Statement from the FDA on to the Link Between Manicures & Cancer

This statement breaks down facts about the link between manicures and cancer.


The Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) and our member companies firmly believe that nail salon workers should be provided the tools necessary to work in a safe environment.  Workplace safety and workers’ rights are very important to our member companies, whether in their own operations or the practices of their business partners.  In fact, many of our member companies have ‘codes of conduct’, which outline ethical business practices and expectations for their business partners. These often include provisions for labor rights, and health and safety.  


It's also important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the nail products intended for use at home and in salons. Under these regulations, the labels of all cosmetics, whether marketed to consumers or salons, must include a warning statement whenever necessary or appropriate to prevent a health hazard that may occur with use of the product. Cosmetic product manufacturers must comply with these labeling requirements.


Additionally, state and local authorities regulate the operation of nail salons and the licensing of manicurists and nail technicians. You’ll find that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has addressed the safety of employees in nail salons on its website “Health Hazards in Nail Salons.”

It’s stated on FDA’s websiteby law, that nail products sold in the United States must be safe for consumers when used according to directions on the label. FDA also states that while many nail products contain potentially harmful ingredients, the agency allows them on the market because they are safe when used as directed.


Nail polish products have been used safely for many decades by millions of people. Fingernails and toenails are made of keratin, which is hard and largely impenetrable. Once nail polishes, treatments, and hardeners dry, the ingredients in the products become embedded in the hardened film coating on the surface of the nail, and are not able to be absorbed by the body or released into the air.


For many years, information has been circulating in the media alleging potential adverse health effects from exposure to certain ingredients in nail care products, such as toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate. However FDA also states on its website that all of these ingredients, based on available safety information, are safe under current conditions of use in nail products.  Furthermore, with the exception of some usage of formaldehyde in nail hardeners, PCPC’s member companies, who sell the majority of U.S. nail products, have significantly reduced or eliminated their use of these ingredients.


“Free” labeling is a way to help consumers understand ingredients labels – a trend we’re seeing across every major consumer goods category, whether food or beauty. Anytime we can help consumers more easily understand what is in a product and so make a more informed decision – that is something we can all support.


FDA regulates cosmetic product labeling.  Unless a product contains labeling information that is false or misleading or that otherwise violates any provision of the Fair Packaging and Labeling Actproduct manufacturers may make any substantiated claim.  FDA has not issued any guidance or regulation with regard to “ingredient-free” claims.  However, manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that any such claims are fully supportable. 


Ingredients listed in the ‘free’ claim products are allowed by FDA, who has clearly stated on their website that ingredients are safe when used as directed. Their perspective on many of these ingredients can be found on their webpage. Additional safety information on many of these ingredients can also be found on PCPC’s cosmetics safety science website:

We recommend that you reach out to companies individually with questions about specific product claims.


Want to know how to look marvelous without splurging so much? Dr. Oz invites three beauty experts to share the smartest ways to save money while looking fabulous starting from your hair and makeup tools to the beauty products you use.