Nail Polish, Miscarriages, Cancer? Not So Pretty Episode 2

Not So Pretty 2 cover

Not So Pretty is a HBO documentary series about supposedly dangerous beauty products. It’s a very persuasive, slick-looking documentary. A lot of people chucked out their products after watching it, and as someone who breaks open bottles to use the last three drops at the bottom, this cut me deep. As a scientist who uses a lot of beauty products …

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Breaking Down 5 Minute Crafts “Viral” Beauty Hacks (Video)

5 Min Crafts Viral

I’ve looked at some more 5 Minute Craft beauty hacks – they’re a mixed bag. Some of them are awful, some of them are actually not that bad. This set includes a few beauty hacks I’ve seen around the place: Aspirin for pimples DIY glitter eyeshadow Activated charcoal for teeth Wasabi lip colour Dark circles and tea bags Check it …

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How to Use Glycerin for DIY Beauty

How to Use Glycerin for DIY Beauty

Glycerin’s in a lot of skincare products because it’s an awesome humectant moisturiser that can grab onto water and hold it to the skin. It’s also very cheap to buy at the supermarket ($9.35 for 200 mL at Coles in Australia, $6-7 for 473 mL/16 fl. oz on iHerb or Amazon).

Glycerin for DIY Beauty

What can you do with it? Here are some (low-effort) suggestions:

  • Make a moisturising nail polish remover
  • Make a hydrating toner
  • Put glycerin in DIY serums
  • Use glycerin to boost your moisturisers
  • Add glycerin to clay masks to stop dehydration
  • Hair treatment
  • DIY eyeshadow foiling medium

Make a moisturising nail polish remover

diy nail polish remover

Most nail polish removers have this issue where they either work very well but dessicate your cuticles, or they’re kind to your skin but take forever to dissolve nail polish. This acetone-glycerin mix blends the best of both worlds: acetone will dissolve your nail polish like no one’s business, and glycerin will stop it from stripping away moisture. Here’s my recipe for a gentle but effective DIY glycerin/acetone remover.

Related Post: DIY Gentle (but effective) glycerin nail polish remover

nail polish remover
nail polish remover

Make a hydrating toner

Glycerin is found in tons of toners thanks to its ability to hold onto water, which can revive dehydrated skin. Plain water will normally dehydrate your skin because it makes your skin more permeable, then when it evaporates it makes your skin drier than before. Adding glycerin stops this from happening.

The only problem with this is that glycerin/water combos need preservatives if you leave them for more than a few days, because glycerin is very good food for bacteria (if it’s above ~50% glycerin content it’s a bit like honey so bacteria can’t survive…but it’s also sticky and thick like honey so it isn’t pleasant to have on your skin all day).

Related Post: Humectant Waters and Sprays: A Quick Fix for Dehydrated Skin


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Does Biotin Work for Brittle Nails?

Does Biotin Work for Brittle Nails?

Biotin, also known as vitamin B7 or vitamin H, pops up in every supplement marketed for strengthening hair and nails. Do biotin supplements actually work for brittle nails?

Does Biotin Work for Brittle Nails?

The answer is – it depends. Gah! Read on for the gory details…

Are you getting enough biotin in your diet?

Nutritional supplements generally only make a difference if you’re not getting enough of that nutrient normally, and biotin seems to play by this rule.

The daily recommended intake of biotin for adults is 30 μg/day, and a Western diet generally contains enough biotin. You can find biotin in leafy green vegetables, nuts (peanuts and almonds in particular), avocados, corn, cooked eggs, liver, salmon and meat. Some intestinal bacteria make biotin, which could also contribute to your overall consumption.

Does Biotin Work for Brittle Nails?

Some factors can decrease your biotin though. Biotin seems to be lower with high alcohol consumption, smoking, gastric acid disorders, in burn patients, epileptics, athletes, the elderly and with some inborn genetic disorders. Pregancy and breastfeeding also decrease biotin.

Eating uncooked egg whites can also decrease biotin, even though cooked eggs are a good source! Raw egg white contains a protein called avidin which binds tightly to biotin, preventing it from working. Cooking the egg destroys the avidin.

