Green Nail Salon Standards? Says Who?


Come fall, you could have one more reason to visit San Francisco- and get a manicure while you're there. Last week the San Francisco Board of Supervisors introduced an ordinance that, if passed,  could enable San Francisco nail salons to qualify for a 'green seal' if they chose to stock less toxic nail products, which appears to mean '3-Free' products without toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate (these chemicals are linked to cancer and birth defects).

My question is, who gets to decide which products truly qualify as safe? Certainly any move to get these three chemicals away from salon workers and customers is an important one, but I fear that some salons that aren't quite as green as they should be will probably squeak by with stamps of approval. See, even 3-Free polishes contain questionable ingredients like isopropyl alcohol, ethyl acetate and camphor, which are suspected neurotoxins. It seems to me that it's difficult to give a product a green seal of safety when so many questions remain. It's a tough call, but maybe we need to be sticking to water-based brands or using a completely different process- like Minx?

In the meantime, here's what you can do to find the safest nail salon near you:

  • If the nail salon isn't exclusively using water-based (water-based is rare), look for a salon that is well ventilated, advertises its commitment to '3-Free' polishes and avoids all other brands that don't make the cut. You don't want to be breathing in someone else's formaldehyde during your appointment!

Of course, you could always avoid the nail salon altogether in favor of a DIY option or beautiful buff!