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In October of 2009, I was finally able to meet my 18 month-old niece, Sophie. Her mother, the MAC artist who gifted me with the Chroma polish last year, lives several states away. While I had previously spoken to Sophie, I had never actually spent time with her in person, and once I got the chance, I was smitten.

They stayed at my parents’ home, about 30 miles inland. (And up to 60 minutes away, in traffic) I drove out there after work, long after Sophie had been put to bed, and spent several nights on a leaky (read: deflated halfway through the night) air mattress, just to wake up and spend time with this little darling.

In direct contrast to the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes too big over those two weeks and I was completely devastated when they packed up their suitcases and went home.

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My husband could see this “dark cloud” coming and in his own inimitable way, made sure I had numerous reminders of my little niece. He bought and loaded a digital photo frame with images of our time together, setting it to a constant slide-show that played whenever I wanted to see her smiling face. He bought me an identical stuffed turtle to one we had purchased for Sophie when we took her to the aquarium. (Yes, I have stuffed animals. Moving on…) He also made sure I had a copy of the film “Up” which he knew would give me another excuse to cry, and distract me from my woes…

His tactics worked, better than either of us imagined, because not a month later, I found myself  “in the family way.” It was not planned, but was welcomed, and I have been scrutinizing many of my pre-pregnancy activities with the intention to give this child the best chance at a healthy start.

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Now considering that you are reading a nail polish-centric blog, I should stay on topic by mentioning my prior tri-weekly manicure habit. I have had to pare it down to once a week, in an effort to keep the fume exposure, to me and the baby, to a minimum.

As much as I would ideally like to stop polishing my nails altogether, it’s not going to happen, so I’ve been sticking to the Big3Free brands. As a former nail-gnawer of 30+ years, my nails are one aspect of my appearance that I can take pride in. When my belly becomes so round that I can’t see my feet, at least I can admire my swollen fingers with their perfectly painted tips.

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What I never knew about pregnancy hormones, is that, in addition to making you sick most mornings, they also increase your sense of smell. Exponentially.

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Now, let me be perfectly clear. I love the smell of nail polish. After a week, I used to suffer withdrawal symptoms if I hadn’t done my nails. (Okay, maybe I just had a hankering to change colors, but the odor was never a deterrent. Except to my husband, which is why I only did my nails when he wasn’t around.)

Suddenly, the fumes wafting from my nails are waking me up at night. This, after using a supposedly “toxin-free” polish and top coat, and even several DAYS after they have cured. If a previously pleasant fragrance now offends my nose, I reason that our little baby (never having had the joy that comes with a perfectly executed manicure) will most likely not enjoy the odor either.

Furthermore, my hands and nails will be in close proximity to the child’s face and may end up in his/her mouth. (Especially considering that babies are like sharks- they explore with their mouths first and ask questions later.)

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Now, it wasn’t just the fumes keeping me up. It was the possibility that I could make my own child sick with a hobby that I love. What is a mom-to-be, who loves nail polish, to do?

I recalled having read a review or two about water-based polish and the lack of toxic chemicals that make them kid-friendly. I also clearly remember that those reviews were not especially favorable.

I decided to do some research of my own and have found exactly 8 reviews of water-based polish on nail polish blogs, and another 3 on Mom-based blogs. About half the available brands are represented here and the results vary widely.

These are the reviews I was able to locate:

Sula Paint & Peel:

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Suncoat:

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Various brands:

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Piggy Paint: (the last three are not polish bloggers per se, but Moms who have tried the brand with their daughters)

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I was hoping for comparisons, both of the polish and its treatment counterparts, topcoats/basecoats, if needed, and any proprietary removal products. Now that I know no comparison like this exists, I take on the task myself.

I have contacted every water-based polish company for which I can get any information online, and will report my findings, if and when I receive samples. (The only brands I have been able to locate in brick-and-mortar locations are Sula at Ulta or Anthropologie and Hopscotch Kids at This Little Piggy Wears Cotton.)

Here is the list of companies I have sent messages to:

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I will keep you posted on the quality, appearance, wear and durability of any polish that I am able to test. I have received very favorable responses, and am optimistic that while this is a relatively small blog in a vast sea of nail blogs, a side-by-side comparison will provide another method for spreading the word about this unique product.

I hope they will see value in being compared to other products of their caliber for the many other expectant polish fanatics, polished Moms and their fashion-forward children, and anyone else who refuses to compromise their health for a mani/pedi fix.

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I welcome your input as well! If you have any experience with, or feedback about, these types of water-based polish, please feel free to contact me: wixology@gmail.com.

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