First off, I just want to openly tell you how much I love Tabby Casto. Tabby is a London based make up artist and manicurist; we crossed paths at a few fashion events recently and, well, she’s just really good at what she does. She’s worked with a load of amazing brands and publications (Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Nylon …etc) but she also offers manicures from the comfort of her cute home in North London. I’ve had a few manicures in the past (and we’re talking years ago here ha) but I’m trying to get better at self care and doing nice things for me, because mental health is an important thing too and treating your body nicely certainly helps, so I decided to book one of her vegan manicures.

Before I go any further I first want to highlight that, if you’re going to get manicures and the like, it’s super important to establish a relationship with a salon or professional you know and trust. Sadly, human trafficking is more common than anyone would expect. Many asian nail bars across the world are hotspots for human trafficking; often manicurists have been trafficked into the country for bonded labour, and they are sometimes forced to work as prostitutes as well. If you google this you’ll find information all over the place, but for more reference you can read here, herehere and here. It makes for grim reading, so I would urge all of you that, no matter how cheap that manicure might seem, if you don’t know and trust the business, don’t do it. Also, Tabby’s prices are only a fraction higher than those cheaper places and her quality is so much better; she told me countless stories of women she treats who’ve come to her after having cheap manicures with terribly damaged nails. I’m a big fan of entrepreneurship and supporting young creatives, so why not find a locally owned smaller establishment, or a freelancer like Tabby who are offering the same services? You know you’re going for something more ethical, higher quality and also supporting people in their careers, it’s a win for everyone. This isn’t to say that all asian salons are bad, I’m sure there are some brilliant asian run businesses out there, I’m just saying do your research.

With that being said, let’s talk about Tabby’s actual services, in general she offers a whole range of different things as she covers both make up and nails, but more specifically her vegan, cruelty free manicures aren’t just vegan polishes but every product used. She happily told me more about each product with really in depth knowledge that shows she knows what she’s talking about. Did you know that often shiny nail polish has fish scales in it to make it shiny? I didn’t, but Tabby did. (also, ew). Here’s a list of the products she used:

– Salon services cleansing spray, a vegan antibacterial spray which is super handy
– Superdrug own brand nail polish remover, it turns out that all of Superdrug’s own brand range is vegan, which is awesome
– Vita Coco coconut oil, for cuticle care and moisture before the actual manicure. We all know coconut oil is magical in all ways so that’s that
– China Glaze for the nail colour (currently only their topcoats and colours are vegan so do watch out). I went for a sparkly without fish scales gold because unicorn magic after all and LOVED it, it was such a nice colour and really brightened my mood by making me that little bit more magical
– Guy Morgan Apothecary salem rose oil, for my cuticles and nails once the colour was applied. I love rose, and this oil both smelled amazing and felt incredibly nourishing. Guy Morgan uses natural, organic, sustainably sourced ingredients and all products are handmade in East London by Guy Morgan, so many boxes ticked there
– Sukin moisture rich body creme, used for the hand massage after my nails were dry. Tabby also had a product from Lush but we all know them so I went for Sukin. The creme felt lovely and hydrating but more importantly smelled incredible with a really light fresh scent that was perfect for the summer (because for once it was actually hot outside). Sukin are another brilliant brand; they’re 100% carbon neutral and vegan, with recyclable packaging and all formulations being biodegradable and grey water safe. The ethical dream!

As well as the above Tabby also recommended a few other vegan brands for when you’re wanting to do nails yourself at home:

– Barry M, cruelty free but also often vegan. They have a special vegan sign so any product with this sign is a winner for you.
– Ciate, according to Tabby you can often pick Ciate up in TK Maxx for a cheaper price, there’s a top tip
– Joshik, as well as being vegan their products are made in the USA and are 5-free (made without Formaldehyde, Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde Resin, or Camphor) if that’s your jam

And remember with all of the above, once you’re done with your at home nail polishes you can recycle those containers at Origins to keep the zero waste fun going. We don’t want waste after all!

So anyway in conclusion, basically Tabby is a fount of ethical nail knowledge, in fact as a make up artist she is also transitioning her entire kit to cruelty free, which is really admirable when being a make up artist requires you to own so many products. After a busy week it was not only lovely to do something nice for myself with my manicure, it was even better to know that I was able to do it in an ethical way with someone I trust. It’s much nicer to be able to get your nails done whilst chatting away to someone you know, it feels like a much more equal relationship than just coming into a cheap random salon that you don’t know anything about. You get to chat and have fun whilst you’re pampered, and you’re not hurting any humans, animals or yourself along the way. It’s nice to know that there are conscious ways to treat yourself, Tabby also does a variety of hand soaks which she can make vegan so I’m already excited for my next trip to see her in the future!

I hope you all find some ethical nail artists inspiration from this; if you’re in London definitely hit Tabby up, if you’re further afield I hope you find a wonderful manicurist too!

Until next time, stay magic y’all.