Go Green at Your Nail Salon

For anyone setting up or running a beauty salon or specialist nail bar, there are a new set of customer demands in town. More people are going green than ever before, with a third of us preferring to buy from brands who do social and environmental good, according to Unilever. The demand for a change of government policy on single-use plastics and a clear growth in veganism are just two ways that people are choosing to live differently, and this affects the way they choose beauty products and services too.

As far away as the U.S., there’s been coverage on the harmful potential of chemicals used in nail salons. And even though the EU has banned certain substances, entrepreneurs can still do more to protect the environment, the health of their customers and staff and develop a great reputation in the process. Here are some practical ideas that a small business like yours can achieve in no time.

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Cut out the nasties

Although some harmful salon chemicals have been outlawed in the UK already — namely toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate — there are others that your nail salon can cut out to go green. Probably the most mentioned is methyl methacrylate (MMA), which is banned in the U.S. Used when making acrylic nails, it’s featured regularly in the news for its ability to cause health issues like skin irritation, neurological problems and nail deformities, to name a few.

Non-toxic polishes carry a “free” label. All should be “3-free”, which means they don’t contain the EU-banned substances mentioned (toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate). Go further and choose “5-free”, “7-free” and “9-free” products that use even less of the bad stuff.

As with nail products, you can also buy environmentally-friendly hand lotions and cleaning products to finish your non-toxic setup.

Head down to your recycling centre

You’re probably recycling empty packaging and paper already, but nail polish and other chemicals can harm the environment when they’re left out for collection. Once a fortnight, head down to your local recycling and household waste centre and get rid of them in the hazardous waste container instead. This should also mean you cut down on your recycling pickup fees.

Go vegan

Despite the nation’s love of animals, many companies still use animal products in their goods. Some of course still test those goods on animals too. Thankfully, more vegan-friendly nail polishes and beauty products are coming to market. These cruelty-free options are often better for humans too, containing fewer toxic chemicals.

PETA and The Independent have their own helpful lists of vegan nail polish for you to stock up on.

Vegan products tend to cost more, so your decision to use them will likely to affect your bottom line. If you increase your prices to absorb this, it’s important to let people know why. Make a big deal about your animal-friendly approach to help existing customers understand the cost change, and to attract vegan customers who are already familiar with your new, higher price point. Hair salons like Bleach London, for example, make a point of their vegan and cruelty-free approach by highlighting it clearly on their website and products.

Find alternatives

Albeit gradually, it’s getting easier to find and use materials that don’t harm the environment. Most plastic bottles and packaging in your salon can be recycled, but if you’re really serious about going green, choose products which themselves are made of recycled plastic or even biodegradable materials.

We often forget that other materials — not just plastics — do environmental damage. By using digital receipts, you can reduce paper waste and avoid the nasty chemicals used in the printer ink, both whilst cutting down on your stationary costs and recycling charges. In their digital form, receipts can also be used to open a private line of communication with your customers. This means you can get their feedback and send refunds or vouchers away from the prying eyes of social media, TripAdvisor or Google.

Every nail salon owner knows how important it is to make customers feel special. And you can double that by offering customers refreshments that use recycled/recyclable packaging and all-natural ingredients. Little touches like these can really put your nail salon on the map.

Install LED lighting


Keeping costs down is a strategic part of your day to day. And whilst LED light bulbs have a slightly higher purchase cost than CF and halogen, they’ll save you more money in the long run because of how little energy they use to get their high lumen. This tool from Philips calculates how much you can save per year by switching to LED.

Give back


You might have considered volunteering or donating to an environmental charity, but time and money are tight for businesses in their early days. Don’t give up though, because even the smallest gesture goes a long way. You could put up a pin board for green charities to advertise with, or even have their flyers and a money box on the counter. As well as giving these non-profit groups some amplification, your involvement will be atrractive for the growing number of customers who share these green beliefs.

Plus, if your relationships with those charities truly blossom, you could leverage some publicity through their marketing channels, and promote your business as a go-to for green nail care.

With beauty, environment and wellbeing becoming ever more connected, there’s never been a more lucrative time to go green at your nail salon — and to tell the world about it. Using the cheapest products, and walking the tried and tested route, is only effective to a point. It’s far more beneficial to understand the shifting attitudes of your target audience, and ride market demand. Start by looking to other beauty and nail salons for inspiration, then see where your ideas take you.

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