So what’s a mani-pedi loving girl with a conscience to do? It’s not an easy topic, but here are three options, starting with the most hardcore.
1. Stop going to salons and do a DIY buff.
I converted to buffing when Siobhan and I first started researching No More Dirty Looks, and I still love it.
It’s low maintenance (no chipping!), it still looks pretty and clean, and it’s said to be good for nail health because it increases circulation to the area. As a child of the 80s, I also have an abiding love of long nails, but think they look best with clear polish or a nice shiny buff. You can buy a buffer at the drugstore and just follow the easy instructions.
2. Support the cleaner (and more expensive) salons.
Green and clean eco salons have been popping up in cities across the country. Are they perfect? No. The truth is even the more natural nail polishes contain some pretty gnarly chemicals.
But a good, clean salon will have great ventilation, and use natural removers and moisturizers. Your nose will know the second you walk in whether a place is clean — and you can bet the workers feel the difference. They're also usually more expensive than your standard $20 manicure-pedicure combo, but that’s kind of the point here.
3. Go to your favorite salon, but bring your own stuff (and talk to the staff).
Have a salon in your neighborhood that you go to and really don’t want to give up the ritual? Then take the time to chat with some of the women working there.
If you’re paying $10 for a manicure, chances are they’re not being paid a legal wage. But if you feel like the work standards are solid, then you can always show up with your own basket of products: hand-cream, less toxic remover, a 3-free polish (or get a buff).
You might feel a little silly the first time, but you’ll be exposing yourself — and the manicurist — to fewer chemicals while also raising awareness at the business.
Do you go to nail salons? What’s your take on the topic?