Careful: Your Saturday Morning Mani/Pedi Isn’t All Peaches N’ Cream


Attention all New Yorker babes!!! Have you ever felt that strange tinge of guilt when your sweet, but surprisingly strong-handed pedicurist is giving you the coveted 5 minute foot massage and you haven’t shaven in 22 days (we all do it, nbd right)? Well it turns out that the city of New York has a long history of salon worker exploitation, and maybe we should feel a little remorse for these women. According to an article ”The Price of Nice Nails,” The New York Times waited for a month to hear back from the New York State Labor Department about an inquiry that addressed the State Department’s enforcement record within the industry. The Times readily ensued in a 13 month investigation of New York nail salons, as there was a dire need for this underground abusive society to be brought to light. Prying into this secretive, deceptive and buttoned up industry unveiled an astonishing amount of worker violations, and the State Department’s investigation found 116 wage violations in the 29 nail salons that were examined. What the heck right?!

Aside from the shocking toxicity of the most popular nail polish brands used in nail salons across America, the two most concerning violations that the workers suffer from are the wage disparities between classes of the nail salon racial hierarchy and the abuse that comes in various forms. About 70-80 percent of Manhattan nail salons are owned by Koreans. This accounts for most of the race inequality that takes place in nail salons across Manhattan and in surrounding areas. Basically, all other races (Chinese, Hispanic and non-asian workers) are (in that order) not nearly as desired as their Korean counterparts. One non-Korean woman reported being forced to eat her lunch standing up in the back kitchen with the other non-Korean workers, while the Korean women were allowed to chat away at their desks while eating their lunches.

Buttttt never fear!! There is good news ladies. Activists, the government, and various other agencies are taking direct action against these disheartening violations, and making it a point to expel all of the discouraging social norms within this industry. Miriam Yeung, who is the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s forum, made an important point in the midst of this exploitation. Yeung stressed the importance of including and giving voice to the workers that have been affected negatively by this industry in the conversation of how, why, and what needs to be fixed regarding workers’ rights. Here are a few tips for how you can avoid contributing to anymore worker abuse in nail salons:

  1. Avoid the toxic trio in your nail polishes! #ecofriendly #letsdothis.
  2. Research the where most ethically responsible nail salons are near you.
  3. Be kind to your manicurist or pedicurist, they’re just trying to make a living like the rest of us gals.
  4. As hard as it may be try to avoid salons that offer crazy low priced mani/pedi “specials,” these salons often pay their workers wayyyy below min wage.
  5. Tip your gal well!!! #$$$


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