There was a short time period in my life during which the highlight of my week was getting a manicure.
Up until this point, I’d really never liked getting my nails done professionally. But I was overworked, underfed, and very stressed—self-care and wellness hadn’t become a priority in my life, yet. The idea of taking one hour out of my day to get my nails done (and pay someone else to do them) gave me a little joy, and I reveled in sitting quietly, undisturbed, as my manicurist painted my fingernails in deliberate strokes.
When obligations began to prevent me from getting my weekly fix, I switched over to longer lasting gel manicures. After just a few rounds, I was shocked to see that my fingernails turned transparent and began peeling off in layers until it was almost painful to tap the top of my nailbed.
I cut my manicure habit cold turkey to let my fingers heal, and eventually, my life shifted and became more balanced—the weekly manicure ritual was replaced with yoga, meditation, eating better, and leaving behind that stressful job. Plus, I was still a little freaked out by that peeling-nail situation. So when I began researching green beauty and found that nail products are some of the most toxic cosmetics out there, I wasn’t exactly surprised.
That strong, recognizable nail polish smell is actually a sign of airborne toxic chemicals, according to the Environmental Working Group. These chemicals are often endocrine disruptors, and side effects include hormone disruption that results in weight gain and reproductive issues, increased likelihood of developing cancer, and organ failure. In order to increase shine and prevent chipping, most nail polish formulas include a range of hormone-disrupting chemicals. And it’s not just dangerous to inhale the fumes from the bottle while painting nails—turns out these chemicals actually leach into our bodies.
A Duke University study revealed that after women used nail polish containing the toxintriphenyl phosphate (TPHP), blood tests showed that levels of the chemical increased seven-fold. It’s clear that conventional nail polish can be harmful to our health—and potentially very dangerous for women who work in nail salons, too.
So what’s a well-manicured girl to do? Start booking appointments at an all-natural salon. They’re just as chic (if not more!) as what you’re used to, and the green beauty industry has developed polishes and products that rival your favorite OPI color when it comes to longevity and opacity.
Started by a polish-loving New Yorker, you’d never guess Olive & June only uses non-toxic products. With locations in Beverly Hills, Pasadena, and Santa Monica, the salon falls more on the “haute” side than the “hippy” side. It’s beautifully decorated, and the impeccable service (they’ll note in your client file if you like your cuticles pushed back, how to shape your nails, and polish colors you love) will make you swoon.
Olive & June, 430 N Canon Drive, Beverly Hills
It’s way more than organic nail polish at Alchemie; the entire spa is all about sustainability and eco-friendly practices. That intention is obvious from the moment you walk through the 100-percent post-industrial recycled wood doors—Alchemie boasts a truly green experience. The spa uses vegan and organic products whenever possible, and the sweet estheticians massage in essential oil-scented hand lotion during your appointment. If you don’t mind drinking recycled water out of cute Mason jars, Alchemie is a great choice for an eco-conscious mani-pedi.
Alchemie Spa, 2021 Main St, Suite B, Santa Monica, CA 90405
The founders of this light, airy shop located in the heart of Brentwood set out to “detoxify” every aspect of the salon experience—from the toxins in nail products to bad interactions with an esthetician. Côte is beautiful on the inside (you’ll seriously never want to leave!) and the service is on-point. You’ll never get have that awkward reach-in-my-purse-and-grab-my-credit-card-because-my-nails-are-wet experience at Côte. My favorite aspect of the shop? They’ve created their own technicolor-hued line of nail polish you can buy during your visit or online, so you can do your own non-toxic touchups at home!
Côte, 11714 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049