In the self-care era, indulging in the occasional beauty treatment is not only encouraged, it’s celebrated. But as we enter 2020, we want our skincare and makeup regimens to not just beautify ourselves, but our environment too. Guilt-free indulgence is the goal.

And while nail salons have traditionally been the domain of eye-watering chemicals, there’s a new nail trend aiming to change how we treat our hands and, in turn, our planet. Enter: the ‘clean manicure’.

Also known as the ‘naked manicure’, this technique is a healthier, more eco-friendly alternative to the traditional shellac or polish options favoured at your local salon.

Curious to know more? Keep reading.


According to Jocelyn Petroni, official manicurist for Chanel, the “clean manicure” is her salon’s answer to the rise in “conscious consumerism”.

“This new treatment focuses on the overall health of the nail, and excludes harsh ingredients that can be found in most manicure and pedicure treatments,” Petroni tells BAZAAR.

“We have handpicked products and ingredients that help protect the skin and the environment, as well as packaging that is biodegradable. The treatment is completely personalised to your own individual nail concerns, which makes it unique from the common manicure.”

Petroni says the desire for a “cleaner” alternative stems from the damage caused by synthetic nail treatments like shellac or SNS.

“[Many of my clients] are recovering from the overuse of synthetic nail treatments which occlude the nail, suffocating it from airflow and resulting in a weaker, softer nail,” Petroni says.

“This weakening of the nail surface has a knock-on effect on the nail bed and root, which sees critical blood and nutrient flow reduced. Women often get trapped in the cycle of having them done and redone which results in a myriad on nail concerns and leaving yourself open to fungal infections.”


Although each treatment is different, the clean manicure focuses on using natural and pure products to strengthen your nail health. It’s a polish free process, meaning you forego colour in favour of a traditional file and buff.

 Petroni favours Swiss brand MAVALA, whose products are odourless, colourless and acetone-free, and made with sustainable processes.

Typically, the process begins by cleaning the nails of any lingering polish residue, followed by the application of a cuticle softener loaded with essential oils.

Finally, the natural nail plate is buffed until it has a “glassy” sheen and a natural keratin nail treatment is applied to set and strengthen


“The result after this treatment is healthy bare nails that are shiny and look healthy, with pink nail beds reflecting good blood flow, strong white edges and no discolouration,” Petroni explains.

ELLE‘s Beauty Director, Brooke Le Poer Trench, was initially sceptical about the treatment, but counts herself as a convert.

“I wasn’t sure that a keratin treatment could really change the look and feel of my nails without polish, but four days in and my nails are still super shiny and smooth,” she explains.

“The only thing I can really liken it to is having your teeth properly cleaned at the dentist, you don’t realise how much you needed it until you see the final product! Plus, this is a chip-free manicure, meaning I don’t have to deal with the disappointment of watching it disappear.”

Words by Susannah Guthrie for Harpers Bazaar Online