Monday, September 23, 2013

The Perfect Ten: Mani-Pedi for the Earth Angel

I love going to the nail salon to get pampered, I'm sure I'm not the only one. It's a little splurge that helps me relax and results in beautiful digits. Unfortunately, mani-pedis are not very Earth-friendly and, with the exception of the relaxed feeling that results, they aren't very good for your body either. Just like so many other things that I love, I must add them to the bad list and replace them with an Earth-friendly option. (Yes, there is another way!)


Here's the deal, the process from start to finish is chemical city. The pedicure sinks they soak your feet in must be disinfected using harsh, nonbiodegradable chemicals. Tools are shared between customers. It's a green goddess' nightmare (I just learned that green goddess is also a salad dressing, so I do not mean this nightmare to involve withered vegetables or anything like that, but hopefully the context was enough so you new that).

Über Chic is an eco-friendly salon in Edgewater, CO

On top of this the products used specifically for nails (at the salon or at home) go directly to your bloodstream (do not pass the liver, do not collect $200). It turns out that while your nails are hard, they are absorbent and therefore do not form good barriers (you might say they form better windows than doors).

Many nail polishes contain formaldehyde, which as you might remember from Cleanliness is Next to Godliness: Hair, is a carcinogen with many undesirable qualities. Dibutylphthalate is another common ingredients. See the phthalate hiding in that word? It's another carcinogen and a hormone disruptor. The dibutyl form is a potential reproductive toxin and endocrine disruptor. You may also find the volatile organic carbon toluene, which is a neurotoxin.


Piggy Paint is a harsh-chemical free nail polish marketed for children, with ingredients as natural as mud.

The removers aren't much better. According to the National Institutes of Health, acetone is a poison which can cause death; coma; unconsciousness; seizure; respiratory distress; kidney damage; nose, throat, lung and eye irritation; intoxication; headaches; fatigue; stupor; light-headedness; dizziness; confusion; increased pulse rate; nausea; vomiting; and shortening of the menstrual cycle in women. Most nail polish now state they are "non-acetone" but what do they replace this nail polish removing miracle poison with? Acetate.


It may be listed as ethyl acetate, amyl acetate or butyl acetate. It's not as bad as the original stuff (acetone) but the fact that it's "flammable" and the "vapor may ignite" and warns me to "keep out of eyes" and that it's "harmful to synthetic fabrics, wood finishes, and plastics, makes me wonder, "If it's not safe for my table how is it possibly safe for me?"



No Miss Inc. sells  healthy alternatives to beauty products at an affordable price.

What about the Earth? Good point, observant reader, I have not begun to discuss the impact these products have on the Earth. When nail polish and remover go down the drain they seep into and contaminate groundwater. Additionally, while the bottles are technically recyclable, the vast majority of nail polish bottles end up in the landfills where they leach out.



Now what!? Don't cancel your appointment yet, as always I have solutions for your beauty needs.

  • Check your city and regional magazines for local green salons and spas.
  • Call or stop by some local salons and ask them the following questions:
    • Do you use and carry eco-friendly products? Check ingredients and make sure you would use understand the ingredients.
    • Do you employ water-saving practices, such as reusing rinse water?
    • Do you use energy-efficient equipment?
    • Do you use natural cleaning products and laundry detergents? Refer to greening your home part 3: cleaning supplies for information about what to look for.
    • Do you recycle?
    • Do you offer other eco-friendly services? They may not always use eco-friendly practices but they may offer services to people who ask.
  • Consider skipping color and opting for a simply buff and shine treatment (the unnatural color just chips away in a few days anyway).
  • If you love color, only use polishes which do not contain toluene, phthalates, or formaldehyde. You can find some at:
  • Make sure your remover is acetone- and acetate-free. Try No Miss Vegan Nail Polish Remover (smells like vanilla!). While more and more salons are offering earth-friendly nail polishes, the remover is harder to find so take your color off at home.

What earth-friendly products do you use for a perfect ten?