Helping the Planet…One Salon at a Time

As a nod to Earth Day, I decided to check out a cool new eco-chic nail salon in Los Angeles: Recess. Only five weeks old, the environmentally-friendly salon boasts that it’s in the process of LEED certification, a distinguished third-party “green” certification from the United States Green Building Council.
I think what impressed me the most as I first walked in was that the salon didn’t look like it had gone out of its way to be environmentally-friendly — it actually looked like it had gone out of its way to be really cute. I found out later that the easy look of the salon belied the extensive thought process that had gone into the architecture and design. With the help of Christopher Grubb at Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Arch-Interiors Design Group Inc. and a USGBC consultant, owner Nidhi Lal stuck to her vision for a truly environmentally friendly salon, even in the face of some obstacles. Lal says, “It would have been so easy to gut this place to start, and it would have been so cost-effective. But I was going for LEED and wasn’t going to compromise that.”
It turns out that the unique beaded chandeliers are energy efficient. (“It was hard to get lighting that looked good and was energy efficient,” Lal notes.) The comfy pedicure chair with the throw pillows that I’d lounged in was made from recycled and sustainable materials. There are no VOC resins in the floor and no VOCs in the paint. Lal is even in the process of designing her own unique ventilation system to keep the air clean in this natural nails-only salon. She notes that this is more for her employees and herself (as a new owner, she’s in there most of the time) than for clients, because it’s employees who are most exposed to any nail product fumes.
Lal also worked with a chemist to design her own line of organic, paraben- and formaldehyde-free soaks, scrubs, lotions, and essential oil blends in a variety of scents (I picked “Sweet Pink Lemonade,” but was also tempted by Key Lime and Indian Spice.). These products are also available for sale in the retail area. Manicures and pedicures are generally finished off with either Zoya or Sparitual polish, known for being toluene-, formaldehyde-, and DBP-free.
I asked Lal if it was hard for her to justify the extra expenses associated with being a green, and potentially LEED-certified, salon. “I’ll be saving a lot of money long-term on energy usage, plus healthwise, there are so many benefits. I don’t think I can even weigh the two against each other.”
Is there a salon in your area that goes out of its way to be green? What little things do you do in your salon to be more environmentally-friendly? Leave us a note in Feedback.
Photos: (top) My first stop was the oval-shaped customization bar, where I picked my organic and paraben-free soak and lotion.
(bottom) Nail tech Marina Ruiz gives me a Recess Pedicure.

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