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Tip Top Shape

Tip Top Shape

Short nails and subtle nail art are in this season.

Next-level nail trends!

Short nails and subtle nail art are in this season.
Short nails and subtle nail art are in this season.
Lauren Dunne founded Varnish Lane with her mother in 2015. Rachel May Photography

Over the last five years or so, a slow but evident metamorphosis has been happening in nail salons around the country. A growing body of salons has made moves toward healthier, safer and more environmentally friendly practices. “We’ve seen so much change from when we first started to now,” says Lauren Dunne, who launched nail spa concept Varnish Lane with her mother, Carrie Dunne, in Washington, D.C., seven years ago and recently opened its first Atlanta location in Buckhead. “The more natural, conscious nail salons out there the better because the industry really needs an overhaul.” Here, Dunne shows us what to expect from nail shops in the future, as well as the latest fun mani- pedi trends to try on this season.

Waterless Service

At first thought, a waterless pedicure just doesn’t seem right. But besides the environmental benefit of saving around 15 gallons of water per service, Dunne points out how it’s healthier: “The main source of infection when getting your nails done is water. The majority of salons have whirlpool chairs and have moved to a plastic liner in the bowls, yet the germs live in the pipes of the whirlpool chairs. According to safety protocols, salons are supposed to run 10 minutes of cleaning solution through the tub after every client, which rarely happens.”

It turns out, water simply isn’t great for your mani-pedi, either. Dunne notes that when nails are soaked in water, they become waterlogged and expand, causing their shape to change. When they shrink back hours after the polish dries, it can cause chipping. “Instead of soaking, we start services with a 100% natural oil cleanser and towel wrap, followed by a callus softener [and exfoliators] that are highly effective in softening the skin that needs to be removed,” she says.

The nap-worthy recliners at Varnish Lane sans whirlpools.
The nap-worthy recliners at Varnish Lane sans whirlpools.

Less Toxic Nails

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a toxin-free nail polish. (A girl can dream!) However, less toxic lacquers, such as those that are optimally “seven-free” or “nine-free” and lack the most bad for- you ingredients typically found in nail colors, are becoming more widely available. Varnish Lane favors Zoya and Deborah Lippmann for regular polishes, Dazzle Dry for a long-wear polish and CND for gel nails. The salon does not offer acrylic or dip-style (powdered acrylic) services for health reasons.

Natural Products

Offering natural cleansers, lotions, scrubs and more is another way salons are updating their amenities. “Ours are locally made in D.C. in small batches,” Dunne says. Nail polish removers with a corn base instead of petroleum, a known carcinogen, are the future, too. “It’s tough to remove gel nails without acetone, but utilizing a manufacturer that makes remover from corn is a new way to make it a little bit safer for both you and the environment,” she says.

What’s In Style

“Nail art has become significantly more popular across all our shops,” says Dunne. “Women are viewing it as another accessory. Nothing too over the top—like simple, colored-tip French manicures.” Trending colors include pale yellow, baby blue and orangey red, and the long-lasting polishes that dry in five minutes and last up to two weeks are hot right now. Plus, short nails are in, as is taking a break from polish altogether when nails need some extra TLC.


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