Happy Summer Feet: Water-Based Nail Polish

Red Toenails (can I just say that it's hard to take a nice picture of one's own feet?)

I love bare feet in summer. . . especially if they are mine and the toes are sporting red polish! I know that there are definite color trends in nail polish, but I keep reaching for the red for my toes, as my style tends toward Classic. And because it makes me happy.

However, nail polish and polish removers are nearly all quite toxic: they carry high levels of phthalates (known to cause reproductive deformities in male babies) and harsh/toxic solvents. Fortunately, there are some brands now available without these toxic ingredients. The two I’ve tried are Honeybee Gardens and Suncoat. (I’ve copied some of the safety info from Suncoat at the end of this post.*) They are both water-based (imagine that!).

So, how did they work? Here’s my review:

Watercolors Desire

Honeybee Gardens Watercolors Nailpolish
Price: retail $6.99, luckyvitamin.com $5.21

I purchased two colors of this polish, “Desire” for myself (toes) and “Valentine” for my 6 year old daughter. I noticed right away the absence of odor unless you stick your nose right up to the wet polish. Also, the polish was slightly thinner than some conventional polishes I’ve tried, so the suggestion to do 2 coats is a must for getting the color to look dark enough (this is in the case of the red on toenails).

Watercolors Valentine

My only bad experience with this polish was in washing my feet too soon after applying (this was really user error, not the fault of the polish). It was February and my feet were quite dry; I applied the polish and then showered immediately after the polish dried. I think my toenails soaked up water in the shower and expanded, or something, because the polish peeled up in huge flakes. When I avoid applying it before going in the water this polish lasts several weeks before chipping.

Suncoat Water-Based Nail Polish
Price: retail $8.99, luckyvitamin.com $6.89

After having tried the Watercolors brand, I decided to try out the Suncoat brand in “Red ‘n Red“. It was a little more expensive, but I think the intensity of color blows Watercolors out of the water (sorry, bad joke) and that makes it worth it to me. I’d still buy the other for little girl polish, but I was really impressed with the red-ness of this polish. Also, they seem to have some pretty hip options on color (even a black) . . . not that I’m straying from my classic red. . . ๐Ÿ™‚

Again, I was impressed that there was no odor. (I even painted my toenails in the car on the way to a wedding without any complaints from my husband! Not recommending it. . . just keeping it real.) And 2 coats are a must in a dark color. They do recommend their clear-coat for a shiny finish, but I’m happy with the “satin” finish of just the 2 color coats. How long has this polish lasted? I’m on day 31 without any chips that I can see from my 5’5 vantage point (I’m 8 months pregnant, so don’t ask me to get any closer!).


The instructions say to remove with isopropyl alcohol: I was particularly happy about this as conventional removers seem to be a pretty toxic set (straight solvents, right?). However, I did try removing it with my conventional remover (before getting the alcohol and pitching the old one), and the polish came right off as normal. I have also tried removing the Suncoat polish with isopropyl alcohol, but it takes some time and rubbing to get it all off. I do have a lot of grooves and ridges on my toenails, so I’m sure it would be easier with smooth fingernails, but you should be aware of this if you switch colors a lot.

*Why switch to water-based? Some info from Suncoat is below, for more see the page on luckyvitamin.com.

Why is Water-based so much better?

  • Environmentally Friendly: Conventional nail polish contains large amounts (typically around 70%) of chemical solvents such as toluene, acetates and alcohol. When nail polish is applied to nails, these solvents evaporate into the air, generating toxic chemical fumes; the well known and VERY offensive “chemical smell”. This is why many people find it hard to breathe when using conventional nail polish: you are surrounding yourself with heavily polluted air, inhaling toluene, acetates etc.; chemical solvents. In Suncoat water-based nail polish, all the chemical solvents are replaced by water. The major ingredient is water, not chemical solvents! So when Suncoat water-based nail polish is being applied, it is only water that evaporates to the air, not toxic chemical fumes.
  • Safer to Nails:The chemical solvents in conventional nail polish, after repeated use, can discolor nails and make them brittle and weak. This is not an issue with water-based nail polish.
  • Not A Safety Hazard:Since conventional nail polishes contain around 70% chemical solvents, they are highly flammable and explosive. They are often classified as dangerous goods. They are safety hazards for retail stores, salons and residential homes. They should be kept away from heat, open flames such as burning candles, etc. Water-based nail polish, on the other hand, is not considered dangerous goods, and is much safer to both store and use.
  • Other Benefits of Suncoat Water-based Nail Polish:No Phthalate of Any Kind.Many conventional nail polishes contain a deadly chemical, namely, phthalate. Phthalate, such as dibutyl phthalate (DBP), has been proven by research studies to interfere with normal hormone balance, can cause severe birth defects and other health problems. Phthalate is a very effective and popular plasticizer that gives nail polish flexibility, and helps prevent polish from cracking. Phthalate is also a very low volatile chemical (meaning will not evaporate quickly). So after the polish is applied to nails, phthalate will stay on the nails with the polish, and can penetrate into our system, causing health problems. Suncoat water-based nail polish is phthalate-free.
  • Formaldehyde-free: Many regular nail polishes have formaldehyde-releasing ingredients, used in preserving the formulation. Formaldehyde has been reported as a carcinogenic chemical. Suncoat water-based nail polish is formaldehyde-free.


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I’m linking to theinspiredroom.net.

0 thoughts on “Happy Summer Feet: Water-Based Nail Polish

  1. Great post. I’ve also tried Suncoat and was impressed with the longevity of it. Even one coat lasted quite a while. I didn’t love the dull finish though, so the gloss top coat would be a good buy for me. I bought the remover that was sold with it and I can also attest to the amount of rubbing that is required. But if you are only removing and reapplying once a month, it’s worth it.

  2. How quickly does it dry? I don’t do toes, only fingernails, and it seems I never have much time before I need to be doing something/touching someone, so I only use quick dry options….however I have to do it once a week since it chips a lot…

    1. LOL! You’re awesome about fitting in little jobs between other tasks, Darla…seems like I wait to block off entire days for things like painting my toenails. I don’t know how long it takes to dry, but next time I have a full day free, I’ll redo my toes and time it. Seriously, they do need it now, and I always make it a point to have them looking nice before I have a baby. ๐Ÿ™‚ So I will get to it soon and let you know! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Thank you for letting us know about this product! I’ve always liked polish, but have never wanted to use it much because it can be so toxic.

    I ordered Suncoat’s Desert Sunset, Pearl White, and the clear topcoat. I am quite impressed. Because it doesn’t dry all that fast, I do it at night and by morning I can take a shower without it washing off.

    I’ve had a little trouble with the clear coat staying on my fingernails. It is pretty thin, and can scratch off. It helps to have a color under it.

    As far as how it smells, you are right about not being able to smell it unless you get up really close. And then to me, it smells like paint.

    Anyway, I wanted to say thanks! I’ve really enjoyed it.

    1. I’m not really sure. I rarely get a chance to shop there, and don’t even check their personal care area when I do, since it’s such a dangerous place to take children. ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, I’ve come to like shopping for those things online with the benefits of customer reviews and discounted prices. A notable exception: lip liner. I have a hard enough time choosing the color in person, much less online!

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