While pregnant, she gagged over the usual nail salon fumes. Now meet her new baby

Base Coat
A look at the interior of Base Coat, a Denver-based, eco-friendly nail salon that’s new to downtown Los Angeles.
(Base Coat)

At Base Coat, a new nail salon in Los Angeles’ Arts District, clients are greeted with tea fortified with beautifying herbs such as rose hip, lemongrass and horsetail.

They get to recline in chairs covered with handmade Turkish mud cloth and have their hands and feet soothed with organic scrubs and their nails painted with non-toxic varnishes. And they get to let their manicures and pedicures dry on a patio while enjoying an aloe-based punch spiced with turmeric.

This wellness-based approach to getting your nails done was conceived by Tran Wills, who opened the first Base Coat in Denver three years ago. During her pregnancy, Wills said she felt nauseated by the fumes in a regular nail salon and started looking for a non-toxic space.

“I started wondering, ‘Why doesn’t this exist?’” said Wills, one of the founders of Base Coat.


The 1,800-square-foot salon, opened last month around the corner from restaurants and cafes including Bestia and Blue Bottle Coffee, is dedicated to all things non-toxic, which is why you won’t find gel tips being applied here. Instead, the company has its own brand of nail polishes in 100 colors with no formaldehyde, parabens, camphor or cellophane —  ingredients that can trigger allergies — an no animal testing.

A closer look at the interior and exterior of Base Coat in downtown L.A.
A closer look at the interior and exterior of Base Coat in downtown L.A.
(Base Coat )

The lotions and scrubs used are formulated by artisanal beauty brand Fig + Yarrow. Also onsite is what co-founder Ali Elman describes as a “real beauty bar” with kombucha on tap, an offering of elixirs and tonics for overall wellness and, when a beer and wine license is approved, light cocktails that will have a beautifying component. (Another co-founder, Sarah Simon, is the founder of the Simon Collective, which owns health-forward eateries including the Butcher’s Daughter in Venice.) 

Base Coat’s interior is in clean, crisp black, white and gold with accents of brass and wood. There are eight manicure and seven pedicure stations set among Moroccan-inspired lighting and tilework. 


“We’re in that market between the chop shops in the strip malls and the high-end spas and hotels,” said Elman. “We want to give the experience of luxury to our customers but not have those very expensive prices.”

A second Los Angeles Base Coat is scheduled to open in the spring in West Los Angeles. Prices range from $30 to $50 for manicures and $40 to $60 for pedicures.

Base Coat, 704 Mateo St., Los Angeles,


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