Business Management

What It Means to Be Green in 2014

Ready to do your part to help the environment? Greening your salon is easier than you think. Our comprehensive guide takes you beyond “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” with innovative ideas to help you offset your carbon footprint.  

<p><strong>Revive Nails &amp; Co., Chicago.</strong> The majority of Revive&rsquo;s decor comes from discarded wood pallets taken from construction waste sites and given new life. They use cloth towels to eliminate paper waste, and glass and ceramic cups to serve tea, water, or wine instead of wasting plastic cups or water bottles. Their pedicure flip-flops are washed and reused. They recycle half-empty nail polish bottles, and for the year 2014, they have reached out to local nail salons to collect empty or unused nail polish bottles, which in turn will be donated to a local artist to turn into artwork.</p>

With Earth Day nearly upon us (April 22) you’ve probably at least considered how your salon business is affecting the environment. You know that reducing your carbon footprint is good for the planet and good for you personally, but you may have more immediate concerns, like protecting your bottom line. In reality, going green can actually boost revenue. It’s also a feature your salon can promote in order to develop loyal customers who appreciate your green efforts. And with so many options and resources available, you’re sure to discover at least a few easy, affordable — even profitable — changes you can make now. So get ready to take your green initiatives off the back burner and see a big difference by next Earth Day. Let’s start by saving money with energy costs.


A simple way to start seeing a lower electricity bill fast is to replace all of your salon’s conventional light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). CFLs last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, provide the same amount of light, use 75% less energy, and generate less heat. Remember to turn off break room and bathroom lights when not in use. Solar powered options are a great choice for outdoor lighting, as are motion-detector lights. Motion-detector lights will illuminate only when employees or clients are walking to and from the salon, thus saving energy.

Upgrading HVAC (heating-ventilation-air conditioning) systems can also save money in the long run. Consider installing an Energy Star-qualified programmable thermostat. These thermostats make it easy to automatically adjust temperature settings and save energy when your salon is closed. The latest trend in heating and cooling is the “smart thermostat.”

According to, smart thermostats transmit accurate, up-to-date utility data about live energy use via your smartphone. Have the salon’s HVAC system checked for efficiency once a year and clean or change its filters every month during peak cooling or heating season. Another cooling option is to use a ceiling fan in the summer and turn down your salon’s thermostat. Each degree of higher temperature will save about 3% on cooling costs, but be sure to turn the fan off when your salon is closed.

Make sure your salon is adequately ventilated. Indoor air can be polluted by chemicals used in nail care products and cause health problems when inhaled. “Indoor air quality is a big concern in nail salons,” says Tamara Jercha, president and founder of National Association of Eco-Friendly Salons & Spas (NAEFSS). “Exploring HVAC operations and air cleaning alternatives will not only create a safe working environment, it will also cut down on the spread of everyday viruses that impact employee attendance.” 

Remembering to shut down and even unplug computers and other equipment at the end of the day will save a lot of energy too. And the quality of your appliances counts as well. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star-qualified products are the way to go the next time you buy an appliance for the salon, such as a television, refrigerator, computer, or printer. They cost more, but over time your energy and water savings will make up for the initial investment, as these appliances use 10%-50% less energy and water than standard models.

If you’re really committed to saving energy and don’t mind paying a slightly higher electricity rate, you may be able to use electricity from renewable energy sources such as the wind and the sun. Call your salon’s electricity provider to learn about your options.


As long as you’re following your state board’s guidelines for cleaning implements and other regulated items, you can switch to non-toxic cleaning products such as Simple Green. Look for paper towels that contain recycled or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified fiber. Use recycled paper for salon menus and fliers, and post your menu on your website, making sure it’s available as an e-mailable PDF. Replace bottled water with filtered water, and offer your clients beverages in dishwasher-friendly glass or disposable plastic cups. If your salon serves coffee or juices, choose Rainforest Alliance Certified-beverages. These come from farms that have met rigorous standards for the conservation of wildlife and the welfare of local communities.

