Views / Toronto / Mom and Pop Shops

Is your nail polish killing you? Maybe... but one small business isn't taking any chances

Who: IndiePolish

What: Creator and distributor of non-toxic nail polish

Why: “It’s kind of scary when you read the ingredients on products and realize what you’re putting on your skin.”

With summer comes a rush to showcase our nails like works of art. The two go together like French manicures and white tips; base coat and topcoat; like ... well you get the point.

As women head to their nearest salon or beauty store looking for new colours to enhance their toes and fingers, one business is hoping to give consumers a homemade version of the nail polish they want — free of the toxins some believe are dangerous to our health (although the issue is heavily debated).

Enter Tanya Picanco, 36, the owner of IndiePolish, a Canadian store that sells nail polish she dubs “three-free,” meaning her products are free of dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde and toluene.

IndiePolish, which will celebrate its first anniversary on Oct. 17, was born from Picanco’s interest in finding holistic and healthy products for her family and friends.

“I’m kind of a nature nut. I make all the shampoo and soap for my family,” she says. “And when you realize that skin is your largest organ, you take more notice of what you’re putting on it.”

It would be easy to see her love for non-toxic ingredients as the basis for a business, but IndiePolish has also fuelled her passion for creating art, namely with makeup.

“I still remember my first polishes I got at seven from my mom. It’s been a love affair ever since,” she says.

“As for my nail polishes, I always had a hard time finding polishes I liked. I started mixing store-bought polishes to get what I wanted. One day a friend told me about making polish ... I looked into it, and the rest is history.”

It’s a lot to do for the working mother, who ships her product throughout North America, but she has a lot of help from her assistant and muse: her autistic son.

The six-year-old acts as a consultant, constantly creating new colour combinations.

“My son … thinks it’s cool to muddle around in all this colour,” she says. “He’ll put different colours together or think of different combinations and I’ll sit and think, ‘Wow, that’s really good,’” she laughs.

“I love what I do, but what makes it even better is being able to spend time with my son creating these safe polishes — emphasis on safe.”

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