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What if you could walk into a nail salon and not smell the pungent odor of acetone or feel your eyes start to water in response to fumes from nail polish? A small but growing trend of “green” nail salons is spreading across the country. Salon owners and those involved with providing safer cosmetics are working to create a healthier environment that still allows women to enjoy being pampered but without the risk.
San Francisco is one city that has made a formal move to enact, support and endorse “green” nail salons by passing the country’s first Healthy Nail Salon Recognition Ordinance. The city has over 200 nail salons that may apply and qualify for a “green” seal by changing over to using products free from hazardous chemicals. This ordinance was made possible through the implementation of the California Safe Cosmetics Act.
In 2005, California became the first state to pass a safe cosmetics act, which was vigorously opposed by the cosmetics industry. This bill in turn has helped pave the way for the Federal Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, currently up for review by Congress, that will offer the same protection women all across the country.
There are over 115,000 nail technicians in California alone who are exposed daily to the chemicals in nail polish known as the “toxic trio”. Toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate have been linked to cancer, birth defects, asthma and other chronic diseases. The majority of their nail technicians are Vietnamese women of child-bearing age who often work long hours in poorly ventilated areas. These women are particularly susceptible these chemical hazards and the risks can extend beyond their own health to those of their unborn children.
Without required labeling laws it is hard to make manufacturers list what ingredients really are in their nail polishes so it is difficult to know which products are dangerous or not. The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 “gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority to ensure that personal care products are free of harmful ingredients”.
The move towards eco-friendly nail salons isn’t just taking place on the west coast.