The first thing that struck me when I walked through the doors at Van Court Studio was the smell, or rather the lack of one. Usually when I visit nail salons a noxious odor is the first thing that greets me. Instead, I was greeted with a glass of wine.
The reason for the absence of fumes? They don’t use harsh chemicals at Van Court. The owner, Ruth Kallens, wanted to provide an alternative to the typical nail salon experience, one that embraces clean ingredients and a healthier approach to nail care.
All of the nail polishes are at least 5-Free, which means they don’t contain the five toxic substances you’ll find in most polish lines. And think about that. We no longer use lead paint in our homes because of what we learned in the 70’s. Nail polish is another kind of paint, one we put on our body no less, so why not choose a healthier option? And don’t get me started on nail biters and the essential poison you’re ingesting every time you gnaw on manicured fingers.
One of the polish lines Van Court carries, LVX, was at the Indie Beauty Expo. I was skeptical at first thinking a non-toxic lacquer would peel or chip after day one. I was proven wrong. In fact, Ruth said many of her clients are former gel users that have destroyed their nails and she’s rehabbing them back into shape.
The same can be said for the other products used at Van Court, like organic Jojoba and fractionated coconut oils used for massage, pink Himalayan salt and organic food and therapy grade doterra oils for aromatherapy. All these items are organic and naturally sourced, which also explained the lack of any pungent smell or face masks worn by the technicians.
Speaking of which, the salon is high-end in terms of having the industry’s top licensed nail technicians and eco-friendly products, but it didn’t feel stuffy or unapproachable. Quite the opposite. One wall is all windows that look out over Water Street in downtown Manhattan. The rest is exposed brick and the treatment stations are well-spaced and comfortable. Unless you’re getting the express service, a massage is also included. They even clean your rings as a complimentary offer.
The price points are a bit higher, but when you consider the long-term investment of not exposing yourself to chemical ingredients, it’s worth it. There are also treatments for men and children, as well as massage and gift options.
Between sips of wine and an immaculate mani/pedi given by Teresa — who was born and raised in Brooklyn and told me all about her Irish roots — I learned that the ideal shape for my nails is something called “squoval”, a combination of square and oval, and which color palette best suits my skin tone.
Throughout my time at Van Court (the name honors Ruth’s great aunt) numerous people came and went that all seemed to have familiarity with the space. One woman, dressed in gym clothes, dropped in to share the news of her engagement the night before. In other words, it felt like a community.
That’s no accident, either. Ruth hosts special nights where you can get a manicure with a side of acupuncture, meditation, herbal remedies or even business coaching. A flier caught my eye on the way out. In big letters it read: Be A Goal Digger. Ruth invited an executive coach to lead a workshop geared around women in business. Now that’s just cool and the kind of message I like to see.
To learn about the treatments at Van Court or to book an appointment, visit their website. The location is a block away from Wall Street and, hands down, a very clean investment – in you.