Sally Hansen - Nailgrowth Miracle

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Katherine Hanley
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Nailgrowth Miracle is a growth treatment for your nails produced by the company Sally Hansen, who claim to be America’s number 1 nail brand. They guarantee that your nails will be 30% longer in just 5 days while also preventing brittleness and splitting of the nail, for someone like me who has always chewed their nails, this sounds perfect! However, nail polishes and treatments have been quite widely known to contain some highly toxic and unsustainable sourced chemicals, and although many companies, including Sally Hansen, have been forced to phase out some of these chemicals in recent years, I have found that their new replacements are often no better! Sally Hansen and their parent company Coty inc. do not appear to be committed to significantly improving their sustainability, with many of their targets and plans often being inadequate and unclear. Their “Beauty that Lasts” sustainability strategy sounds good in principle but I think they need to take it further and in a shorter time frame in order to have a significant impact.

What it's made of:


Sally Hansen failed to disclose the origins of all Nailgrowth Miracle ingredients, many of which are commonly derived from petroleum or coal tar but alternative plant-based sources can be used, however, Sally Hansen’s lack of transparency on this unfortunately suggests that use of more sustainable sources is unlikely. They have recently introduced a “Pure” nail polish range which claims to be plant-based and 100% vegan, however considering the fact that there are only about 30 shades available in this range compared to the 100s of different shades available across the rest of their ranges I am very doubtful about Sally Hansen’s attempt to become more sustainable which to me appears quite performative.

Sally Hansen do provide a full ingredients list on their Nail Growth Miracle web-page, however they do not offer any further information about the function, safety or origin of any of the ingredients they use. They do state that their nail polishes do not contain toluene, formaldehyde or dibutyl pthalate (DBP), which are three very toxic chemicals that until fairly recently were very widely used in nail polishes. These three chemicals have been proven to effect the central nervous system and the respiratory system, irritate your skin, disrupt development and cause reproductive problems, formaldehyde is also a known human carcinogen (causes cancer). Despite all these toxic effects they are still found in many nail polishes today. Many nail polish producers, like Sally Hansen, have phased out the use of these three chemicals, however, to do this some of them have starting using more recently developed alternative chemicals which produce a similar result. One example of this is triphenyl phosphate; this chemical is an alternative to using DBP as they both improve the flexibility and durability of nail polishes/nail treatments. But triphenyl phosphate has now also been found to disrupt hormone activity in the body and have effects on development and reproduction, the risks are therefore much higher for pregnant women and children/teenagers who’s hormone levels are changing as they develop. Triphenyl phosphate is a listed ingredient in Sally Hansen’s Nailgrowth Miracle. Isopropyl alcohol is also a listed ingredient, and although it does not have such a significant toxicity it does disrupt your skin’s natural barrier, therefore potentially increasing the risk of other more toxic chemicals penetrating your skin and being absorbed into the body. Another concern is that there are several other chemicals listed as ingredients which are either suspected or confirmed environmental toxins, and these can cause lasting damage to aquatic life if introduced to water systems. 

How it's made:


The Sally Hansen website provides no information about the manufacturing process for their products or about the factories they use and this lack of transparency is concerning. However, Sally Hansen’s parent company Coty inc. have released a 2020 sustainability report after the launch of their new “Beauty that Lasts” sustainability strategy in February 2020. This report does disclose data for Coty’s greenhouse gas emissions over the last 4 years and describes their targets to reduce CO2 emissions by 30%, reduce energy consumption by 25% and switch to 100% renewable energy by 2030. Although it is good that Coty have disclosed this data as well as more current data on their progress, I think their targets are quite minimal and could be more ambitious, I am also concerned that much of their claimed progress regarding emissions in 2020 was only due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic rather than due to sustainable changes made within the company.

The Nailgrowth Miracle bottle is made out of glass which can be recycled, however it must be empty as contamination with the chemicals in the nail treatment can prevent many recycling facilities from being able to process it, the small size of the bottles can also be an issue. The cap of the bottle is plastic, and although Sally Hansen claim this plastic is recyclable they also do not recommend that consumers disassemble the cap from the brush themselves for safety reasons, and this means that the cap/brush component cannot be recycled at most facilities. Neither Sally Hansen or Coty inc. have proposed a solution for this problem which indicates that they are not holding themselves accountable for the full life cycle of their products as there is not a sustainable way to dispose of them.

Who makes it:


Sally Hansen inc. is an American brand which was founded in 1946 by Sally Hansen, she was a successful self-made entrepreneur which was very uncommon for women at that time. The company’s focus is on nail polishes and treatments but they also have products in tanning and hair removal. In 2007, Sally Hansen was bought by Coty inc. who are an American based multinational beauty company with many other subsidiaries in the fragrance, cosmetics, skin, nail and hair care industries. Coty inc. is the world’s largest fragrance company and one of the largest in the beauty industry.

The Sally Hansen website provides very little information regarding the treatment of their employees and workers who are part of their supply chain, however, the Coty inc. website does provide more detailed and up to date information.
One section of significance is about their use of palm oil (and it’s derivatives), most of which is not yet sustainably sourced. And Coty have been linked with an investigation into the unacceptable working conditions and sexual abuse of female workers at an Indonesian palm oil plant. They also provide information about their sourcing of mica (used in many Sally Hansen nail polishes but not Nailgrowth Miracle) which is well known for its risks of child labour use in India, and only 53% of Coty’s mica sources have been traced to the exact mines in India being used. Coty do claim to recognise that they have a lot to improve on, and to be working on improving traceability of their sources and supporting the Responsible Mica Initiative as well as the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil. But they are not clear about exactly how they are making these improvements or on what time-scale, therefore this does not suggest that ensuring the safety of all the workers within their supply chain and using sustainable sources is a priority that they are making fast progress on.

Coty inc. is in a long-term partnership with Global Citizen, they are an international organisation working to end extreme poverty, and Coty claim to have contributed to their advocacy programs for the LGBTQ+ community, disabled workers and gender inequality, but they are not particularly clear in exactly how they contributed. Coty also claim to be working to improve diversity and inclusion within their company, for example by reducing the gender pay gap and increasing the proportion of women in leadership positions. They also mention how they made a financial donation to Black Lives Matter in 2020 and are rolling out a diversity, equity and inclusion training programme, but this won’t be complete until 2025. I think that Coty could be doing much more to commit to social justice, especially regarding their financial donations, one off donations at times of social pressure are likely to be performative. Overall, I would not recommend buying Sally Hansen’s Nailgrowth Miracle treatment due to their use of toxic ingredients, questionable sources and supply chain management as well as their inadequate sustainability strategy; there are other safer and more sustainable nail care brands available.