How can I tell if I have a biotin deficiency?

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Ladybird Nail Art


I haven’t done a nail art post in a while, so I thought I’d finally post a mani I did recently. I painted this ladybird design using Furless Bitch, a solid black, and Sea Siren Cabin Fever, a bright red creme. Unfortunately Cabin Fever’s designed to be worn on its own, so it took quite a few layers until the …

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Is Triphenyl Phosphate (TPHP) in Nail Polish Dangerous?


The news broke recently that nail polish can harm your health (again!). This time, it’s triphenyl phosphate, a chemical used in nail polish to increase flexibility – it’s also used as a fire retardant. It’s a potential endocrine disruptor (“it could make you fat!”), and was found to be increased around seven-fold – or so it was reported. In particular, the Environmental Working Group (the people behind the “sunscreen is toxic” story every summer) has been the source for most of these articles.

News sites are notoriously bad at reporting scientific studies, so I went back to the source to read the full text of the original paper from Mendelsohn et al.. Unfortunately it’s behind a paywall, so I can’t link you to the full text, but I’ll provide a summary instead.

What’s TPHP and what are its effects?

Triphenyl phosphate (TPHP) is a chemical used in plastics to improve flexibility and as a flame retardant. A handful of animal studies and in vitro studies have suggested that it could be an endocrine disrupter which affects your hormones – in particular, it could potentially affect reproductive health and lipid metabolism (that’s where the “nail polish makes you fat” headline comes from). A couple of epidemiological studies in humans have also found correlations between TPHP and decreased sperm counts. However, all of this is far from conclusive evidence, and as you’ve probably gathered from being on the internet in the past 5 years, it’s almost like every chemical ever can be linked to endocrine disruption if you try hard enough.


In the body, it’s metabolised quickly to a related chemical, diphenyl phosphate (DPHP), and excreted in the urine.

What studies were performed?

The paper reports two main studies, performed with a nail polish containing 0.97% TPHP by weight.

“Cohort 1”

  • 16 female students removed any nail polish they were wearing 72 hours before the experiment.
  • They then collected one sample of urine (T1).
  • 24 hours later, they painted their nails with two coats of the same clear polish.
  • 2 – 6 hours later, they collected another urine sample (T2).
  • 10-14 hours later, they collected a third urine sample (T3).

“Cohort 2”

  • 10 females removed nail polish they were wearing 72 hours before the experiment.
  • All urine was collected in the study, either for 24 hours (6 subjects) or 48 hours (4 subjects).
  • The participants first collected urine for 24 hours, during which they didn’t use nail polish (Control Phase).
  • The subjects were divided into two groups:
    • Half painted their nails with 2 coats of the polish (Nail Painting Phase).
    • The other half painted synthetic nails attached to latex gloves, then waited an hour before throwing out the gloves (Glove Painting Phase).
  • After waiting at least 7 days, the groups swapped over (this is what’s known as a crossover study, where each person essentially acts as their own control).

The urine samples were analysed for DPHP content. To account for dilution effects (e.g. if one person drinks a lot of water), the urine samples were corrected for specific gravity (SG).


I don’t have a comprehensive background in designing biological studies or in statistical analysis, but nothing really rings any alarm bells for me (but I’m happy to be corrected if anyone spots any shifty manipulation!).

Does wearing nail polish increase the amount of TPHP in your body significantly?

In terms of concentration, yes, it appears so, in both experiments – to quote the study, “nail polish is a likely source of exposure to TPHP and that use may result in exposures substantially greater than background levels.” (Background means in the absence of nail polish.) It’s worth noting that you have to wear the nail polish, not just inhale it – Glove Painting didn’t cause the same increase. As well as the hard numbers, it’s pretty apparent, visually, from the graphs of urine DPHP from Cohort 2 (which I’ve painstakingly re-graphed to hopefully avoid any awkward debates about Fair Use).


