I read an article in the New York Times about the exploitation of migrant workers in nail salons last week. I shared the article on Facebook immediately because I wanted more people to know about it. I was pretty shocked and horrified to hear about something I had been such an active participant in. I’ve been getting my nails done pretty regularly ever since I can remember. I’ve always over-tipped, as I felt like the manicurists were probably not receiving an excellent wage, but I had no idea of the extent of the problem.
The article explains how many workers are not paid a daily rate and rely solely on tips. Some of them don’t even get to keep those tips and are living in such terrible living conditions. Others explain how lucky they are to make $30 a day. I was blown away when I read this.
Now that I have a full understanding of what going on, I can’t go back to those salons. It wouldn’t be right. I’m not really the “activist” type person but I feel like this is something I will gladly take a stand about.
If you’re also boycotting salons you’re probably wondering – where can I get my nails done? The Times posted their own solutions to the problem – but here are my four ideas:
City Mani – This website allows you to order a manicure service to your home if you live in New York City. Just select how many people will be getting a manicure and they’ll give you available dates and times for the week. They even work up until 11pm. This is great if you want to have friends over and all get your nails done together. A basic manicure costs about $35, unfortunately CityMani doesn’t have gel or Shellac available and only does manicures, no pedicures.
Find a Fair Trade Salon – It’s not always easy to tell if a salon is paying it’s workers a decent wage. RGB cosmetics have stepped up to help people find fair trade nail salons in their area. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org with your zip code to get more information.
Priv – I’ve written a bit about Priv’s services before. Priv brings a variety of beauty and wellness services right to your door. So if you’re looking to get a haircut and your nails done, this could be a pretty good option. A gel manicure costs about $50 which includes tax and tip.
Go to a professional spa/hair place – Most upscale salons and spas in New York also offer manicures. This option is a little bit more expensive, but at least you know that workers will be getting a fair wage as a result. I did a quick scan of the salons in my neighborhood and a mani/pedi will run you about $70. This is a good “treat yourself” option.
Do it yourself! – Doing your own nails is a little bit tricky, however it is by far the cheapest option. I’ve been doing this for years in between salon manicures and I’ve gotten quite good at it. For a little guidance — check out some Youtube tutorials – like this one by Michelle Phan to help you get started.
You could also go back to your high school days and invite a friend over, paint each others nails and catch up.
I’m interested to hear what you think about this nail salon expose in the Times. Leave a comment to let me know.