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Modern womb chairs beckon at Paloma Nail Salon

Image: Benjamin Hill

In the past couple of years, getting a mani/pedi has gone from a splurge that only your wallet weakly protests to a truer sort of guilty pleasure. The kind that comes with knowing the polish you're applying comes with harsh chemicals—I mean, do you really want to put formaldehyde on your fingers? How exactly are you supposed to relax when employees are wearing face masks for their health?

Luckily, there's a better way. High-end brands rejecting traditional polishes' toxic compounds have been popping up for years, though until recently they've been hard to find at nail salons. But they are the only type of polish on offer at Paloma Nail Salon in BLVD Place, though owner Maryam Naderi says that's only a small part of what makes her salon a new type of nail experience for Houston women.

"My background is not in cosmetology or nails, by any means, but I found myself asking the same question—why doesn't a better experience in nails exist in Houston, of all cities? It's such a great market for people concerned with wellness, in what we're putting in our bodies," says Naderi, a former management consultant.

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Every nail polish at Paloma is at least 5-free.

Image: Benjamin Hill

Every polish at Paloma is at least 5-free, or free of formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, and camphor, from brands including Deborah Lippman, Dior, Smith & Cult and Lauren B Beauty, the last of which is an LA-based cult favorite that's exclusive to Paloma in Houston. For those who want something a little more long-lasting, the Deborah Lippman Gel Lab Pro line offers a similar long-wearing style.

 "We use really incredible products, everything from our scrubs and lotions to the salts in the pedicure tubs are certified vegan, fair-trade, GMO-free organic products, so I can promise it's not going to irritate your skin. You have the peace of mind knowing this isn't going to damage your body," says Naderi.

She describes Paloma as fitting in perfectly between the "budget chop-shop nail salon" and high-end day spas. The design of the space, by Content Architecture, feels modern and sleek, with Saarinen womb chairs to relax in and music playing in the background (rather than a television blaring a random daytime talk show). But it's your nose that's in for the most improved sensory experience.

"You're not hit in face with fumes. You're not going to walk in and get headaches," says Naderi, who notes that a lot of her clients found Paloma because the chemical smell of typical salons gives them migraines. On the other side, Paloma wants to be more convenient than the day spas by offering online appointment booking (which is astonishingly rare) and the ability to receive a manicure and pedicure at the same time, so customers can get in, out and on with their day.

"A nail service is the most time-efficient, cost-effective way to boost confidence, but the typical nail salon experience not very relaxing," says Naderi. "What clients tell me is this is why it should be."

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