Nail salons are frightening. Caustic odors from polish, removers, and acrylic nails linger. In open door weather, noxious smells leak out to the street. I fear for the health of the women (and it is almost entirely women who work in these salons), especially those who wear ineffectual filter masks.
The FDA does not regulate cosmetics. Nor does any other agency. Cosmetics often include carcinogens, chemicals that may cause birth defects, and other dangerous chemicals. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database rates OPI, a popular brand at nail salons, a “moderate health hazard” and notes that the ingredients include neurotoxins, carcinogens, mutagens, cardiopulmonary irritants, and more.
Fortunately Philadelphia has Juju Spa & Organics. MsPhillyOrganic understands that many cosmetics have a long way to go before they can be considered green or organic. Fortunately, according to Juju’s web site, “Juju salon & organics uses only polishes and polish removers that do not contain Phthalates, Formaldehyde, Toulene, Acetone or color lakes (color bases that do not break down in nature).” Simply put, Juju does not smell like a nail salon, in no small part because they do not offer artificial nails. Their products are largely free from the carcinogens, neurotoxins, and other life- and planet-threatening chemicals.
It must be expensive, right? Most nail salons (the kind found on nearly every block in Center City) charge 25 or 30 dollars for a spa pedicure. Toppers Spa charges 68 dollars. Juju charges 42 dollars for a spa pedicure but the regular pedicure is only 32 dollars. The web site has coupons for 10 percent off, which brings the price back below 30 dollars for the regular pedicure.
“But I need my callous removal and scrub and foot washing,” you cry. MsPhillyOrganic recently visited Juju for a pedicure. Michelle didn’t just cut, file, and paint. Before I even sat down, Michelle offered a cup of tea. She also warmed up a mint-scented neck pillow. The pedicure began with a a warm soak in a bowl. Next Michelle applied an oil to treat the cuticles and continued to soak my feet. She followed that with an organic scrub. The pedicure took about 40 minutes.
Sadly I forgot my flipflops and damaged my polish with my sandals. A little more time drying would have prevented that mishap. Ten days after my appointment, the polish still looked great and my feet are still soft. Plus Juju sent a postcard with a handwritten note from Michelle and another 10% discount.
So from Msphillyorganic’s point of view, Juju’s regular pedicure is better than the regular pedicure at typical salons. Not even Topper’s offers tea and a heated neck pillow. No Center City $30 spa pedicure includes these free services (although one salon includes hot stones). Most of them use OPI or similar products. Worse, some of the women who do nails may be victims of human trafficking. Michelle was born in New Jersey and is a licensed and fully trained esthetician. With the reduced environmental impact of Juju’s organic and less toxic products, this was a winner for me and priced comparable to my regular service.
Juju Salon will be moving across the street in the next few months. When that happens, the manicure and pedicure services will move out of the spa area and into the old Salon space. Please contact Juju or check the web site for changes and updates.