A new, eco-friendly nail salon has set up shop in Toronto’s east endBeauty
Here’s why you need to head to Barefoot Beauty for your next mani or pedi.
When Emily Stock first began practicing as a chiropodist, or medical foot specialist as Stock likes to call herself, she noticed that many patients were coming to her with infections, fungus and painful ingrown toe nails that could all be attributed to a pedicure. “Barefoot Beauty evolved from a desire to create something better than what was available,” Stock told me of her new salon space at 643 Queen Street East. “All of those issues were 100 percent preventable if proper infection control and procedure was in place. I knew that with my clinical knowledge and access to medical-grade sterilization products, I could create a nail salon with the safest manicures and pedicures possible.”
Aside from providing manicures and pedicures with the utmost of care, Stock also wanted to create a salon that used the most sustainable polishes and enlisted sustainable practices through out.
I spoke with Stock, chiropodist and owner/founder of Barefoot Beauty, about her vision for the space, why sustainable goes hand-in-hand with her chiropodist practice and more.
*Why was being environmentally friendly so important to you?
Both the health care industry and the aesthetics industry have a horrible reputation when it comes to producing waste. I wanted to make every attempt possible to limit the waste we produce and the resources we use because wellness is not just about the body, but also about the environment we live in. To truly promote wellness, I felt it was crucial to respect the earth and all it provides for us. Some of the ways we try to be eco-friendly is by offering waterless pedicures, using an autoclave to sterilize metal tools to decrease reliance on disposable tools, using petroleum-free wax and paraffin-alternative treatments, making our own lotions and scrubs in bulk to decrease packaging and shipping, and sourcing our retail locally as much as possible.
*How much of a training process does your team go through?
The training process is pretty intensive over the first few weeks, but lasts for about 4 weeks. I’m quite strict about the infection control protocols and the technicians are not able to work on clients until they have proven to thoroughly understand all aspects of maintaining hygiene and safety throughout the service. Beyond that, we have an extensive training manual that the technicians must study thoroughly to be able to educate our clients on our techniques and why we do things differently. Lastly, consistency in services is extremely important and the technicians must prove that they can follow the service protocols to the letter before working on clients.
*What services beyond manis and pedis can people get at the spa?
Along with manicures and pedicures, we offer waxing services using Rica wax, a wax made of 98 percent natural ingredients, petroleum-free, fragrance-free, and wonderfully gentle for sensitive skin. We also offer Eco-Fin services, a healthier, more eco-friendly skin nourishing treatment as an alternative to paraffin, which is made of petroleum-based ingredients – not good for the environment and not really something you want coating your skin.
And of course, the salon shares the space with East Toronto Foot Care where I offer medical foot care for more complicated concerns, such as ingrown nails, corns, calluses, warts, and custom orthotics.
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*Why did you decide to use five-free polishes and above?
To be completely straightforward, the amount of any ingredient alone in nail polish is typically not enough to be harmful, even to the regular polish user. That being said, initiatives by nail polish producers to eliminate specific ingredients that have been connected to negative health and environmental effects are still very important.
When it comes to chemical exposure, the most concerning chemicals are those with a bioaccumulative effect (those that build up in your body over time and are not easily eliminated), such as formaldehyde and toluene, as well as those which are commonly found in small amounts in many wellness and household products. The concern with these two factors is that you end up being exposed to much more of a substance than you realize and this could easily mean that your exposure goes from harmless to harmful shockingly fast.
I know that in this day and age it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to completely eliminate toxic chemicals from all aspects of our lives. But if we can make small decisions, such as choosing healthier nail polishes, this will greatly help to limit our exposure. Life is all about choices and we’re just trying to make one of those choices a bit easier for our clients.
*Why did you create a waterless pedicure? How did you create this?
I created the waterless pedicure for two reasons: 1. Even a small salon can waste over 500 litres of water a day providing pedicures, so the potential for offering a more environmentally responsible option was very important to me. 2. There are major hygiene concerns with jetted footbaths. Those pipes are breeding ground for fungus and bacteria and nearly impossible to clean and even the plastic liners can be porous enough to allow small microbes through. I didn’t want clients with health concerns or weakened immune systems, such as diabetics or chemotherapy patients, to feel as though they couldn’t fully enjoy our services, so I removed the soak to remove any risk of spreading infections.
I played around with different options such as steams, dry towels, and completely dry pedicures. In the end, I found that using a gentle fruit extract-based callus softener coupled with a hot moistened towel worked wonderfully to soften the skin and relax the muscles.
*How has the response been so far from clients?
We’ve had such a wonderful response from our clients! At first I was terrified that people would think I was crazy for not offering foot soaks in our pedicures but it’s actually turned out to be one of the biggest selling points for a lot of our clients. Most of the people who walk through our doors are people who had concerns or hesitations regarding their previous nail salon experiences and were excited to find a safer, cleaner, better option. Other clients stumbled upon us through other means but have since been converted by the knowledge that they can get the same outcomes in a much safer, healthier, more eco-friendly way.
*What are your favourite mani and pedi colours to wear personally?
I think nail colour is an awesome, temporary way to express yourself in a fun, lighthearted way, so occasionally you’ll find me with a bright pink sparkly nails, but more often than not, I love the sophistication and clean look of a rose pink on my fingers and a navy blue on my toes.