Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

The Styled Side: the trend towards more 'organic' nail salons

by Take Two®

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Chau Nguyen puts artificial nails on customer Bianca Alatorre. Nguyen first opened the nail shop on Sept. 4, 1985. Maya Sugarman/KPCC

There's a movement afoot in Southern California to make going to the nail salon better for the environment and your hands.

And it all started with the New York Times.

"Last year, on this very week, the Times published a series of articles on the nail industry that made the front page," says Michelle Dalton Tyree from Fashion Trends Daily. "It served as a big wake-up call to both consumers, businesses and regulators."

It sparked a national conversation about not only conditions at salons but products, themselves, and cleanliness.

Nail polishes traditionally came with chemicals like toulene, formaldehyde and camphor. 

Tyree says there's a trend in response to that Times story: customers are asking for polishes without those chemicals, even organic ones.

"West Coast brands are leading the charge to change these formulas," she says, pointing to companies like Jenna Hipp and RGB.

More salons in SoCal are also slowly expanding their offerings of "green" products, including one run by Tyree's sister Jackie Dalton.

"Lollipop Nail Studio based in Costa Mesa, helmed by Jackie, has been among the pioneers of salons going greener and cleaner," Tyree says. "Her salon has been recognized nationally for being ahead of this trend."

Other salons include Can Can Parleur in the Fairfax neighborhood and Elite Organic Nail Salon in Long Beach.

Tyree says if you're dedicated to the salon near you, you cannot directly ask for "organic" products because that term isn't regulated when it comes to nails.

Instead, she suggests you ask for "5 free" products, a widely known term in the industry used to describe chemicals without toluene, dibutyl phtalate (DBP), formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and camphor.

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