Green Revolution: 15 Non-Toxic Nail Salons in the U.S.

Nail care is the latest segment of the beauty industry to offer natural products and services for guilt-free pampering.

Courtesy Van Court Studio
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A relaxing trip to the nail salon is one of life’s little luxuries, but when the New York Times published a two-part exposé on the industry in 2015, it revealed a scary trend. Nail technicians in New York City, the stories reported, were suffering serious medical conditions caused by the toxic chemicals in nail products and were subject to unethical working conditions.

Not long after the articles ran, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo passed ventilation regulations for salons in the city, an important step to be sure, but a small one compared to the San Francisco Department of the Environment’s Healthy Nail Salon Program, which has been certifying health-conscious salons since 2012.

Luckily, nail salons and nail polish manufacturers around the country are finally initiating change from the inside out. For their part, health-conscious brands now boast what they lack, rather than what they do: Most polishes on the market are already “three-free,” foregoing formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and toluene, but there are a number of newer companies creating five-, seven-, or even nine-free paints. These non-toxic polishes, which include safer-ingredient substitutes, are just as pliable and long lasting, says Mary Lennon, cofounder of non-toxic polish brand Côte. “It costs a little more, but it’s well worth the trade.”

Salons too are taking up the cause, stocking their shelves with these non-toxic polishes and utilizing natural and organic lotions, scrubs, and oils in their services. Still other green salons go a step further, establishing rewards-based recycling programs, sourcing sustainable materials for furniture, or using VOC-free paint on the walls. These non-toxic salons are a breath of fresh air (literally), and they join other segments of the beauty industry (skincare, lipstick, makeup) in the welcomed shift toward organic and all-natural offerings.

Here, the 15 salons to visit across the country now.