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nail salons identify themselves as “green” because they use alternative products that, for instance, are free of DBP, toluene, or formaldehyde. Others have expanded their activities to include a range of green business practices such as paper and plastic recyling programs, water-saving devices, and energy–efficient building designs. Consumers who prefer to support more environmentally friendly businesses have no standard by which to judge nail salons’ products or practices.

The Monterey Bay Area Green Business Program has a green nail salon certification program but thus far no nail salon is certified. Under this program, a green certified nail salon must offer environmentally-friendly nail polish alternatives, prohibit the use and sale of acrylic nails, and obtain safety ratings for their products from the Skin Deep Database (a database of cosmetic brands, products, and ingredients, and their toxicity).42 In addition, the program requires compliance with a list of standards within the areas of pollution prevention, energy conservation, solid waste reduction, water conservation, and employee awareness. The nail salon must be in compliance with health and environmental regulatory requirements. Salons do not have to adhere to each and every standard; the standards in some sections are mandatory, in other sections some choice and discretion is permitted. To most effectively encourage the development of green nail salons regardless of the county or city in which they are located, a green nail salon program should be implemented on a statewide basis.

Policy Recommendations:

  • Support Department of Toxic Substances

Control (DTSC), California Environmental


Protection Agency (Cal-EPA) and other agencies in developing a statewide green business standard and program for the nail salon industry, including providing technical support for prospective green salon owners and conducting a media campaign to bring consumer attention to participating salons.

  • Explore and develop a “Safe Salon Compact” certification program in collaboration with the Safe Cosmetics Campaign and key regulatory agencies. The goal will be to encourage nail salon owners to use safer nail products as a stepping stone to going completely green.

Remove harmful chemicals from nail salon products now, in support of the Green Chemistry Initiative.

Although there is evidence supporting the harmfulness of many chemicals in nail salon products and processes, chemical and product manufacturers are slow to conduct research to find and utilize safer alternatives. Some product manufacturers are transitioning away from some of the most harmful chemicals; for example, nail products without DBP, formaldehyde, and toluene are available.43 However, some of those companies which are developing alternative products are at a competitive disadvantage because their products tend to be more expensive.

To level the competitive playing field as well as fund and encourage the development of safer products, the state should explore imposing a fee that penalizes manufacturers for using the worst


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