Over the past several decades, the commercialization of nail cosmetics has increased. From nail polishes to artificial nails, different methods of nail beautification have become popularized. However, the impact of these products remains largely unknown. Governments have passed legislation in attempts to regulate nail cosmetics, but these regulations may not be adequate and are difficult to enforce. Knowledge of the safety and efficacy of nail products remains limited due to the relative dearth of literature published on the topic. This review serves to summarize and interpret the data available regarding common nail products and their safety and efficacy. Nail products such as nail polish, nail polish removers, and artificial nails have shown to have some adverse effects through case reports and studies. Harmful substances such as toluenesulfonamide-formaldehyde resin and methacrylates have been identified in commercial nail products, leading to several adverse effects, but in particular, allergic contact dermatitis. Exposure to substances such as acetonitrile found in removers may have more toxic and caustic effects, especially if ingested. In addition, for nail technicians there are negative effects linked with occupational exposure. Compounds used in nail products may become aerosolized and lead to asthma, eye and throat irritation, and even neurocognitive changes.
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