I was reading a story in today’s Newsday. (Well, ExploreLI, since I can’t read Newsday anymore since it ceased being free online.) The story, Ribbons and Curls at Spas for Girls, profiled a local spa designed just for little girls. Bathrobes and pedicures and pink lemonade in Champagne glasses. For $180, the salon will even pick your child up in a stretch limo and roll out a red carpet when she arrives.
I am probably going to be very unpopular when I say this but: bah-humbug! Don’t get me wrong. I am not against little girls getting their nails done. (Well, that’s not 100 percent true. I am against girls younger than four getting their nails done.) I am, however, against the sexualization and adult treatment of those girls. To me, giving a little girl the same experience that should be reserved for something special like a first school dance or being in a wedding is just wrong. You want to give your kid a manicure or bring her with you when you get yours? Great, but does a six-year-old really need to sip a drink out of a Champagne flute while someone does her toes? I’m thinking not. I feel the same way about facials, hair highlighting, tight and/or trampy clothing, and belly shirts. They should be reserved for the teenage years. Let little girls be little girls. Still, the woman who came up with the idea is laughing all the way to the bank.
Of course, experience aside, most nail polishes and cosmetics contain lots of chemicals — the most common are toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), which are carcinogens. Toluene or methylbenzen, which is found in paint thinners and helps nail polish look smooth and shiny, can cause headaches and neurological damage. Formaldehyde is the stuff that dead bodies are preserved in. It’s an anti-fungal agent, and extremely toxic to humans. Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) is the one that makes me the maddest. It’s been banned for use in cosmetics as well as children’s toys by the European Union since it can cause birth defects. We still allow it to be used here in the States, although thankfully most major companies have eliminated it from their products. You can find out if the polish your salon uses is safe for kids by checking out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Database.
And since you’re probably wondering: Yes, my big girl gets her nails done. I buy kid-safe nail polished from my local Whole Foods, which she loves. Plenty of pretty colors (no reds, as per Daddy), and skin-safe top and base coat, too. When she does get her nails done she’s not allowed to have her cuticles pushed or cut, and we bring all our own tools for an added level of safety. (THAT is a whole other issue — and blog post.)
How do you feel about makeup, spas, and nails for little girls? I’d like to know.