After we reprinted an article that Momo Chang wrote for Hyphen about nontoxic nail salons in our January-February 2010 issue, a reader responded: “I found myself looking for a listing of green salons and spas, or at least a resource as to how to find them. Is there a resource for this information that could be published as an addendum to this story?” Here is Momo Chang’s thoughtful response. -- The Editors
Unfortunately, there isn't a list of ecofriendly nail salons and spas in the country because there is no way to certify or standardize what makes a "green" salon at this point. A salon may call itself "organic," "green," or "ecofriendly," but customers would have to see for themselves what the salon is really doing. The salon mentioned in the article is one that health advocates have visited and have determined is ecofriendly and green.
A popular industry magazine, NAILS, has a website called The Conscious Salon that does provide a list; however, I don't know how they are checking the salons and what standards they are using, so I didn't include it in the story. A lot of businesses explain on their own websites what they are doing.
There are some groups trying to come up with a certification standard for green nail salons. It's currently in the works in California. In general, being "green" includes sustainability features (bamboo floors, recycling, etc.), nontoxic products (nail polishes without formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene for example), ventilation (at least two fans installed into the walls or ceiling), hygiene (wearing gloves, footspas cleaned in between customers or using simple buckets instead of the whirlpool footspa), and other factors including fair labor standards.
There is a nifty website that covers all kinds of personal care products and brands. It's a database where you can search for products or the types of products you're using (for example, if you type in "nail polish," a list of brands come up).
You can also read the original article published in Hyphen, which is a bit longer.