Manicures are a popular way to treat yourself at the spa or salon, but do you know how to choose a manicure that will be safe for both your body and the environment? A study published in 2012 by the California EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control found that many nail polishes still contain potentially harmful chemicals, so it’s important to know what kind of treatment to request from your stylist or what brands to purchase on your own.
At the Salon
Traditional manicures and pedicures use many of the same types of products you might use at home, though brands may vary. Historically, many nail polishes contained chemicals like dibutyl phthalate and toluene, which are developmental toxins, and formaldehyde, which is a carcinogen. These chemicals are often referred to as the “Big 3,” and many brands have eliminated them from their products. Check with your salon to see what kinds of products they use, and if you aren’t satisfied with the ingredients in those products, ask if they would consider switching. You could also bring your own polish with you. Plenty of salons offer eco-friendly services, though, so do some research ahead of time.
Gel and shellac manicures have also become popular recently because they last for two to three weeks without chipping. This type of treatment may be convenient, but it does come with some drawbacks. After the polish is applied to your nails, it’s dried using a UV light, which can cause damage to your skin just like UV rays from the sun. If you do choose this option, be sure to apply sunscreen beforehand.
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