Unless someone is getting married, you probably won’t see me with nail polish on. It’s not really because nail polish contains toxic chemicals, though it does, or that it’s near impossible to find natural brands that either 1) work the way we’ve become accustomed to, or 2) aren’t still filled with suspect chemicals despite clean claims.
It’s mostly because I rather get a massage than a mani, when it comes to pampering, and I’m just a bit of a wildling (Game of Thrones, anyone?) with regards to maintenance. Whether I’m using the so-called naturals, or mainstream three-frees (like OPI and others) my nails usually chip within a day of getting painted, and I wait way too long to take it off. That’s partially because remover makes me want to die, but also because I always seem to have something more pressing to do.
The other reason I rarely polish is that, in my experience, it destroys and weakens my nails and—because I’ve always been self-conscious that my hands are a little bit manish—I love keeping my nails just on the longer side of good taste. Paint pour moi equals breakage, so I go long rather than colorful, and this works for me because it saves time, money, and the (literal) headache that comes when I sit in a nail salon. The clean one I sometimes frequented sadly went out of business, because like many things green or pretending to be, prices were unreasonably marked up.
The last time we talked polish, many of you asked us to further comment on the big debate: Are any of them clean, or just greenwashed and overpriced? There’s a diligently researched piece on Fig+Sage about this that’s totally worth a read, but the way I see it, debate is a misnomer. There’s not a whole lot to argue because it comes down to choice, and most of us clean gals fall into one of three categories.
1. You know that no polish is totally clean, but continue to get your nails done because it makes you happy and you’ve found a three-free, or better, brand you love. It’s a risk you’re willing to take here and there for the feeling of joy/relaxation/self love/ritual/insert your own, that it gives you. We’ve stated in the past, and continue to believe that as long as a choice is informed, it’s yours (and ours) to make! Whether it’s a hamburger, a cocktail, highlights, or regular mani-pedis.
2. You used to love it, but you can’t abide putting mystery chemicals on your body so you’ve learned how to use the water-based naturals like Scotch (again, not totally “natural” but as Fig+Sage points out reluctantly, better). G-bless! You’re also one of those people who whips up DIY recipes, and we love you. We know some women like you, and we admire them (Rebecca Bailey, I’m looking at you.)
3. You don’t love nail polish enough for either the risk, effort, or cost, so you sport bare nails and do your best to keep them looking clean, maybe buffed, possibly long. This, clearly, is my camp.
Will we review cleaner polishes on occasion? Probably. Does that mean we think that they’re perfect? No. Do we think that some are overpriced and greenwashed? For sure. But we’ll always present the facts available to us.
Ultimately, if you’re from camp polish, we want you to choose from cleaner versions and continue to push the market that way. The fact that some of the biggest brands have gone three-free isn’t nothing. And this happens to be a category—like hair dye—that just does not have a perfect option right now, and maybe never will.
So, which are you: polish never, on special occasions, weekly? Is your choice informed by cost, chems, something else?
UPDATE: Blah! Sorry guys, I forgot to mention that an unfortunate study revealed that some supposed three-free brands are, in fact, not. Siobhan covered it back in April, and lists the guilty parties in this post. Just to further confused matters.
I’ve been on a big manicure kick lately and now I have a question…
Can someone please explain to me why, for the love of God, a basic manicure requires about four scrubs with a super-harsh nail polish remover? Question not rhetorical.
Seriously, this stuff is terrible for your nails and is super toxic in a not-really-up-for-debate kind of way. Other aspects of the salon experience are far from natural as well—including that three-free polish—but I suck it up for the most part because manicures are fun, they make me feel put together and I can’t be bothered at this moment in time to perfect my shakey left-hand-on-right application technique.
So I bring my own polish or I cave and use OPI, I don’t let anyone cut my cuticles, and I make sure to take off my polish before I got to the salon.
With what, you ask? Scotch Naturals’ nail polish remover. It’s touted as a remover for water-based polish but I’ve used this stuff for just about every brand under the sun—even Essie one time, shh!—and it works perfectly well. Some people apparently like to apply it and then let it sit for a few minutes then wipe it off. I used to do that with Suncoat’s remover, but I don’t find I need to do this with Scotch’s, nor do I think that technique works that well. Instead I spray a paper tower or cotton round with the stuff, then rub the polish off.
No, it doesn’t come off in one sweep like the industrial strength stuff at the nail spot, but it requires minimal effort for the result.
One bottle has lasted me the better part of a year, and it costs $11.99. I like it so much that I have a bottle at home and at the office.
What’s your favorite nail polish remover? And do you do anything to minimize your exposure to garbage at the nail salon?
This is another in our ongoing series—which will be around forever now, because you guys keep sending us your awesome routines. This one’s from a reader named Anna who lives in Brooklyn just like me (hi, Anna!). I love her mix of luxurious NMDL-approved clean products and DIY.
Anna seems to be one part no-fuss and one part kind of glam, which is basically our MO, too. Plus, she loves Joanne Woodward. What’s not to love? Let us know in the comments what you think of her routine!
Current weather: Flirting with Spring in Brooklyn. Cold, crisp and sunny today.
Hair: Shoulder-length, growing-out-phase, brown, thick, and wavy.
Skin: My forehead, chin, and nose are pretty awesome. My cheeks are where it gets dry, and also breaks out. I’m pretty fair-skinned, and get freckles in the summer, but tan pretty easily. Basically, if I could get this pesky cheek nonsense figured out, I’d be golden (adult onset acne, awesome).
