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The Nail Files – Jenna Hipp, Green Celebrity Manicurist

Welcome to The Nail Files, a new series here on All Lacquered Up. The Nail Files will feature interviews with nail industry professionals, sharing their favorite products, manicure tricks, views on nail trends, back story, etc. I really hope you all enjoy it.

To kick off the series, I’m continuing the eco-conscious theme I featured in honor of Earth Day with green celebrity manicurist Jenna Hipp. Jenna spends her days styling the tips and toes of celebs like Jessica Alba, Sophia Bush, Fergie and Paris Hilton all the while keeping a focus on using healthy, earth-friendly products. She’s young (only 26) and gorgeous (a former model), yet she’s already racked up an impressive list of clients and editorial work. So getting the chance to pick her brain about all things nails was truly a treat.

What made you focus on celebrity and editorial work and how did you break into the industry?
This career most definitely chose me. Prior to the nail industry, I owned a photo rep agency in Los Angeles called “Hipp Artist Management”. I was an agent for a select group of fashion, beauty and celebrity photographers. Before that, I was modeling and doing makeup. Celebrity Manicurist Lisa Postma is the sole reason for my career change. She’s the one who made my new life possible because she believed in me and connected me with the right people.

It seems that a lot of celebrities are playing it safe with their nails. Who really dares to be different and fashion forward with their color choices?
Fergie is awesome! I love how she’s not afraid to make a statement and go all-out with her nail choices. My favorite is her domino design. Sophia Bush is also quite brave with her color choices. She loves the color Alive by SpaRitual. Kate Nauta from Transporter 2 is always using the brightest neons! I just used Orly’s Green with Envy on her. It’s Wild! And, of course, we can’t forget Rihanna. She rockin’ a different color every week. These girls definitely know how to use their nail color as an accessory, which I think is super fun!

Fergie has been the focus of an All Lacquered Up Celebrity Nail Watch due to her outrageously bold color and nail art choices. Where does the inspiration for her different looks come from?
Fergie likes what she likes. She’s not afraid to try something new and she’s definitely not afraid to make bold statements with her nails! Most magazines want a really natural nail, like the shoot I did for her for the cover of Glamour Magazine. She’s totally cool with that, too.

Do you see any celebrity nail trends emerging for summer? And who is wearing them?
The hottest colors this summer are bright and bold but still feminine and sophisticated. Reds and darker oranges, even the flirty pinks and lavenders are mixed with beige, grey, or orange undertones to give the nails a uniquely personal, chic finish that looks new and fresh on toes and fingers. Popping, happier, energetic reds mixed with oranges, tangerines. Avoid matching the hands with the toes. You don’t want to be too matchy-matchy!

My favorite nail color for summer is a bold, yet elegant, tangerine from SpaRitual called Plugged In. The color is flattering on just about anyone!

As far as neutral colors; matte baby pinks with a hint of melon or lilac mixed with a creamier white base. Not the usual shimmery pinks of the past several years. My favorite softer pinks are Orly’s First Kiss and Cupcake. For brighter, Butterflies is great summer pink! Dolly Parton has been wearing the best pink ever like SpaRitual’s Strike A Pose. I love it…and her! Seriously, if I could meet anyone in the world, it would be her!

I’m also seeing traditional summer fabrics used as nail texture. Heatherette and Tracey Ullman are rocking nails painted like the American Flag and we may also being seeing plaid and snake skin patterns too!

OK let’s talk green and healthy nail care. How does being a “green” manicurist affect your ability to work with artificial nails?
I do not do acrylic or gel artificial nails at all. When I work with a celebrity who has artificial nails I usually just do an organic deep conditioning treatment as well as hand exfoliation. And, of course, a polish change!

What are your favorite green nail products? Polish, treatments, tools, etc.
These are my favs that just came out:
SpaRitual Awakened Collection, Orly Love Collection and SpaRitual Open-Minded Organic Sugar Scrub (70% certified organic ingredients ).

These are my classic favorites:
Nail Polish

  • Orly – 3 Free and no parabens, FD&C coloring or animal testing. They have a ton of fantastic, fun colors and the Manicure Miniatures are perfect for me as I have to bring so many polishes to photo shoots.
  • SpaRitual – They use Vegan ingredients from around the world, including many specially sourced and selected plant essences that are wildcrafted or organic. The formulations are naturally colored and free of synthetic dyes.
  • Priti Polish – An incredible boutique spa in Soho, Priti is 100 percent organic. All their nail varnishes are completely formaldehyde, toluene and DBP free.

