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Photo credit: Photo by Timothy Fadek | A Girl's Gotta Spa! in Patchogue.

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.

7 Responses to “Nails and Nose, Fingers and Toes”

  1. rich says:

    Chemicals that produce formaldehyde in personal care products are legal in the USA and commonly used.

    Your readers would likely be interested in a residential indoor air quality study released by CA on 12/15/2009. They found nearly ALL homes (98%) exceed the State’s recommended level of formaldehyde.

    There are many sources for residential formaldehyde including laminate flooring, fiberglass insulation even though it is behind drywall, cabinets, doors, trim, furniture, closet organizers, fuzzy hangers, cooking etc.

    The only way to know is to test each home. Fortunately, this is easy and inexpensive, $39. Simply slide the badge’s cover down exposing a series of hole. Hang in the center of the area to be tested, start with bedrooms. Wait 24-hours, slide closed and mail to vendor.

    Even if you get a low reading now, you should consider re-testing on a hot sunny summer day. This is because formaldehyde doubles with every 10 degrees. Also with the wall insulation being one of the biggest sources a wall getting summer sun can contribute a lot to that area of the home.

  2. Melissa says:

    I completely agree! We would make good mom friends! lol I just gave birth to our first little girl and all of this has already been discussed. First of all, they grow up so fast why rush it?? Second, the chemicals in these products are insane. Most are not even regulated. I am hoping there will be stiffer laws when my little one is older. Nice blog- I love fellow green blogs!

  3. Christine D. says:

    Agree! I am all for a special occasion mani-pedi with my 6 year old, but only polish and only little girl colors (just got them for FL and, alas, our pedi’s never saw the light of day!). Most exciting about it is the time spent together. My daughter has a lifetime of primping ahead, why start now? Birthday parties should let kids be kids. While we are at it, I can’t stand earrings on babies, heels on young girls and tattoos that look real. No thanks!

  4. kb says:

    I really dislike earrings on babies, too, but I know it’s a really popular trend.

  5. kb says:

    Can’t wait to read your blog, and congrats on your new little girl! You are going to have a ball!

  6. kb says:

    I’m going to have to find that study. Thanks for pointing it out and for reading!

  7. christellar says:

    While I also think being too-much of a “consumerist” is a social problem among youth today, the chemical exposure kind of “adds” to the argument.

    I really thought I was being paranoid at first, but studies show me I’m not alone :)
    Great post!

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