Tip of the Month: How To Find a Healthy and Safe Manicure

Nail polish image

Tip of the Month: How To Find a Healthy and Safe Manicure


Jamie McConnell

Director of Programs
& Policy

The recent New York Times article on the working conditions of nail salon workers in New York has raised some much needed attention about the hazardous chemicals salon workers are exposed to in the workplace. And it’s important to remember that clients who are receiving nail treatments such as manicures and pedicures are also exposed to harmful chemicals found in nail products. With warmer temps the demand for pedicures and manicures goes up. Here are some tips for getting a safe and healthy manicure to protect not only your health, but the health of your manicurist!

  • Look for salons that participate in a Healthy Salon Recognition program. Participating salons use nail polish free of the toxic trio (formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene), safer nail polish thinners, and safer nail polish removers. Salons participating in the program also commit to installing a ventilation system and the use of nitrile gloves to help reduce exposure. Recognition programs have been established in California, Washington, and Boston.
  • If you don’t have a salon recognition program in your area, consider bringing in your own nail polish that is free of the toxic trio. You can find safer alternatives here. If you’re picking up nail polish at your local retail store check the label to ensure it doesn’t contain formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, and toluene. Steer clear of brands that have been found to contain harmful chemicals.
  • If you have a good relationship with the salon you frequent, take along our factsheets on tips for reducing exposure and harmful chemicals to avoid in salon products. The tips for reducing exposure is also available in Vietnamese and Spanish. Start a conversation with your manicurist or the salon owner—it could lead to changes in the salon you love to visit!
  • The root of the problem is the fact that salon products are allowed to contain harmful chemicals. There’s no reason chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, and reproductive harm should be allowed in products workers are exposed to for hours at a time for days on end. Take action and tell the FDA to ban the toxic trio in nail polish!

Leave a Reply