Nail products themselves can be problematic. Conventional nail polish and nail care products still contain a host of chemicals — such as acetone, toluene, ethyl acetate, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and formaldehyde — that are known environmental pollutants and can be a health hazard when inhaled or absorbed through the skin. But many nail care products are now labeled as water- or plant-based or low-VOC, and are safer for the environment and human health. Sheila Garrison and Kristin Heaton-Peabody, co-founders of  Hiatus Spa + Retreat, with locations in Dallas, Austin, and Plano, Texas, utilize a holistic approach and are aware of the impact that products have on our bodies and on the earth.

“Our most requested nail treatment, the Mani-Pedi Retreat, is an 80-minute service that incorporates SpaRitual, an eco-friendly vegan nail care line,” says Garrison. “This treatment features rituals that restore the health of our guest’s nails with certified organic ingredients. Additionally, we opted for Orly’s Eco-Gel alternative. The wear-ability of the Eco Gel is the same as other gel-polish, but is free of harsh chemicals and nourishes the guest’s hands with vitamins A, E, and B5.”

The textile products you purchase are also important — you can help make changes to the environment just by changing your clothes. It may come as a surprise that the fashion industry leaves a hefty carbon footprint, using more water than any other aside from agriculture. It also uses at least 8,000 different chemicals to convert raw materials to synthetic textiles. When purchasing salon uniforms and aprons, look for fabrics that come from natural, organic sources rather than synthetic ones. Some options to consider are organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, and even seaweed.

Monique Mathieu Uniforms uses 100% non-GMO organic cotton grown mostly in Texas to produce fashionable salon and spa wear. It’s then exported to Japan, where it is converted to fabric via environmentally responsible processes. The fabrics are free of contaminants such as nickel, lead, formaldehyde, amines, pesticides, and heavy metals. 

“People with allergies and chemical sensitivities benefit from organic clothing,” says owner Monique Mathieu. “Even if someone doesn’t have sensitive skin, organic cotton feels better than synthetic clothing. And uniforms made from it are naturally resistant to odors, mildew, and dust mites.”

Custom Uniform Company also produces a line of green garments and uniforms made from natural fabrics such as 100% organic cotton, converted soybean, bamboo, and hemp. Hemp especially is extremely durable; it is also naturally antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-static.


If you’re starting from the ground up, consider building a LEED-certified nail salon. The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC)’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (more commonly known as LEED) green building certification system is the foremost program for the design, construction, and operation of green buildings. If you’re interested in building a LEED-certified nail salon, you’ll need to hire the right help for your project — a LEED-accredited professional with solid experience. LEED certification is available both for new construction and for remodels, but it does involve a considerable commitment of time and money.

Even if you aren’t seeking LEED-certification, there are still eco-conscious materials and products you can use in your decor and remodel efforts. If you’re repainting or doing touch-ups, for example, use low-or zero-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints. Not only are they environmentally friendlier than conventional paints, they are also low-odor. Examples include Sherwin-Williams’ Harmony Interior Latex Low Odor Coatings and Benjamin Moore’s Pristine EcoSpec.

Celebrity television home improvement host Bob Vila has listed practical suggestions on his website regarding materials for healthy and sustainable building. Included are new materials for floors and countertops — such as Paperstone, Sqauk Mountain Stone, and Richelite — that mimic the look of other solid-surface countertops but are made from composite materials like post-consumer recycled paper or plastic resins. These formaldehyde-free materials don’t release harmful levels of VOCs into the atmosphere.


One of the easiest ways to green your salon is to set up a recycling program for old magazines, glass, plastic, cardboard, and other paper items. Contact the company that handles your trash pick-up and ask about recycling options. You may need to explore your recycling options for other salon items.

“Your salon can affirm its commitment to the earth by recycling items that are not recycled by your local municipality, like rubber gloves, foils, and empty make-up containers,” says Jercha. 

