Outreach and Leadership Development
Building the leadership, decision-making, and power of California salon workers and owners invested in improving their working conditions and workplace health and safety through outreach, education and organizing.
“You can’t imagine how many chemicals are being used by workers in nail salons everyday. We do not have enough knowledge about the health hazards of the products we are using.”
— Connie Nguyen, a California cosmetologist who has suffered respiratory problems since she started working in salons nearly 15 years ago
In California and throughout the United States, the beauty industry is booming. “Manis and pedis” are becoming more popular as customers want to be pampered with the latest nail designs, colors, and styles. Over the last twenty years, nail salon services have tripled and cosmetology is now the fastest growing profession in California. Nail polish sales increased 59% for the first 10 months of the 2011 and sold more than any other beauty product in these tough financial times, earning $6 billion dollars globally. While demand for salon services has grown, little attention has been paid to health impacts associated with workplace chemical exposures found in beauty and nail products.
Did You Know?
- According to the Board of Barbering of Cosmetology, in 2016 there are 129,015 licensed manicurists and 312,215 licensed cosmetologists in California. Up to 80% are estimated to be Vietnamese immigrants, and more than 50% are of childbearing age.
- The average annual income for manicurists is $21,800 and for cosmetologists and hair stylists is $26,700. On a daily basis, they work with chemicals known to and suspected of causing illnesses including cancer, respiratory problems, skin problems and reproductive harm.
- There is little government regulation of the chemicals used in salon products. Of the over 10,000 chemicals used in personal care products, 89% have not been independently tested for their impacts on human health.
- Salon workers are at greater risk for health issues related to their work because of various challenges such as language and cultural barriers and lack of access to health care.
Through Outreach and Leadership Development, we bring together organizations that are doing outreach, education and organizing with the nail salon community to share ideas and strategies to promote the needs and build power for the nail salon workforce. Strategies include community outreach, leadership development, media, community forums, and worker/owner advisory committees.
In 2011 the Collaborative released a groundbreaking report, Toxic Beauty No More! Health and Safety of Vietnamese Nail Salon Workers in Southern California, highlighting findings from a community report sharing the health and working conditions of nail salon workers in Southern California.
If you would like more information or have any questions, please contact:
Lisa Fu, Outreach and Program Director