A half-priced blindfolded organic manicure, complete with accompanying mojito, is an offer that’s just too intriguing to pass up. So when a good friend of mine called and asked if I wanted in on a deal being offered to Daily Candy subscribers, I jumped at the chance. A few weeks later we found ourselves at Tierra Mia, the self-proclaimed first organic nail spa in the country. Tierra Mia exclusively uses organic, water-based nail polishes, and the spa space is constructed from VOC-free recycled and sustainable materials. Why does any of this matter? Although many nail lacquers no longer contain formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalates (known as the “toxic trio”), there is evidence that the chemicals that remain in traditional nail polish pose health risks to both salon employees and customers.
With excellent reviews on Yelp, I was looking forward to what promised to be a unique manicure experience.
Boy, was I disappointed. I don’t know if the salon was overwhelmed with the Daily Candy response, or just poorly managed, but our appointment was double booked and we were asked to wait 45 minutes. Strike one.
When our manicurists were ready, we sat at lovely tables, offered mojitos, and had black cushy blindfolds placed over our eyes. The sensory deprivation at first felt strange, but we quickly relaxed and settled into the experience. Without my vision, my nose began to notice the lack of the chemical smell typical of nail salons. Every so often our drinks were placed in our hands for sips between filing and soakings. We were then asked for guidelines on the color we wanted. That was part of the deal – not only do you give up your sight for the treatment, you give up exact color selection. My guidelines seemed fairly straightforward to me: I have a law firm job interview in 2 days, so I need something very conservative and serious. Nothing fun. In fact, the opposite of fun. When my blindfold was removed, it took a moment for my eyes to adjust. Then I saw my nails. Pink. Barbie pink. And sparkling. I’m not entirely sure how pink and glitter qualify as conservative and serious, but beware that in the world of Tierra Mia, it does. Strike two.
The woman who did my nails offered to do a re-polish, but unfortunately due to the wait before our treatment, I didn’t have time to take her up on the offer. My friend’s polish color worked out better for her, a beautiful dark navy color that was not dissimilar from the color she typically wears.
After our manicures, we were told to avoid any warm water on our hands until the next morning since although the water-based polish was dry, it wasn’t yet set. I would have appreciated a heads-up on this one, since the restriction prevents showering, doing dishes or washing your hands for the rest of your day. Luckily showering wasn’t an issue, and Keith handled any dishwashing that needed to be done.
Wear and Tear
Despite the poor color choice, I decided to keep the polish on (and hope no one noticed at the interview) and test drive the wear and tear. Within two days I had chipping at the tips of my nails and flakes falling off at the sides. By day three I gave up, bought non-acetone nail polish remover (required to get the stuff off) and began the process of soaking my nails and scraping them down with an orange stick provided complimentary by Tierra Mia. It took about twenty minutes to get all of the polish off, and the whole process left my nails weak, peeling and cracking. It’s been two weeks and my scratched up nails are still looking pretty ragged. Strike three.
I am all for finding green alternatives to products that may be harmful. And I am typically pretty laid back and able to overlook things like less than stellar service or poor color selection. But with the list of mishaps piling up, and the poor quality of the manicure, I have to conclude that for me going organic isn’t worth the price, inconvenience or the resulting damage to my nails. To avoid the chemicals found in traditional nail lacquer, I think I’d rather skip it altogether and opt for a good filing and buffing instead. Green is great, but if the product doesn’t perform, it’s just not something I’m willing to use.