To find an eco-friendly nail salon, you may have to do some legwork. As you ask around, keep in mind that the most important thing when it comes to greener nail care (and in protecting your health) is to minimize or eliminate your exposure to chemicals. That means you’ll want to find a nail salon that uses no- or low-chemical product lines and is adequately ventilated over all other eco-concerns.

  • Inquire at salons in your area: Perhaps the easiest way to find a green nail salon is to call or visit some in your area and ask questions about what they’re doing to reduce their environmental impact and protect the health of their employees and patrons. Questions to ask include:
    • Do you use low-chemical or chemical-free products?Conventional nail polish and nail care products often contain a cocktail of chemicals—such as acetone, toluene, ethyl acetate, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and formaldehyde—that can pollute the environment during production and threaten human health when inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Products that are labeled as free of these chemicals, and those that are labeled as water- or plant-based or low-VOC are safer for the environment and human health.
    • Is the salon adequately ventilated? Even with low-chemical products in use, a good nail salon should be adequately ventilated so that the place doesn’t have that heady chemical smell when you walk in the door. Many of the chemicals used in nail care products pollute indoor air and cause health problems when inhaled.
    • Does the salon itself feature any eco-friendly attributes? Some nail salons have made improvements to the salon itself, such as installing energy-efficient lighting and energy-saving equipment, or using renewable bamboo flooring. Even better, ask if the salon is powered by solar or wind energy.
    • Do you recycle? In addition to ensuring that the salon you choose recycles their nail polish bottles and other supplies, ask if they use products housed in eco-friendly packaging, made from recycled-content materials.
    • Do you use natural cleaning products and laundry detergents?Methods used by your salon to clean laundry, instruments, and building structures should also be green. Ask if they use natural cleaning products, laundry detergents, and pest control techniques.
    • What sanitation measures do you follow? Health risks associated with nail salons that do not involve chemicals primarily involve bacterial infections that can be picked up easily if tools and equipment are not properly cleaned and sterilized. For example, in 2000, 110 patrons of a Santa Cruz, California, nail salon contracted infections from a pedicure bath with an uncleaned filter.[1] Make sure that the salon you choose properly sanitizes all equipment and follows strict sanitation policies.