails done. Even if using a non-toxic polish, the bottle is not recyclable. Use is up to each person individually. I completely respect your decision to not use any product you do not feel comfortable with :).

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