say no to $10 manicures

How the #handlewithcare campaign is helping to support socially responsible salons.

by i-D Staff and Alice Newell-Hanson
19 May 2015, 2:50pm

​Photography Alasdair McLellan

If you've read Sarah Maslin Nir's two-part exposé of New York nail salons in the New York Times, you know that the price of a manicure in New York City is more than the $10.50 you pay upfront. For the woman (because it is usually a woman) painting your nails "Turquoise and Caicos" as you flip through Us Weekly, the cost, more often than not, is exploitation and exposure to life-endangering chemicals, while wages range from criminally low to non-existent.

Read an interview with Sarah Maslin Nir on VICE.

Governor Andrew Cuomo reacted quickly to Nir's findings, putting emergency measures into place to protect nail salon workers (a rare reminder of journalism's ability to provoke real, near-instant change). But many New Yorkers are still wondering how to move forward responsibly. Is boycotting salons going to do more bad than good? Are there salons that don't exploit their employees?

via @handlewithcarenyc

In the week after the Times articles appeared, New Yorkers Pippa Lord and Gillian Tozer launched the campaign #handlewithcare. It's both a website, which provides information about how to help (talk to your manicurist; call the Department of Labor hotline if necessary), and a hashtag, which encourages New Yorkers to share a snapshot of their hand to show they're willing to pay more to ensure ethical labor conditions.

Lord told i-D: "We've realized that our cheap beauty treatments have come at a much greater cost and it's time to evaluate a new way forward, one that treats everyone with compassion and respect. We hope to rally as many people as possible behind Governor Cuomo's swift and brave efforts to reform this industry. Our long-term goal is to enable and inspire a community of passionate women, far beyond New York's borders, to demand socially responsible service and to show kindness toward others."

Follow @handlewithcarenyc on Instagram and show your support.


Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography Alasdair McLellan
Styling Elgar Johnson
[The Winter Warm Up Issue, No. 316, Winter 11]

Sarah Maslin Nir
gillian tozer
pippa lord