Jackie Dalton was in a beauty quandary.
Her then-3-year-old daughter wanted to get her nails done each time her mom set off to have hers buffed, massaged and polished.
But the former fashion designer, who once owned Iconology, a luxury clothing store in Los Angeles, was concerned about the chemicals and toxins in popular nail polish brands.
After poring over research on the nail industry and collaborating with skin care consultants, Dalton set off on a quest to create a place free of fumes — or as her business tag line reads, "Where organic and glossy meet."
She opened Lollipop Nail Studio in 2013 in Costa Mesa as a healthy and fashion-forward place offering organic manicures and pedicures. No acrylic nails allowed.
"I was frustrated," Dalton said in her orange and white shop at The Camp. "I just kept thinking that it's fun to be playful and use color, but you have to be organic and have it safe. You shouldn't have to make a choice between the two."
That philosophy is why Lollipop limits its use of alcohol and acetone and avoids perfumed lotions and dyes. The studio offers vegan "5-free" non-toxic nail polishes, meaning brands that have removed formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate and toluene from their mixes along with allergens camphor and formaldehyde resin.
The makers of vegan nail polish do not test their products on animals and refrain from using fish scales to create shimmery and metallic shades. Beyond the ethical concerns, such ingredients, Dalton noted, shouldn't be whiffed or applied on skin.
Whirlpool tubs that can harbor bacteria are absent from the salon. All tools are sterilized in a medical-grade autoclave and only new files, sticks and buffers are used for each client. Manicures are waterless; hot towels are applied to hands to soften cuticles rather than soaking fingers in a dipping bowl. This is another way to avoid having customers use what others have used before them.
The salon's soaks, scrubs and massage oils are made in-house twice a week in small batches free of preservatives, parabens and artificial colors, Dalton said. The handcrafted line mixes olive soap, organic sugar and natural salts into oils such as rose, camellia, geranium and almond to create custom-made scrubs.
"You can't fully eliminate all toxins, but you try to make it as healthy as possible," Dalton said, adding that the studio also uses Hopscotch Kids, a water-based nail polish line that is safe for children.
Customers can purchase the handmade cuticle oil, hand and foot oil, and healing balms.
Clients sit on cushioned chairs or on a vintage 1950 bamboo couch and are offered organic lemonade. Services include a $25 manicure, a $35 pedicure and a $22 "Boss Manicure," which trims, shapes and buffs the cuticles of men and women.
Lollipop and other nail shops are including more boutique services as they strive to offer unique experiences. The Nail Lounge in Costa Mesa uses a FootsieBath tub with liners that can be disposed of after each treatment, and it offers a $34 signature manicure that includes paraffin wax. Pure YL Organics Salon in Laguna Beach offers vegan nail services without the use of spa chairs, sulfates and parabens.
Thanks in part to such trends, a record $7.47 billion was spent in nail salons in 2012, according to Nail Magazine, a resource for the professional nail care industry that pulled data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and from an online survey.
Dalton said her clients, many of whom are cancer survivors, pregnant women and moms, are looking for an alternative.
"There's a need for this in the market," Dalton said. "People want somebody who can offer a better and healthy experience and we've got it. It's such a compliment when people trust you with their health."
If You Go
What: Lollipop Nail Studio
When: 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays
Where: The Camp, 2937 Bristol St., Costa Mesa
Information: (714) 444-0330 or visit lollipopnailstudio.com