August 23 2014

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Meet The “Green Celebrity Nail Stylist”


Jenna Hipp has been in the business of beauty since she was a teen—first as a model, then as a makeup artist and photography agent, before finding her real calling: nails. Since then, the self-professed “green nail stylist” has accrued quite the celebrity following—Michelle Williams, Ginnifer Goodwin, Diane Kruger, Zoe Saldana, and Rachel McAdams are all clients. She’s also collaborated with one of our very favorite nail brands, RGB, on a capsule collection of “foundation shades” (read: picture-perfect nude hues). “I believe in embracing the entire condition of the skin and nails from the inside out, as well as sourcing organic topical products and at-home remedies,” Hipp told Here, the polish maven talks about how to green your nail routine, getting hip to “squoval” nails, and why the French pedicure needs to go the way of the Walkman.

Have you always been a “green” nail stylist, or did something specific inspire you to make the switch?

The switch for me came with the symptoms—nosebleeds, rashes, headaches, dizziness, forgetfulness—the realization that I could no longer expose my body to everyday beauty products, cleaning supplies, and perfumes, let alone my nail supplies. It forced me to take control of my health and career for myself and my clients. I had to create a new title that described my newfound green and eco ambitions for the nail industry, and that’s how “green celebrity nail stylist” came about.

What should manicure enthusiasts look out for when picking non-toxic polish formulas?

When a product says “3″ or “4-Free”, they are referring to the carcinogenic chemicals that have been removed from the formula. This usually means formaldehyde, DBP, toluene, and formaldehyde resin. DBP (the chemical dibutyl phthalate) acts as a binder to improve the lasting power of nail lacquer, but it’s also been linked to cancer in lab animals. Even though toluene helps suspend the color and creates a smooth texture, it also affects the central nervous system and can cause headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.

Aside from going “3-Free,” do you have any other suggestions for how the rest of us can clean up our act?

Revamp your at-home nail care kit and educate yourself! Unfortunately, chemicals are still prevalent in polishes because the consumer demand to remove them just isn’t there, and laws do not require cosmetics companies to prove that products are safe before putting them on the market. Now that formaldehyde (used as a hardener in polish) is under so much scrutiny, companies have taken it out, but replaced it with formaldehyde resin, which they are not legally required to reveal. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep has been key in raising awareness about these harmful chemicals and forcing companies to remove them. You can find out how toxic your products are by typing them into the EW database.

What are your favorite brands to stock your kit with?

My favorite brand of nail polish is RGB Cosmetics. They have gone to great lengths to make sure they are 5-Free (including formaldehyde resin and camphor) and safe for pregnant women and children. I also love Spa Ritual’s Fluent Gentle Conditioning Lacquer Remover, sugar and salt scrubs by Suki, Nontoxique—the first line of completely green products for the professional manicurist—and also the polish brands Scotch Naturals, Piggy Paint, Priti, and By Nubar.

What about shape? How are you filing your clients’ tips these days?

Your nail shape can do wonders for the illusion of thinner and longer nails. A little rounding to sharp corners, avoiding the square, creates a shape called “squoval”—which is a little square, a little oval and looks great on most people. A blunt, square nail shortens your nail and your fingers. If you’re trend-focused, the almond shape is really in right now. For a pedicure, whatever you do, keep toenails short! Long toenails or toenails with a French pedicure are just not OK!

Any tips for how to remedy peeling nails, naturally?

A big cause of peeling nails is actually your nail file or emery board! Regular nail files are too coarse and rip into the free edge of the nail—especially if filed in a back and forth motion. My best advice is to opt for a crystal glass file. Not only is it a much more luxurious and smooth experience, crystal glass files are more effective in creating and maintaining healthy nails. Plus, they are also green and eco-friendly! Simply scrub with your nail brush to clean and it will last a lifetime! You can also use the crystal glass file on rough cuticles and dry areas to smooth. But beware—not all glass files are the same! Watch out for one-sided files and dye that will come off all over your fingers. I like the one by Nailing Hollywood.

Do you have any good alternatives to toxic polish removers—especially when removing dark polishes that can stain the nail bed?

Try an at-home remedy. Mix together baking soda with lemon juice and scrub nails with a nail brush or toothbrush. Dip tips in hydrogen peroxide diluted with water. Wash hands and moisturize damp hands with jojoba oil. Then dab dry with a cotton towel.

Photo: Courtesy of Jenna Hipp

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