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With names like “Brazen Hussy” and “Born Again Virgin,” Cheeky Monkey Cosmetics most certainly earns its “cheeky” moniker. The edgy nail polish purveyor boasts that all of its vibrant hues are “3-free,” meaning they come without formaldehyde, toluene, or DBP. The company sent us “Blue Room Ball Buster” and “Spank Me” to try.
One of the things that’s unique about their site is that there are — no pun intended — balls to the wall about their risqué branding. This includes a cocktail recipe with almost ever color and letting customers write their own brazen tales to go with the salaciously named hues. At $15 bucks a pop, this polish can be a bit pricey.
A Bit about Being “3-Free”
The ingredients that replace formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP are butyl acetate, ethyl acetate, and nitrocellulose. The studies that show that the infamous “toxic three” — which is a misnomer as even beneficial and natural ingredients can become “toxic” at a certain quantity — are dangerous do so in quantities that are far in excess of what you’d be exposed to in nail polish.
Nitrocellulose is the main polymer used in nail polish (Chemists Corner). By using this plastic-like material, nail polishes have a flexibility that helps stop chipping. Though its quite flammable, it also has a very low toxicity (OSHA).
Butyl acetate, which is a solvent, works well for coating because it levels well and has a high gloss (Dow). On the one hand, butyl acetate can cause the same kind of irritation as toluene — including irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat (CDC, OSHA). On the other hand, the Material Safety Data Sheet, rates toluene at a two for health (MSDS), and butyl acetate at a one (MSDS).
Ethyl acetate is the least toxic of industrial organic solvents, and works well for coating and varnishes, particularly with nitrocellulose (Chemical Weekly).
Personal Use and Opinion
I like Cheeky Monkey’s branding and I liked their nail polish colors. It’s super fun and very bold. I wasn’t, however, the biggest fan of the consistency of its nail polish. It’s quite a thin formula, which wouldn’t be too problematic (the instructions say to use two coats), if the polish didn’t also level poorly. I found it very difficult to get a thin enough coat to have even polish, and even when I did, it seemed to almost separate and become uneven. Extra coats definitely help this problem, so that it’s absolutely possible to get a nice manicure — it just takes a little more effort. I liked the way my nails turned out overall.
Cheeky Monkey Cosmetics nail polish has a great novelty factor and a lot of people will appreciate that it doesn’t contain formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP. The website is definitely worth taking a glance over too. I wasn’t overly impressed with the formulation, which is thin and doesn’t level well. Overall, it’s a fun, fearless brand with pretty good nail polish.