All images courtesy of LUX SF
It’s not often that an Allure Best of Beauty Winner is sitting right in your back yard. Fortunately, we San Franciscans have full access to one of the hottest – and hautest – nail salons according to Vogue and Allure magazines. Smack-dab in the middle of San Francisco’s Hayes Valley Neighborhood lies a mani-pedi savior and all-around beauty service gem, LUX SF.
Finally, a late-night spot where on-the-go pros can sit back, relax and get beautified with a range of services like exfoliation, deep hydration, intensive anti-aging and age spot treatments to pamper the hands, arms, legs and feet. Not to mention, for eco-conscious nailistas, mani-pedis will be on-fleck with LUX SF’s vegan nail polishes. Owner Tracy Brown took a pause from his busy schedule to talk nails, spring trends and what makes LUX SF so special.
Tell us about your background in the service industry.
Just prior to moving back into the world of beauty I worked at various social agencies focused on the homeless and the cross-section of access to healthcare. My first job at sixteen was as a sales counter person for Lancome cosmetics at Lord & Taylor, in Houston Texas. With the Lancome job, I became hooked on skincare, and learned the importance of customer service. My understanding and training in customer service came through a variety of service jobs: with Lancome I was taught to know your stuff and how to interact on a one-to-one basis; as a manager of a gourmet food store in Chicago, I became educated in the importance of presentation; as a department store buyer, I learned the importance of future trends, and working in the social service field I learned about the importance of giving back. All of these educational opportunities came together when I knew that fashion/beauty was my first calling. I wanted that to be my life’s work.
What inspired you to move into the world of beauty service and open LUX SF?
I suffered a major chronic setback in 2006, and by 2008, I decided I wanted to do something different with my life. I knew I wanted to get back into beauty and fashion. So I did a lot of research. UC Davis offers a Spa management certificate, worked with the Small Business Administration and tried to have a good foundation to launch this business. I knew that I wanted it to be all about service.
What is your mission at LUX SF?
Our mission is to offer a well-curated range of nail polish, skin treatments and beauty products that envelop our guests in luxury for their nails, hands and feet. Of course kick-ass service goes without saying.
Why Hayes Valley?
Why not? It’s such a developing, exciting neighborhood that it’s interesting. It’s going through it’s growth and development and now we’re a business in Hayes Valley that’s doing the same thing. I’m very fortunate to have gotten this space because people take property very quickly. With all of the businesses and the new developments including apartments and condos going up, people want to be in this neighborhood.
What better place to locate but within a neighbor that has a rich history of diversity, so supportive of small businesses and is new in so many ways, as well. We are so lucky to have found a place not only in Hayes Valley but on Hayes Valley St.
What are the hottest nail trends right now?
What’s big for spring and summer are neon colors, but we’re seeing a lot of muted neon colors. Although we will continue to see neon shades this summer, several brands are offering muted versions of neon, such as Jin Soon’s new spring/summer line.
What’s also been big is negative space nail art. With this look, you’re leaving one part of the nail totally nude where you don’t paint any color. It’s been around for awhile but right now there’s a lot of talk about it. It’s beautiful but it’s also difficult. Our staff is practicing right now with French manicures, half-moon, stripes, vertical and horizontal lines with negative space. I really love this look.
What inspired you to start the LUX SF line of polishes, and how is it different from other nail polishes out there?
When creating LUX SF Nail Color, I wanted to focus on the “California Girl.” I feel that she is as concerned with what she puts in her body as well as what she puts on it (as these chemicals seep into the body). In my research I discovered healthier was to create nail polish that supports these values.
Most are unaware of the chemicals that are traditionally used in nail polish. Over the last decade, we’ve become educated on the harms of formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and toluene. The overwhelming majority of nail polish brands no longer use these chemicals- but most are unaware that the majority of polish brands include additional two additional ingredients – camphor and formaldehyde resin. These are not as toxic as those comprising the “toxic-trio” or better known as “3-free”, but they have toxic qualities therefore if they are not necessary why risk using brands that include these chemicals?
Another element I explored was vegan nail polish. Most nail polish brands still use crushed oyster shells or ground bugs to color and add shine to their brand. Again not needed; in developing my brand, I knew that both 5-free and vegan were values I required when exploring makers of nail polish. And we perform no animal testing as well.
What are you plans for the future at Lux SF, and are there any plans to expand to other locations?
No plans yet to expand; we just want to get continued introduction of colors and new products to our clients. We are continuing to build relationships with our guests – presenting amazing brands and new treatments that most of our guests are unaware or have never had access to in a salon. In addition, this year we are going to form a partnership with the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund (BCEF) to assist in fundraising and services donations in collaboration with our guests. It’s important for every business to give back in small or large ways.
Can you provide a few of your best LUX SF recommendations for Spring treatments?
Sunscreen!!! Everyone knows that it is our hands that give our age away. As part of our anti-aging regimen we need to remember to treat our hands like we do our face and neck: Clean, exfoliate, tone, moisturize and use a weekly mask – yet the most important product we forget to use correctly is sunscreen, and to use it throughout the day. I think we have failed our clients by not using a hand lotion with a sunscreen as part of our services, which we are about to correct. We are trying out a few options and will include the product with all of our hand and arm services in a couple of weeks.
Secondly I suggest bristle brushing your body. As simple as brushing your body and limps in circular motions toward your heart provides needed exfoliation and supports healthy blood flow throughout your body. In addition to horsehair there are several vegan options for bristle brushes, such as sisal.