Mani Monday: Base Coat, a Non-Toxic Nail Salon, Opens in DTLA

Base Coat - Publicity - H 2016
Courtesy of Base Coat

The salon joins a growing number of beauty hotspots in the Arts District.

In recent months, the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District has seen an influx of new businesses and brands ranging from small batch to corporate behemoth. According to Billboard, Warner Music has been eyeing space in the Ford Factory Building at 7th and Santa Fe in a potential move from the company’s Burbank compound where it’s been located for the last 40 years. Plus, Soho House’s highly anticipated downtown location is set to bow next year, making way for what will be perhaps the most posh-yet-gritty hangout the area has ever seen.

So, the addition of a very stylish, non-toxic nail bar, complete with healthy elixirs and trendy accessories, comes as no surprise.

On Tuesday, Base Coat nail salon opens its doors on the hipster-fueled stretch of Mateo Street that’s also home to the Black Halo, Apolis and Shinola stores.

The opening follows celebrity favorite hair haven, Salon Benjamin (fans include Courteney Cox, Connie Britton and Krysten Ritter), which began offering its high-end beauty services in the downtown area earlier this year.

"It’s a vibrant, edgy, diverse and changing neighborhood," says Ali Elman, who co-founded Base Coat with Tran Wills and Sarah Simon. "Downtown L.A. matches our vibe."

That vibe centers around a light and airy space peppered with African-mud-cloth-upholstered chairs and brass fixtures.

But the draw here, besides the general manager celebrity manicurist Shelly Hill, who works with Gwen Stefani and Amal Clooney, is the non-toxic environment and products.

Many salons claim to be “all natural” but offer gels and acrylics. We don't, Elman says. "We have chosen not to offer these services for many reasons — but to keep it simple, these particular nail services have been shown to be highly toxic to clients and nail techs."

Base Coat nail polish is made without the six common chemicals found in nail polishes (toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), formaldehyde, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, paraben), but also without formaldehyde resin and camphor. That means they are "free of the most toxic ingredients known to cause health problems including cancer, asthma and even neonatal death," she says.

Products used in services are formulated and hand blended by FIG & YARROW in Denver, Colo. — all organic, vegan-friendly, scented with essential oils, plant-based preservatives and don't contain petrochemicals, parabens or sulfates. They are "safe to use on children and women who are pregnant/nursing," she says.

In addition, Base Coat has a bar that serves beauty tonics, mock-tails, juices and teas to be enjoyed while you are getting a service. Eventually, the owners plan to get a beer and wine license.

The location also has a retail selection where you can find anything from Moon Juice products to Quay sunglasses. While nails and nail care are the main focus, the founders may add waxing and chair massage to the service list, too.

Base Coat, 704 Mateo Street, Los Angeles, CA 90021,