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Is Nail Glue Toxic?

by Gabbi

Those who regularly schedule nail appointments know the smell that comes with just about every single nail salon. The chemical odor that accompanies each of your self-care sessions may have been overwhelming during your first couple of visits, but you may be at the point where you’re no longer bothered by the scent!

With the number of different chemicals and products used in a nail salon on a regular basis, even an hour-long visit with your nail technician can leave you feeling woozy and lightheaded. It can leave you wondering about even the most simple ingredients, and have you asking questions like:

Is nail glue toxic? Though it’s a common product sold in stores and found in most beauty salons, most nail glues are toxic and should be handled with extreme caution and care. When inhaled, accidentally applied to the skin, or mishandled in other ways, they can prove to have negative side effects. Thankfully, there are non-toxic formulas you can opt for instead.

In this article, we’ll break down what parts of nail glue are causing issues, what alternatives you have, and even show you our favorite non-toxic nail amazons you can add to your collection!

Ingredients To Avoid In Nail Glues

There have been multiple case studies regarding the ingredients in nail glues, and which ones tend to cause the most health issues when it comes to repeated exposure.

Among the most problem-causing ingredients are as follows:

  • Toluene
  • Formaldehyde
  • Metahcylate Compounds

Let’s break them down so you know exactly what these chemicals are, and what kind of dangers they can wreak on your body.


Toulene is a clear liquid with a super-strong, almost sweet scent that you most likely associate with nail salons.

You can also catch this odor at gasoline stations, factories, or hardware stores (mainly in the paint section). It’s used in a number of different industries, and those who are under consistent exposure are the most at risk. 

Even from initial exposure to the chemical, those may find themselves with watery eyes and itchy noses. Over time, this can lead to confusion, headaches, muscle issues, and even kidney and liver problems.

Take a look at the ingredient list on your nail glue bottle. Though it may not say “toluene”- it can say “methyl benzene” or “phenyl methane”- which are other names that toluene goes by. 


This is a chemical that you may have heard a lot about. Its reputation as being a highly toxic agent is lengthy, but it’s unfortunately too common a component in the industry for its usage to be reduced. It’s colorless and extremely flammable and is one of the main reasons why there are calls for high ventilation in nail salons. 

General exposure to formaldehyde can cause serious irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. The eyes can also be irritated and turn red.

All of these symptoms worsen over time, and can even lead to cancer in extreme cases – which is why you should never be ashamed of taking breaks during your nail appointment to get some fresh air!

Methacrylate Compounds

If you’ve ever left a nail salon and felt that the skin around your nails was red and irritated, or found that you woke up the next day to your cuticle area flaky and dry, it’s likely due to the methacrylate compounds that are commonly found in nail art products.

It’s so common, in fact, that in a 2014 study, it was found that 93% of salons in the US used them.

This ingredient is also a big reason why there are calls for ventilation in nail salons. When it comes to choosing your nail tech, always look at reviews to ensure that people haven’t fallen victim to inappropriate applications.

Methacrylate can affect nail techs as well as their clients, giving them contact dermatitis over just a handful of exposures, so it’s worth it to do your research.

Nail Glue Alternatives

The scary reality is that using nail glue on a regular basis, or even mishandling it on accident, can lead to some pretty devastating side effects. Thankfully, there are a handful of alternatives that you can use to avoid exposing your hands to these chemicals.

  • Clear Polish – You can use clear polish to adhere fake nails to your hands. It’s easy, non-toxic, and can hold just as well as nail glue. Simply apply clear polish onto your nails (either gel or traditional polish), wait for it to get tacky, press on your fake nail or nail tip, and hold it in position (or cure it), until it dries.
  • Nail Sticker Tape – Though some people aren’t fans of nail stickers, as they don’t necessarily hold as long or as well as nail glue, they are a healthier alternative for your nail and surrounding skin. 

Are All Nail Glues Toxic?

Truthfully, the number of toxic nail glues on the market (and used in salons) vastly outnumber non-toxic versions.

However, the call for “healthier,” generally more safe formulations is on the rise, and more and more companies are ensuring the safety of their products so that clients and technicians alike can use them in confidence. 

There are a couple of features you can keep an eye out for when it comes to choosing non-toxic nail glues, but the most important one is that it uses ethyl cyanoacrylate over “methyl” based products. These are naturally derived, making them easier on your nails and skin.

Picking out organically derived products is also a good choice, as they’re free of sulfates, parabens, alcohol, and other potentially irritating chemical additions.

That way, you can use them regularly, and safely at home. If you get your nails done professionally, don’t be afraid to ask your technician if they can swap out their choice of glue with yours!

It does’t hurt to know how to apply nail glue properly in order to avoid complications, so take a look at this tutorial from Red Nails Never Fail On YouTube.

Non-Toxic Nail Glue Options

RankProductKey Features
1.ECBASKET for Artificial NailsEthyl-based with natural resin, long-lasting, bubble-free application
2.Weglau Pink Nail GlueOdorless, recent reformulation, ethyl-based
3.Makartt Super Strong Nail GlueEthyl-based, good for repairs and initial application, lasts 14 days

1. ECBASKET for Artifical Nails

Check current price on Amazon

There’s a common misconception that more naturally derived beauty products don’t perform as well as those with chemicals or other additives- when in reality they can be compared to professional-grade products.

This nail glue by ECBASKET is fast drying, can bond quickly to your natural nail, and can last up to a month with proper care.

Instead of coming in a singular bottle, these nail glues come in tubes, with each tube of glue being filled enough to use for multiple applications.

The brand says that 10 tubes of their glue can last for up to 40 manicures (depending on the style of press-on you use).

Of course, we can’t fail to mention how safe these fake glue tubes are for your natural growth and the surrounding skin. This nail glue is MSDS and SGS certificated, with the base of the product being ethyl based, so you can rest assured that you’re using glue that’s safe for you.

There’s no odor, and the ingredients are naturally derived making for the safest experience possible.

2. Weglau Pink Nail Glue

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This product has been recently reformulated, so it’s clear that the brand cares about customer feedback and their products enough to make the switch to a healthier ingredient list!

Their nail glue can be used for a wide amount of needs, including the initial application of your false nails (both long and short), repairing broken nails and chips, or even applying nail art like gemstones and other designs.

To make for an easier, more precise application process, the glue is applied via a brush applicator, so you can use as much or as little product as you need.

Like the other products on this list, this nail glue is MSDS and SGS certificated, ethyl-based, and naturally derived, making for a safe application process and zero damage to your natural nails and the surrounding skin. There’s no odor, and it boasts a non-toxic formulation so you can use it again and again with total confidence. 

3. Makartt Super Strong Nail Glue

Check current price on Amazon

Makartt nail glue is a fantastic choice for those who frequently use acrylic nails, but this formula is great for those who opt for press-ons, gel nails, or would rather apply false tips.

The quality of this glue is incredible and can last just as long as the nail glues you’d have applied to you at the salon!

For those who may be a little more on the impatient side, you’ll be big fans of how quickly this nail glue dries. Simply hold your nail in place for 5-10 seconds for a budge-free finish every single time!

Of course, this glue is made of only the healthiest ingredients, and is also ethyl-based, so you can preserve the natural strength and health of your real nails, and have no risk of experiencing contact dermatitis or other allergy-based reactions after application. 

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