Monday, October 2, 2023  



San Francisco Celebrates the First Green Business Certified ‘Healthy Nail Salon’ in California


The fusion of San Francisco Environment Department’s Green Business and Healthy Nail Salon programs protects the health of workers and customers and boosts the sustainability and economic resiliency of small businesses.

San Francisco, CA –The San Francisco Environment Department (SFE) recognized The Upper Hand Nail Spa in Noe Valley as its first San Francisco Green Business Certified Healthy Nail Salon in the State of California. The Green Business state certification is a prestigious award honoring businesses that meet high standards of environmental performance. The Healthy Nail Salons program, administered by the San Francisco Environment Department, supports San Francisco’s nail salon workers and customers to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals and improve indoor air quality.

Green Business “Certified” is the second of three possible certification tiers and had been previously out of reach for nail salons. The certification requires them to implement measures to conserve water, reduce waste, use less energy, and purchase green products. The certification also provides access to rebates and prebates for the measures and can help salons afford more cost-prohibitive ventilation units. The certification requirements are administered by the California Green Business Network, a statewide program that assists businesses in becoming more sustainable.

“Being a Healthy Nail Salon in San Francisco means these businesses have already made significant changes to create less toxic environments for their workers, customers, and the planet,” said Tyrone Jue, Director of the San Francisco Environment Department. “By capitalizing on the existing relationships we’ve built with these salons through extensive in-language outreach, we’re helping these small businesses reduce their water, energy, waste, and carbon footprint, while generating cost savings.

San Francisco launched the first-ever Healthy Nail Salon Program in 2012 as part of the City’s effort to reduce worker and customer exposure to toxic chemicals. A 2016 report showed that nationwide, the nail industry was composed of 74% Vietnamese-born workers and owners. These small businesses are staffed primarily by women, immigrants, and refugees, often of childbearing age. San Francisco is no different, which is why the Environment Department provides Vietnamese in-language services to these businesses. The end result is trusted relationships, significantly lower barriers to access, and improved health and equity outcomes for the workers that are too often overlooked.

San Francisco launched its Green Business Program in 1996 to help businesses lower energy usage, reduce their waste, and conserve water. The California Green Business Network has developed more than 30 sector checklists that support all kinds of businesses across California in conserving resources, making communities more livable and healthier, and saving money.

SF Environment’s administration of the program has enabled it to provide both economic and technical assistance to 386 currently recognized businesses, as well as hundreds of other businesses in the certification process, helping them save money and access additional resources. But certifying nail salons has been tricky, given some of the harmful chemicals involved in the day-to-day operations. SF Environment has leveraged their expertise and in-language experience to help the California Green Business Network mitigate accessibility barriers by offering an implementation model for salons statewide to obtain recognition at the Green Business Certified level. The Certification is significant for small businesses like Healthy Nail Salons, not only helping with sustainability goals, but also furthering their bottom line with reduced water, energy, and waste costs.

“The San Francisco Green Business and Healthy Nail Salons programs support the resiliency of small businesses while helping the City reach its sustainability and equity goals,” said Katy Tang, Director of the Office of Small Business. “Together, these two programs provide support and resources to businesses often operated and staffed by first-generation residents throughout San Francisco.”

Two more Healthy Nail Salons are on track to becoming San Francisco Green Business Certified this month, but it’s The Upper Hand Nail Spa that gets the distinction of being the first. Located in the heart of Noe Valley, The Upper Hand provides customers with a toxin-free and organic nail experience.  

If you are interested in the San Francisco Green Business program, or want to find a Healthy Nail Salon near you, check out SF Environment’s Green Business or Healthy Nail Salons maps and support one of these small business sustainability leaders today.  



Contact information