In the shower…
I shower at night, always. If I go running in the morning, I’ll do an extra rinse-off afterward. Either way, I only use soap (Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint) on my feet, if at all. I only get my hair wet once a week, and either wash with John Masters Organics Bare shampoo and condition with Alaffia Coconut and Shea conditioner, or just do a manual scalp scrubbing with my fingers & follow up with a little ACV. I generally rinse my face with warm water instead of washing, though some days I’ll put some rosehip seed oil on my face and rub that in, then wipe it off with a hot washcloth. A few times a week I exfoliate my cheeks with Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub.
Outside the shower…
After spraying with Evan Healy’s Immortelle hydrosol and/or a quick wipe down with witch hazel, I immediately put on some argan oil (either Kahina or Acure), then follow up with Pai Chamomile & Rosehip moisturizer. I asked the folks over at Spirit Beauty Lounge what facial lotion they recommended for dry skin that is also acneic, and they recommended that. I’ve used it for a few months now and find that it hasn’t upset my skin at all, but moisturizes well. For extra dry days, I smear on some shea butter where it’s dry.
On my body, I use a homemade body oil (after I ran out of Evan Healy’s Sweet Blossom body oil, which I love so much. When I get in bed after putting it on, my boyfriend says, “you smell like pepper”—in a good way) with olive oil and vetiver & rose essential oils. The body oil is literally just olive oil (sometimes I’ll add in a little avocado oil) and several drops of rose essential oil and vetiver essential oil. The ratio of rose:vetiver is around 6:1 (vetiver is really strong). At night, several times a week I’ll buff some oil into my nails, wash ‘em off, and apply some Scotch Naturals nail polish.
I never use hair products. I find I don’t need them, plus I’m pretty easy-does-it about my hair. Most days, since I’m growing it out and that’s sorta painful, I’ll throw it up in a low side bun, or lately I’ve been doing a simple twisty updo thing with my hair that looks so elegant but is really, really easy.
I use RMS Lip-to-Cheek in Smile on my cheeks, and RMS “Un” Cover Up under my eyes and on any spots or pimples I have. I’ll either do a subtle winged eyeliner with Jane Iredale’s liquid eyeliner, or smear together some RMS blush and RMS Living Luminizer and put that on my eyelids—I love how this looks, and sometimes I don’t even put on mascara because I feel like it gives me that cool redheaded Scottish-gal-chic thing. Otherwise, I use Couleur Caramel mascara (the brush! The brush! It’s all about the brush. I used to be a Diorshow gal, obviously) on my top lashes.
No perfume, though sometimes I’ll dab some vetiver and rose oil on. I use homemade deodorant that has rose and vetiver in it, so sometimes that’s enough—I’m very sensitive to smells (especially post-nasty chemicals). The deodorant is equal parts arrowroot powder or corn starch and baking soda and enough shea butter to make the whole thing the texture of frosting. I add in vetiver and rose essential oils for my deodorant, and orange, lavender, and rosemary essential oils for my boyfriend’s mixture. I made the mistake this morning of putting it on after shaving; itchy all day.
Et voilà! On to coffee.
Image of Anna’s favorite star (“mainly because she married Paul Newman”) via
Because I get my nails done so rarely, when I do it feels like Christmas. This past weekend I had a special event up in Canada, and my first mani-pedi plan was my usual: some kind of deep red on my toes, and a buff on my nails. But as I started to look through the OPI selection (I know, I know, big-three free but a far cry from clean), I saw myself drawn to something fresher. So I found a fun bright pink for my toes.
But then out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the new spring colors. So pop! I reached for a kind of electric coral, and after some deliberation decided I would do my hands and toes in this bright wonder.
Colors are big, we know, and I don’t think that trend is or should be changing anytime soon. But suddenly my nails have me all excited to explore, and I’m wondering: Who has the best bright shades in the natural nail sphere?
So spill: What colors do you love, and who has them? (Of course, nobody will judge you if they’re not from the cleaner lines too.)
Right now I’m feeling partial to creamy mattes in pinks and corals, though I’m ready to try a few wild card colors as well. Some that I’m jazzed about include: Sheswai’s watermelon pink; the vibrant Highland Fling (a coral creme) from Scotch Naturals (maybe even the mint creme too); this orangey number from Priti along with this one too; and the whole Gossip line from Zoya (though they have SO many colors, I find it overwhelming to choose); this one also caught my eye.
Question number 2: What’s the last color you bought, and from who?
And if you’re finding it a wee early to talk about spring, I beg to differ! Next Sunday we are springing those clocks forward, and though I was freezing my buns off in Toronto this weekend, my bright nails warmed.
Wootwoot, we’re very excited to have Futurenatural back for a fabuloso Friday Deal. Hailing from Austin—any Austin readers in the house?—this online natural beauty site carries many of our favorite brands, from Scotch Naturals, to RMS, to Kahina and Lotus Wei. Today’s star is of course One Love Organics, whose Skin Savior balm has become a bit of a cult favorite for the green beauty set, and is currently Alexandra’s go-to face cleansing oil. But there’s more to the deal than that!
Here’s the dillio: Spend over $30 on any One Love Organics products and you’ll receive a travel size Skin Savior Balm, valued at $16. OR order over $60 and get their new (and wonderful) travel-sized Morning Glory Serum, valued at $29.
What’s more is that Futurenatural is also offering a site-wide 10% discount on ALL products. This applies with or without One Love purchases. For ALL PROMOS just use the NMDL code and the deals will be applied automatically.
The deal lasts until Sunday night at midnight!
Happy shopping everybody! And happy long weekend for the lucky ducks getting it!