Kim Anton of Anton Designs in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Canada is a member of the Green Circle salons in Canada. They recycle all the salon’s leftover dyes, plastics, paper, and metals. They are limited on how many nail products they can recycle, but they are continuing to grow and may one day be able to handle all the chemicals salons discard. Anton says her salon adds an environmental fee to each service to cover the costs, and her clients gladly pay.


Finally, it’s important to educate employees and share your knowledge with other nail techs. A new guide is available from NAEFSS aimed at taking the mystery out of terms such as sustainability, eco-friendly, green, and eco-consciousness, specifically relating them back to individual business models. The NAEFSS Salon & Spa Sustainability Packet is also available on the website. It includes one to two hours of free phone consultation and specific details to create a plan for impactful changes.   



<p><strong>Posh! Nail Company, Dublin, Ohio</strong>: The first eco-friendly nail salon in Ohio, Posh! offers non-toxic, organic products and high-end services in an environmentally conscious atmosphere. Owners Servet Nguyen and Nick Do had the salon furniture manufactured from recycled plywood; each nail desk is self-ventilated and has built-in LED lights. Only energy-&shy;efficient light bulbs illuminate the interior, and technicians use washable hand towels and recyclable or glass cups rather than &shy;paper. Nail polish is three-free, and the salon makes its own organic custom blend of &shy;sugar scrubs. Posh! also has a private, &shy;ventilated room for enhancement services to ensure the main area of the salon remains odor free.</p>

<p><strong>Zenka LUXE Nail Salon, Manhattan Beach, Calif.</strong> This salon offers world class salon and spa services while respecting the environment. The entire salon is green with LEED certification pending. The products are organic and all-natural, with some made in-house. All of the beauty products consist of essential oils, natural moisturizers and scrubs, and all natural aromatherapy soaks. They also use cleaning products that are all formaldehyde-free, paraben-free, and free-trade.</p>

<p><strong>Crave Nail Spa, Tampa, Fla.</strong> This salon was created using eco-friendly design materials, including bamboo flooring, low-VOC paint, and energy-efficient lighting. Crave features toxin-free services and products such as water-soluble Piggy Paints for children, and a variety of polish brands for adults that are free of parabens, toluene, formaldehyde, and DBP. Owner Jozette Hite also creates sugar scrubs from scratch and incorporates a variety of natural, essential oils into Crave&rsquo;s private-label, paraben-free creams and whipped lotions.</p>


Check out the following links to learn more about reducing your salon’s carbon footprint:

Green Salon-Specific Organizations:

> The National Association of Eco-Friendly Salons & Spas (NAEFSS):

> The FAB PRO Green Conscious Salon Certification Program:

> Green Circle Salons in Canada:

> Green Spa Network:


Green Building:

> The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED):

> Bob Vila:


Recycling and General Sustainability:

> Earth911:

> UGA GreenWay:

> Personal Care & Beauty Brigade at TerraCycle:


Green Products:

> Energy Star:

> Responsible Purchasing Network:

> Greenhome:

> Rainforest Alliance Certified Marketplace:


Is your salon green? E-mail your pictures and stories to [email protected] for a chance to make NAILS’ Earth Day Honor Roll next year.


You Might Also Like:

Go Green Light [17 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Salon’s Carbon Footprint]

Green Salon: Features of an Environmentally Friendly Nail Salon

Facebook Comments ()

Leave a Comment


Comments (0)


Raynaud’s Syndrome is a condition characterized by blood vessels in the hands and feet that spasm and temporarily cut off blood flow to the...
Learn More

Featured Products & Promotions   |   Advertisement

Market Research

Market Research How big is the U.S. nail business? $7.3 billion. What's the average service price for a manicure? Dig into our decades' deep research archives.

Industry Statistics for

View All


FREE Subscription

VietSalon is a Vietnamese-language magazine and the sister publication to NAILS. Click the link below to sign up for a FREE one-year subscription.

Get a free preview issue and a Free Gift
Subscribe Today!

Please sign in or register to .    Close
Subscribe Today
Subscribe Today