GreenAroundTheGlobe - Part 5

Organic Beauty

by Amy on January 9, 2011 · 1 comment

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.

The 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.

Conclusion
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.

{ 1 comment }

Highlights from Japan and Australia

by Keith on December 20, 2010 · 8 comments

While it has been a few months in the making, I was able to finish up the highlights video for Japan and Australia. Enjoy, and you can find the four earlier trip summaries here.

{ 8 comments }

Patience is What I Found Traveling The World

by Keith on December 15, 2010 · 7 comments

A very common question that I get in interviews or even casual conversation about our trip is, “What was the most important thing you learned while traveling?”  This is a great question, much better than “What was your favorite place?”  But I get the sense that my answer is not always satisfying for people.  Maybe it’s a little too soft.  Patience, after all, is not as exciting as learning Mandarin, but it was the most important.  Let me illustrate why.

One of the first things you learn when you travel abroad is that the rest of the world, especially the developing part of it, is in much less of a hurry than we typically are in the Western world.  And getting upset about a difficult situation will never, ever help things.  While daily life can often seem hectic, as the streets of Vietnam do, people are less likely to be multi-tasking their way through their day.  More than once, Amy and I benefited from the kindness of strangers taking the time to assist us with directions, often walking us all the way to our destination.   After 16 years in a highly competitive school and professional work environment, this all seemed a little strange.  I was quite used to multitasking  all the time. iPhone in my right hand, Blackberry in the left hand, participating in a conference call,  all while riding a train to yet another meeting in New York City was the norm.  All of it seemed so important and critical, and if anything slowed me down or presented itself as a roadblock it was quickly dealt with and I moved on.  Well, it is not so easy to deal with an overheated broken down bus in the middle of Turkey when you have a plane to catch in 3 hours.

In fact, if you remain calm and ask for some advice on how to deal with the situation instead of quickly jumping to what you think is the solution (which for me in that instance was the inclination to get off the crippled bus and grab a taxi) you can learn that what you think you know isn’t really that useful at all.  Thanks to Amy helping me find my patience, we spoke with another passenger who told us that with the rush hour traffic a taxi was actually a very bad idea, but that jumping on the train at the next stop would get us to the airport in short order.  As it turns out, if we had not solicited that advice we would have surely been sitting in a taxi, stuck in traffic and spending another day in Istanbul instead of Cairo.

So while we have rather quickly readapted to our fast-paced, frenetic lives in the States, I do feel that I have retained a small part of the patience and ability to recognize what I can affect, and when my energy is better spent elsewhere.  This post reminds me vaguely of the 80/20 rule I learned while at Wharton.  That is 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort.  The key is to take the time to recognize what is the 20% of effort that is making the difference.   Slowing down, remaining present and questioning my initial reactions has allowed me to incorporate this idea more effectively into my life.  Just one of the many benefits of investing the time we took for this trip, because after all it was an investment in our most valuable assets, us.

{ 7 comments }