Amy Lin, Founder of sundays Nail Studio
The sauciest 2 weeks of summer have almost arrived: it's time to Eat Clean and Play Dirty, and discover what lights you up this season. This time, we're pairing with sundays, one of our absolute favorite nail destinations in the city— and gifting their chic (non-toxic!) polish to the lucky Sakaralites joining the movement. We tapped the founder, Amy Lin, to share her history and love affair with a clean, non-toxic manicure and give us the details on what she's reading while her nails dry, her tips to make a manicure stand the test of salty summer, and how she's defining freedom this season.
What was your first experience with non-toxic beauty and non-toxic nails?
I went to beauty school, where I learned a lot about what actually goes into products and the effects those ingredients can have. Then, after working in nail salons I began to really examine the product labels, and notice all the harmful chemicals and ingredients in so many products - that's what inspired me to create a healthy alternative that would be safer to use for me, the staff, and the clients.
Can you explain to us 5-free, 7-free, 9-free; what does this mean?
When you see a nail polish that's '5-free' for example, it means that particular polish is free from 5 of the harmful chemicals commonly found in regular nail polish(Formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, and camphor.) So, generally speaking, the higher the number, the less toxic it should be. sundays is 10-free, which means the polishes are formulated without dibutyl phthalate, TPHP, toluene, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, camphor, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, parabens, and tert-butyl hydroperoxide. They are also free of ingredients derived from animals.
For resources, there's a lot of information out there on non-toxic beauty, but it can be really hard to know what to believe. I find the Environmental Working Group a really helpful resource for scientifically founded information on chemicals and their effects. You can look up product ingredients on their site and see what risk level that ingredient is at, and all the studies that have been conducted on it. It's not easy-reading, but it's as factual as you can get.
Beyond the clean beauty movement, your space also encourages higher consciousness and self-growth (lots of amazing Brene Brown and Eckhart Tolle on the shelves!) What was the inspiration behind that, and what are the books you turn to time and again for self-growth?
I was inspired by Brene Brown's book about the gift of imperfection. I love that idea, that it's okay to embrace your full self and that you are perfect in your own individual way. We choose books that will inspire people, and encourage them to grow into their true selves and express their own individuality. At sundays, we have a guided meditation option while you mani, and I think The Power of Now really emphasizes that too, that you have to live in the moment and focus on what's happening now — not in the past and not in the future.
What do you want people to know about clean beauty, the non-toxic nail industry, etc.?
I would encourage people to pay attention to the ingredients of the products they use. There is a lot of information out there; I know it can be overwhelming and confusing - but it's worth it to read up on, get the facts, and make up your own mind. You need to be careful and mindful of the information you actually consume. It's an emerging industry, so it's all a little bit unclear at the moment. But we're getting there.
How do we take care of our hands and nails and make a manicure/ pedicure LAST?
- Use a Base and Top Coat always.
- The prep process of your nail is really important too. Make sure the nails and cuticles are in good condition.
- Wear and tear is inevitable, but try to protect your nails as best you can - wear gloves if you're washing the dishes, for example!
- If you're going swimming/washing your hands a lot that will shorten the length of your mani/pedi.
What is your polish color of summer? What about color combos/ designs? What are the nail trends that you're seeing/ loving lately?
My go-to color is sundays shade L.01, it's super fresh and natural pink - perfect for summer. When it comes to nail art, I love really simple and minimal designs that aren't too over-thought - it's super artistic to me, like something you'd see in a museum.
Can you also share some IG accounts you love for nail inspiration?
What are the other self-care, grounding rituals that you love?
Reading is great, I listen to a lot of stuff on Audible too. I also meditate - I try to use some meditation apps on my phone or I'll try to get to a meditation studio for 45 minutes or something. My favorite form of self-care is traveling, but of course, you can't do that very often! Traveling opens our eyes to the world, it's so easy to lose perspective in life, but travel broadens your mind and opens you up to the millions of stories in the world. It's easy for me to stress about things, but traveling shifts my perspective on everything. I really do believe it broadens the mind, it's an incredible experience of learning about others, and yourself too.
Do you have any wellness non-negotiables?
Walking and drinking tea! I walk a lot, and if I'm feeling overwhelmed at anytime I go for a walk to clear my mind and help me feel balanced again. I drink tea everyday - my dad used to have a tea business, so we're a family of tea-drinkers. There's something about the whole preparation process that feels quite special, it's supposed to be done slowly and mindfully, like a ritual.
What music/ podcasts are you listening to right now?
The podcast I'm listening to right now is How I Built This. I love to hear everyone's unique journeys and stories about building their businesses, it's inspiring. They talk about failure, and ups and downs a lot, which is quite comforting for me as someone who owns and runs her own business. I also love to listen to French music - it's very smooth and relaxing.
Do you have a mantra or saying that keeps you grounded and inspired?
Tomorrow is another day. There are always going to be ups and downs, but you can't lose faith over one bad day; there's always something new and exciting around the corner.
What does freedom look like for you, and how are you finding it this summer?
Freedom for me means free expression, and the freedom to be yourself - undistracted by other people's opinions. This summer, how I've been dressing is more about me expressing myself honestly, instead of asking 'Is this appropriate?'.
I used to be more concerned with doing things because they seemed cool, but now I'm much less concerned. I'm just doing things for myself now.