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With the holidays come parties, vacations, and visits with people you haven’t seen in ages. Chances are you’ll probably be visiting a nail salon or giving yourself a manicure in the upcoming months, as well. For New Yorkers, visits to nail salons are almost TOO convenient and affordable to pass up! But if we’ve learned anything over the past couple months, it's that cheap and convenient doesn't usually equate with healthy...for us, or for the environment. So it comes as no surprise that local nail salons are culprits of poor environmental health on quite a few levels. Have no fear…the Naturalchemyst is NOT about to tell you to put the brakes on your favorite quick indulgence! But while the EPA is working on the regulation of conditions and products in nail salons nationwide, I do have a few suggestions to keep in mind...

While I’ve used the BYOP acronym for “Bring Your Own Products” in the past, today I’m using it for “Bring Your Own Polish”. The polishes used in most nail salons contain three harmful ingredients, which are each known carcinogens: formaldehyde (used to harden polish, but it can effect your inhalation), toulene (used to spread polish evenly but it can effect your nervous system), and dibuytl pthalate (already been BANNED in Europe, this can effect reproductive organs). Toxic polishes with these ingredients are the first culprit of poor environmental health in nail salons. So if you’re in a time crunch and cannot make it to a natural nail salon (unfortunately they’re still few and far between), make sure to bring your own non-toxic polish.

Big polish brands are removing the above ingredients NOW, but the old polishes in your collection or your salon’s collection are not necessarily non-toxic. Due to the lack of packaging regulation in the U.S., there are many polish brands that have begun to advertise as "formaldehyde-free," when the products still contain this toxic ingredient. Your best bet is to stick to natural nail salons or to bring your own non-toxic polish. Remember, if we as consumers begin demanding this non-toxic polish, the salons and stores will have to follow suit. Here are some good non-toxic polish brands to check out...

With over 300 colors to choose from, Zoya has the largest selection of all non-toxic polishes. For this reason, Zoya is the easiest to find of all the non-toxic polishes. Zoya also costs around the same amount as the two brands carried in most nail salons… so there’s really no excuse for salons NOT to begin carrying this line, is there? Like many non-toxic products, Zoya is the eponymous line of a nail technician who discovered all the toxic ingredients in most polishes while she was pregnant. Now we all can benefit from her healthier line of products!

Priti Organics is another great brand. The owner of Priti (which was also developed during a pregnancy) used to run New York City’s first organic nail salon. Unfortunately the salon is now long gone, but their soy-based nail polishes and non-toxic products are better than ever! The products can be found online and in some very fun NYC salons and stores, like One Lucky Duck and Michael Angelo's Wonderland.

It’s a bit pricier, but Butter London is the Naturalchemyst's personal favorite. It has current and stylish colors, an easy to apply handle, and some very cool packaging (the Creative Director has worked for such clients as Jimmy Choo, H&M and Vogue...maybe you have heard of these??). I found the product at Georgia in NYC, but it can also be found online at major beauty retail outlets, and in the Butter London nail salons in airports all over the country.

Some other good non-toxic nail polish brands are: Acquarella, Honey Bee Gardens, Polished Mama, Rococo, and Sante. When choosing a non-toxic polish, remember to ensure that the polish is free of the 3 harmful ingredients, formaldehyde, toulene and DBP.

A natural nail salon will always use non-toxic, 3-free polishes. There are three natural nail salons on the entire island of Manhattan - Sweet Lily Nails, Sakura Uptown and Sakura Downtown. Not surprisingly, there are other cities with just as many (if not more) natural nail salons. In the next post, I'll explain the importance of natural nail salons, and the steps that the EPA is taking to ensure all nail salons become more natural. Until then, please enjoy the beginning of the holiday season!

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