Tox-Free to The MAX: Product Battle #5: Zao | Tromborg | Korres Nail Polishes

It’s the season of gloves! Isn’t wearing nail polish in winter like wearing sexy secret jewellery? And as usual, I’m making sure that my picks are tox-free to the max.


In acceptance of the fact that there is no 100% organic nail polish out there, and also that water-based polishes are made from tox-free but still synthetic ingredients, I’m exploring the cleanest conventional possibilities we’ve got.
Since I’ve been sharing my opinion about Korres quite a bit (here’s a review that I keep updating with every new purchase, and here is a Q&A about whether or not Korres is a green brand), some of you have asked if I had alternative, greener-than-average brands that I would use (other than water-based polishes like Scotch Naturals and Suncoat).
Readers have asked me to try Priti NYC, Sheswai, Kure Bazaar, and The Organic Glam.
But last I checked, Sheswai lacquers contained Camphor and Polyethylene Terephthalate; Kure Bazaar and Priti NYC products contained Glycol and Benzophenone-1, Priti NYC also “stood out” with the use of Polyethylene Terephthalate.
The Organic Glam polish is on my list to try, plus I have found two more brands with quite a colour range: UK’s Zao and Tromborg of Denmark.nail-polish-battle-on-beautycalypse

IN THE N++E++W++S:
As I was preparing this post, LOGONA Naturkosmetik have launched the first organic certified colour nail polish. Certified with NaTrue and BDIH, the 4ml bottles (approx. €15) come in 4 fashionable shades, and with a few PROs and CONs.
Let’s have a look?
Alcohol denat.*, Shellac, Aqua (Water), Ethyl Lactate, Talc, Silica, Glycerin, Mica, Maltodextrin, Tin Oxide, [+/- CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 75470 (Carmine) (Contains carmine as a color additive), CI 77491 (Iron Oxides), CI 77499 (Iron Oxides), CI 77492 (Iron Oxides), CI 77007 (Ultramarines).
* from organic farming.
Free from synthetic colours, fragrances, preservatives, paraffin oils or any other petroleum-based raw materials
Not vegan (Shellac, Carmine), and the only organic ingredient is in fact “Alcohol denat.”

Not sure what LOGONA mean when they speak of “plant oils and extracts from organic cultivation” on their website. Ethyl Lactate from corn? I’m a bit lost here. Ideas? What am I overlooking?”

But on to my actual topic, shall we 😉


As discussed before, the customer asks for a quick-drying, long-lasting, nail-protecting lacquer. So in order to give us just that, the companies who are willing to cut out the Really Bad StuffTM still need a lot of chemical compounds to give the customer what she asks for: solvents, plasticizers, you get the idea. And to see the (remaining) ingredients of Korres, Zao and Tromborg compared, please keep reading.korres-zao-tromborg-price-mlLet’s begin with a brief review in terms of product quality: how does it dry, how good is the brush, how does it wear, does it chip? – And right after this brief review with swatches you will find a clickable comparison chart.

KORRES: quick-drying; very glossy throughout the range; long-lasting (though some colors seem to chip much faster; for an in-depth review please look here). The Korres polishes are available in 18 colours, vamped up by regular seasonal additions and limited editions, like this blood red metallic (“55 Ruby Red”).KorresRubyRedLimited-swatchZAO: turbo quick drying; the colour I’ve tested (“647 Rust”) – very glossy; 2 coats with no base/top coat lasted for 3 days straight, tips chipped on day 4. The orange colour is bold and opaque but looks in real life slightly more muted than in pictures; the broad, slightly flat brush makes the application very easy. The range today includes 15 intense and modern colours.zao-orange-nail-polish-review{…and doesn’t it look fab on a yoga mat, with that sustainable bamboo handle? :)} zao-orange-nail-polish-swatchTROMBORG: equally quick-drying, to the extent that you can watch it dry (you can technically apply the second coat 20 seconds after the first); the colour I’ve tested has a satin finish and an ‘elastic’ feel, meaning it doesn’t chip but rather ‘wears off’. 2 coats with no base/top coat lasted for 5 days straight. The fine, long brush faciliates minute application. The colour I have tested, ‘Epona’ is a sublime, deep anthracite shade with different tones of silvery blue shimmers from teal to ink blue, that turn green-ish in artificial light. The range today consists of 22 gorgeous opaque and metallic shades.tromborg-epona-nail-polish-review{Tromborg aesthetics whisper: “Sleek Northern design”} tromborg-epona{A close-up of the pearlescent colour? Yes, please} tromborg-epona-nail-polish-swatch


Do I have a favourite? Well. I do like the wear and the colour range of Tromborg lacquers but sadly, they are not vegan-friendly. The Zao polish performs very well and given the gorgeous colour palette, I can see me stock up on Zao polishes in the future. The company uses RSPO palm oil for their make-up range, so I’ll have a bit more Zao goodies to review soon. Ingredient-wise, Korres still leads, simply by numbers (and intensity of toxins they cut out).
Please check out the following chart to see why I think so – and tell me what You think. Which one would be your favourite? Do you consider all three clear winners given what we compare them to otherwise? Also: do you think big-3-free is enough?nailpolish-battle-zao-korres-tromborg{CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE}

As you can see, 100% natural, all-safe nail polishes don’t exist today. And if they do, like in the LOGONA example above, they will not satisfy the vegan beauty maven in you.
Solvent-based polishes, however “green” they claim to be, seem to be really hard to keep “clean” as you can see here.
While water-based polishes are free from most/worst offenders on this list, they are petroleum-based.

Now, if you’re curious about the polish you use,
>>> Check how safe Your favourite nail polish is or
>>> Ask BEAUTYCALYPSE about your fave product
>>> or look what was found in conventional nail polishes recently

>>> ABC: Nail polish remover battle (acetone free)
>>> ABC: Your Guide to Non-Toxic Nail Polish
>>> Product Review: Scotch Naturals
>>> Alternatives to Nail Art sans Polish (as announced in the Non-Toxic Nail Polish Guide)
>>> Tox-Free Nail Art – Looks & Trends
>>> My Magic Wand To Fight Dry, Brittle Nails/ Dry Cuticles

WHERE I SHOP | no affiliates:
Korres (KaDeWe Berlin),
Zao (ecoco organics),
Tromborg (Galeries Lafayette Berlin)


Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

12 Responses

  1. Gulay Cetin

    I liked very much your nail polish toxicity evaluation article. Thank you for that hard work.
    I’d like to ask the ingredients of Organic Glam which is promoted as organic nail polish.
    Another question is about Suncoat Nail Polishes. As far as I know it is 100% natural water based nail polish and has vegan colors. Can you evaluate those 2 brands and explain the Pros and Cons? I am in between 2 of them. Which one is cleanest? Wasn’t able to chose!
    Thank you so much…

  2. Din

    Great post and amazing chart. Makes it so much easier to decide for the right nail polish. However as mentioned I struggle a bit with the lasting power of most of them. Which reminds me in your post, never to use your nails like a tool. Well…
    I will check out for sure Tromborg and Zao for sure.

  3. How awesome is this post? Great breakdown and to be honest, it didn’t occur to me that the other brands were synthetically-natural. Seems like I have to check out Korres polishes next time! xo

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