These 10 ways to green your nail routine will benefit you, and the planet!
By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
You know what’s strange? After we paint something in our house, we know we have to dispose of whatever leftover product we have in a special way. In Europe, for example, we’re meant to call our local council to throw out varnishes, paints and paint removers in a way that doesn’t harm the planet. After all, these are hazardous chemicals, right?
But what we colour our walls with isn’t all that different to what we use on our nails – especially if your varnish is a typical drugstore brand that still uses all the worst chemicals (think: Revlon, Rimmel, Sally Hansen, etc). The chemicals in those nail polishes can do some serious harm to our waterways and soil – not to mention your own health! So, how can you make your manicure more eco friendly?
Luckily, it’s not that hard! All you need is some great info, and a bit of will.
Here are ten easy ways to green your nail routine: in other words, to make your manicure more eco friendly.
10 Ways To Green Your Nail Routine
1. Always Choose an Eco-Friendly Polish
The most obvious step to green your nail routine is to avoid polishes with nasty chemicals. On Eluxe, we’ve got you covered for all seasons and colours, with Summer Shades, Varnishes For The Holidays, Vintage Hues and the best Red Non Toxic Red Polishes.
2. Ditch The (Non Organic) Glitter
If your inner child still craves sparkles and glitter, the environmental conscience of your adult self may be horrified to know what it does to the planet. Most glitter in general is just plastic micro particles, which badly pollute marine environments and pose a danger to all aquatic life that ingests it. In fact, the situation with glitter is so bad, some scientists to call for it to be banned.
You may think it’s not so bad to use glitter in nail polish, but you’d be wrong: those tiny particles are just as damaging in varnish as they are in other forms of makeup, and the worst thing is that we don’t know of any nail brands that use glitter that’s eco friendly.
But the good news is that you can make your own vanishes sparkly by using biodegradable glitter! Yay! EcoStardus,t for example, uses a compostable film made from sustainably farmed eucalyptus trees, and donates 10% of its profits to environmental charities, too.
All you need to do is either mix a bit of glitter into your varnish bottle, shake it up and apply, or sprinkle some on your fingertips right after using the polish, then apply a top coat to keep it put!
2. Go To An Ethical Salon
Who doesn’t love a bit of salon pampering? The thing is, they often buy polishes that are filled with the horrid chemicals mentioned above. Not only can those hurt your health, as you know, but they’re also killers for the staff who work in those salons day in and day out. In fact, so many salon workers are exploited and their health is so badly abused, they launched a campaign called Let’s Nail It to protect their health and human rights!
Luckily, more salons are paying attention to ethical work conditions and ecological products. A few that we love are Le Fix in London, Sweet Lily Natural Spa in New York, Can Can Parleur Organic Hand & Foot Spa in Los Angeles, Kure Bazaar in Paris and Dubai. But if you don’t live in any of those cities, when you do hit the salon, be sure to either ask in advance about which products they use, or just bring your own!
3. Choose an Eco-Friendly Nail Strengthener
If you want to take your nail routine into your own hands, the first step is to make sure your nails are strong. If that isn’t the case, you probably need an eco-friendly nail strengthener. This will help develop weak, flimsy nails that are lacking in protein and keratin. But make sure you stay away from anything containing formaldehyde – its many detrimental effects include infertility, breathing issues and even cancer.
An excellent natural brand that helps avoid brittle nails is Provida Organics. Its Living Nails Organic Nail Hardener protects your fingertips from cracks and can also be used as a base coat.
4. Choose Bio Sculpture Over Gels
Gel manis have become super popular due to their durability – but as anyone who has ever had one knows, that feature can also be their downfall, too. The stuff is nearly impossible to get off, and doing so damages many people’s nails.
The good news is that Bio Sculpture is different from gels and hybrid gel polishes – mainly because it won’t cause any damage to your natural nails. In case you’re not familiar with it, Bio Sculpture is applied directly over the natural nail, much like a polish, and mimics the natural movements and flexibility of your nails, keeping them well protected with a non-chip colour finish. Bio Sculpture as it is set under a Safety Tested UV lamp, and is environmentally friendly and cruelty-free.
Another main difference between shellac or normal gel polishes and Bio Sculpture is that the latter is infused with loads of vitamins to promote healthy nails and growth. It lasts for around 3 weeks, and is totally smudge and chip-resistant. It only needs removing when you’ve had enough of the visible nail regrowth or fancy a shade change.
Not sure where to get this kind of mani? Click here to find a salon near you! Alternatively, Evo provides products and salons that apply this technique. You can also attend one of their courses to learn about this awesome way of doing your nails!
6. Choose Recycled Plastic Press Ons
If besides glitter, you also enjoy the whimsical patterns that you can obtain with press ons, be aware that also these are hazardous for the environment, as well as your nails. Chemicals in the products used to apply artificial nails can irritate the skin around your nail bed and elsewhere, and let’s not forget that when you’re done with press-ons, they’re just other bits of plastic pollution.
Luckily, there are eco-friendly manicure kits that allow you to have fun with press ons that are more eco-friendly. For instance, Re:Nails (seen below and in the main image) uses cutting-edge recycled plastic technology to make their reusable and recyclable nails, and even use 100% recycled paper packaging to house them in.
You can wear these for days or weeks, reusing, reshaping, repainting and of course, recycling them at your will!
7. Use A Non Toxic Polish Remover
It would be contradictory to use eco friendly nail varnishes and then use chemical-laden nail polish removers, right? There are some occasions when homemade natural formulas may have worked — like concoctions made out of white vinegar and lemon. But they don’t always succeed in removing all the polish, and it takes forever to remove even just a bit of it. Luckily, there are some great brands that offer oil-based formulas which manage to dissolve stubborn polish without the intoxicating petrol-station fumes.
Try the removers by Priti NYC or Benecos. We love both, since they’re vegan-friendly, acetone-free & BDIH certified.
8. Ditch Single Use Pads
As any green beauty-ista knows, single use cotton pads are a no-no! Even if they’re made of organic cotton, they take up loads of resources to make, and plug up landfill and waterways after they’re used one single time and chucked away forever.
Instead, use reusable bamboo pads to remove your nail varnish, like these ones by Tabitha Eve. They are ideal for a one-time investment, that will also remove your sense of guilt regarding the contents of your bin. Their naturally antibacterial and highly absorbent quilted organic bamboo fabric makes your washing routine easy, and helps avoid generating unnecessary waste.
9. Find A Place To Recycle Unwanted Varnish
Humans are moody by nature, they crave something and get easily bored with it. This has definitely enhanced the phenomenon of consumerism. So what happens when you grow tired of a specific nail polish that is unfinished? It gets tossed out, in all likelihood. But if you want to be a more conscious beauty consumer, why not choose an organisation or charity to donate it to?
Most women’s or homeless shelters will be more than happy to take the stuff off your hands, but if you live in the UK you have the chance of turning this clutter into something good with Beauty Banks, a grassroots movement that fights hygiene poverty and supports those living in their communities. Apart from unused cosmetics including nail polish, you can donate razors, tampons, shampoos, you name it! You can also try Toiletries Amnesty, another great NGO that pretty much does the same thing.
10. Re-Purpose Your Polish
Why not get creative with your unused nail polish? There are plenty of cool ways to repurpose it, from using it to decorate jars, paint mugs, or even give glasses a marbled makeover – just follow the instructions in the video below. If you’re bored with your current colours, why not try combining them to make a new one?