There is no such thing as a “cheap” manicure. From the hidden human costs of “The Price of Nice Nails” to the harmful health effects of the harsh chemicals in inexpensive products, the ethical and physical costs is much higher than that $10 price tag. Manicures can be a lovely and healthy indulgence. Taking the time each week to treat yourself, connect with your friends or zone out with your feet in a spa tub, are all important to your mental well-being. Plus, we love the thrill we get when looking down on bright new nails (especially when our fingers are decked out in KR rings).
In looking for an ethical nail salon, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Know your salon. Beyond cleanliness and hygiene, gauge how the technicians are treated by developing a relationship with your technician. Note how often the staff changes. Consistency and longevity usually mean the technicians are being treated well and compensated. The California Health Nail Salons, an NGO and nail technician rights organization, has a helpful checklist here. And sadly, if the prices seem too good to be true, they probably are.
Know your products. The chemicals in nail polish can be incredibly toxic. The worst offenders are dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde, aka “the “Big Three.” Most polishes found in salons – like Essie and OPI – are 3-free polishes, meaning they don’t have these chemicals. Some brands are taking it further offering, 5-, 7- and 10-free formulas for an even more non-toxic manicure.
We’ve rounded up our favorite nail salons in New York and LA, who use ethical products:
A great way to ensure you are getting the most ethical manicure? Do it yourself! Create your own spa at home with non-toxic polishes from RGB, Pritti NYC and Julep. Round out your at-home salon with Deborah Lippmann’s jojoba and coconut cuticle oil and Weleda’s cult-classic Skin Food.
Now that your hands are beautifully manicured, why not show them off even more! There’s no better way to adorn them than with a piece of Kalaki Riot jewelry. Check out our new collection of rings and bracelets.
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