recess at nightI don’t go to nail spas anymore. I haven’t been in one for about four or five years. When I tell my friends this, they are shocked and ask me why. My answer: nail spas are toxic. To find out if a nail spa is toxic, all you have to do is walk in, smell the air, and take a look around. If the air smells like chemicals and you see manicurists wearing masks, you’ll know the products they use are toxic. It’s not rocket science.

Why are nail products so toxic? It’s all in the ingredients. Over the years manufacturers have put harsher and harsher chemicals in their products to meet the performance demands of their consumers. Today, top of the line nail polish products may outperform others in terms of hardness, color and chip resistance, but the ingredients are taking a toll on the human body that you cannot see.

Here’s a quick rundown of common ingredients found in nail polish. Ingredients include formaldehyde, phthalates, toluene, synthetic resins like nitrocellulose and plasticizers. Nitrocellulose is the primary ingredient in nail polish and is a flammable and explosive ingredient used in making dynamite1.

Common health risks associated with the above ingredients are quite extensive. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and can be the source of allergies, headaches, chronic fatigue, contact dermatitis and can be extremely irritating to the eyes, nose and throat. Phthalates are a group of chemicals linked to birth defects and liver cancer in lab animals, as well as asthma in children. They are also a known endocrine disruptor. Because phthalates can hide behind the “fragrance” label, look for “fragrance-free” products or products that exclusively use pure essential oils. Toluene has been linked to neurological disorders, and has been known to cause liver damage, skin irritation and respiratory tract issues.

So this is why I don’t use common conventional nail polish and I don’t have my nails done at spas… until I found Recess in LA. They are the first eco-friendly nail spa that I’ve been to that’s using a healthier choice of more natural nail polish treatments like Zoya, and is designed to LEED Guidelines (Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design).

When I walked in the door I knew immediately something was different. The salon didn’t smell like chemicals. The nice gal who greeted me walked me to back to the beauty bar and asked me to pick out my favorite soak and lotion scent from their line of Recess products. The first thing that went through my mind, “…do they use real essential oils, or fragrance that is loaded with toxic phthalates??” To my surprise they use real essential oils! With joy I picked out my favorite lavender scent. In fact all of their Recess products are organic, fair trade and do not contain parabens, formaldehyde, petroleum or dyes. All of their nail treatments including basecoats, topcoats, and strengtheners are non-toxic. I was thrilled!

When I sat down in my lovely chair with a cute crystal chandelier hanging over my head, I was offered a glass of champagne or sparkling lemonade. I couldn’t resist, I had to have both. And they served it to me in a real glass (not a disposable plastic cup)! My lovely manicurist got to work straight away on my feet and hands. She immediately placed them in a warm organic soak, scrubbed them with their divine Dead Sea Salt & Sugar Scrub, treated my cuticles, trimmed my nails, massaged my feet and hands, moisturized them with a warm lavender paraffin wrap and finally polished them with my favorite colors! This was truly a treat.

Recess’s eco-friendly efforts don’t stop with their more natural nail polish and products. Here is a short list of their everyday salon eco-friendly activities (this doesn’t include the green building supplies they used to build and open the salon which reads like a laundry list):

  • They use fabric towels, over paper towels in the restrooms
  • They use NON-TOXIC cleaning supplies when possible
  • They are on a Bus Line to encourage Public Transportation
  • They are in the process of making a Carpool Parking Spot to encourage Clients to come together, save fuel, and reduce carbon emissions
  • They use the Blue Box Recycling System onsite to reduce landfill trash
  • Our products are organic and manufactured in recycled bottles
  • Our Technician Lamps use LED’s which are very energy efficient
  • Toilets have a dual flush and pressure, reduces water use.

When I read through their salon menu, I was even more impressed to see a service for “acrylic rehab. ” Acrylic nails can increase your susceptibility to infection and contain formaldehyde. Recess actually encourages their removal in an effort toward a healthier lifestyle. They have formulated this special service with the extra TLC needed to rehabilitate those worn out nails. Clients are even sent away with a bottle of Natural Nail Growth Stimulator and Miracle Cuticle Repair Oil for daily home use. That’s pretty cool!

For those of you who like to bring your own tools, Recess is in the process of implementing an incentive program to encourage clients to bring their files, buffers, orangewood sticks and foot files to receive $2 off their service. So if you are in LA and looking for a healthy mani and pedi, check out Recess!

If you can’t make it to her salon, you can get a complete list of nail polishes I recommend in the LauraKleinGreenClub.com. This membership website will teach you how to create a healthy non-toxic home for you and your family. It is based upon a home consultation service I developed, which shows you how detox your personal cair products like nail polish, your cleaning products, food products and more step by step.

  1 http://www.enotes.com/how-products-encyclopedia/nail-polish