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JORD Wood Watch Review



Today I’m reviewing a JORD wood watch. JORD is one of the many companies coming out with wooden watches now – apart from their obvious hipster appeal, they actually have a few advantages over metal and plastic. Firstly, they’re very lightweight, which is a big plus if you’re into chunky watches. They’re also not as sweaty and sticky as plastic. On top of that, the natural wood grain finish is gorgeous! The raw wood finish is more fragile and needs more upkeep than metal or plastic though – I wouldn’t wear this to the gym.


JORD wood watches are made from sustainably sourced wood. I picked Ely in Dark Sandalwood to review. It’s crafted in an elegant deep brown and black theme, with eye-catching silver accents. The attention to detail in this watch is very obvious when you see it, from the smooth links to the carefully engraved JORD logo on the back of the watch.

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Fact-check: What’s to blame for the Mentality Nail Polish problems?


Update (2018-12-05): Since Danny of Mentality Nail Polish has generously sent me a cease and desist for defamation as seen in the comments section, I’d like to interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to clarify (even though I think it’s pretty damn clear already) that the causes of the issues are science-based opinion and speculation. 

Welcome to every nail polish lover’s nightmare – nail disease. Wearers of Mentality Nail Polish have been waking up to this horror: mentality-nail-detachment-dmm-nails

mentality-nail-detachment-dmm-nails Thanks to @dmm_nails for letting me use images of her poor nails!

The technical term for this is onycholysis – when your nail detaches from the underlying nail bed. It’s painful, it’s inconvenient, it’s ugly, and you have to wait til it grows out to recover (if it ever does). There are lots of write-ups on the multitude of legal and ethical fuck-ups that Mentality Nail Polish have made in handling this issue, so I’m not going to rehash that in this post (you can read all about it at The Mercurial Magpie and Ashley Is Polish Addicted, amongst others). Like many others, I’ve been racking my brains wondering what exactly went wrong.

Of course, we won’t know for sure until someone gets analysis results back from a lab. Mentality “almost have enough funds” for an analysis now (although they’ve reportedly known about this problem since September last year, and a GCMS can ordered for under $100 and they haven’t even done that, so I’m guessing we’ll hear the results in 2020 or after an injunction?). But since they’re going full Laganja on this one, I’m not holding my breath.


In the meantime, here’s my analysis of all the speculations that have been flying around. Keep in mind that these are just speculative hypotheses and my opinions on them only – they’ll change as we get more complete information (which is pretty tricky, as Mentality have been deleting their posts, and I’m having trouble finding some of their past statements… I’m sure a lot of links I currently have here will die!). As I’ve read more, I’ve changed my mind about 7 times about what I think the most likely cause is. I’ll be updating the possible explanations as they develop.

What we know

  • Indie makers typically buy a pre-made base from a larger manufacturer, then add tints and glitters. This is what Mentality have supposedly been doing.
  • From Mentality’s Facebook page:
    • Mentality were using Tevco and Fiabila base (3/4 free), but sometime late last year/early this year they switched to a base from Arminex (5 free – parent company of Nubar). They’ve since switched back. They do not make nail polish base themselves… “yet”.
    • The problematic polishes aren’t isolated to the neons, although the neons were very popular and consumed whole barrels of the base, so they’re the most commonly reported.
    • Mentality degassed all the bases to “remove air bubbles and found that Arminex base is very foamy, compared to the other manufacturers whose polish base does not foam upon degassing.”
    • Not everyone who wore them were affected (around 40 people have reported reactions to Mentality so far). The earliest case was @spilledmilknails, a Mentality swatcher, in September 2014.
  • From people who own the affected polishes:
    • The polishes with the different base smell very “chemical” “like melted plastic”, and the smell seems to have gotten worse over time.
    • Some people were reporting stinging, itching and redness upon application.
    • People who experienced nail detachment generally wore them for longer periods, while swatchers who removed them immediately were generally affected less. There are exceptions though – apparently someone swatched them for 4 hours and ended up with nail damage a few days later.

Faulty Arminex Base Theories

This is the angle that Mentality have been pushing, which makes sense because it means less liability for them and hence their best chance of getting out of this without being buried in a steaming turdpile of legal troubles.

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