Top coat - Nubar Diamond Shine & Seal and Zoya Armor
Bottom coat - SpaRitual Resurface Smoothing Primer Basecoat and SpaRitual Multi-Tasker Base & Top Coat In One
Cuticle oil – Nubar Cucumber Cuticle Oil and Carolyn New York Lavender Cuticle Oil
Nail polish remover – Nubar Cucumber Polish Remover (acetone free and smells nice) and Priti Soy Polish Remover (no petroleum by-products, non-toxic and biodegradable)
Hand cream – SpaRitual Instinctual Moisturizing Lotion (MY FAVORITE!!!!) and Burt’s Bees Healthy Healing Carrot Nutritive Body Lotion
Others – Farm Fresh Fine Foot Scrubs, Dermalogica Stree Relief Treatment Oil and Dermalogica Hydro-Active Mineral Salts

I’ve noticed brands that say they are “formaldehyde free” still contain the resin. What is the difference?
3 Free formula SHOULD be completely free of any traces of DBP, Formaldehyde and Toluene. However many lacquers say they are 3 Free but contain formaldehyde and toluene resin. Sometimes the toxic heavy metal lead acetate is included. A number of the common synthetic coloring agents have also been linked to cancer in some studies, especially the coal-tar dyes found in FD&C Blue 1 and FD&C Green 3.

What about the packaging? Does 3 Free and environmentally friendly packaging go hand in hand?
Green packaging is important as well! Green formula with environmentally hazardous bottles and packaging/manufacturing practices is so not cool! SpaRitual makes it their brand philosophy from start to finish to be eco-conscious and green. They recycle all by-products, run on the least amount of energy possible, avoid harmful chemicals and toxins during the manufacturing process and use recycled glass and FSC certified paper for all sales and marketing collateral, shipping and packaging.

Just a few things to know about how GREEN SpaRitual is…they are in eco-friendly bottles with soy based ink, recycled glass and shipped/produced to create the least stress on the environment. They’re also the first nail care company to get the “stamp of approval” from AVEDA, which means they can now be placed in all their concept stores.

Do you feel that the chemical free or more natural products are just as effective and long lasting as the conventional lines?
It’s known in the nail world that a lot of really natural lacquer collections usually lack color options and don’t have the best staying power. This is true for a lot of brands, but not for the ones I use which include SpaRitual, Orly, and Priti. They each have over 80 shades in their collections and a staying power that matches the toughest of lacquers out there!

What steps can we as consumers take to make sure our nail services are more earth conscious both at the salon and at home?
Education is the first step. Read labels to avoid toxic ingredients. Next step, find a green brand of polishes you love and take them to the salon. Make sure you bring your base coat and top coat as well. Jessica Alba keeps green products I gave her in the glove box of her car. That way she always has them with her. She’s very aware of the harm nail chemicals can cause, especially while being pregnant. She’s going to be the best mom!

What are your 5 “must have” eco-friendly nail polish shades for summer?
I LOVE Orly Bon-Bon this summer! It’s a creamy lilac that I used on Amanda Bynes for the cover of Seventeen and the cover of Harpers Bazaar International.
Spa Ritual Alive. This is Sophia Bush’s favorite color.
Orly Passion Fruit is so fun! A very bright pink, perfect for the girls who are bringing back the 80′s!
Priti Cornflower. It’s that perfect Navy everyone’s raving about!
Zoya Elodie. Such an incredible blend of pink and orange tones. You will get compliments everywhere you go!

And just for fun…
If you weren’t a manicurist you would be…

A photo agent once again. I loved everything about it…. I just make more money doing nails!

What was the last nail polish shade you wore on your tips? on your toes?
The last time I had my nails painted was for my wedding. Funny enough, I chose “One Night Stand” from Orly’s Divorcee collection. Ha! Isn’t that ironic?

Share with us a great nail moment from your career.
Oh, goodness. I’m so thankful for all my experiences. Working with Jessica Alba has got to be my favorite though! She’s just been so amazing over the past year. I can’t even begin to tell the world how much I love and appreciate her. She often has me over to her house for mani/pedi’s along with her hairstylist, Robert Ramos, his assistant Christopher, and her makeup artist, Lauren Anderson. We have such a great time getting Jessica ready for whatever event she has that day. It was really weird though when paparazzi started taking pictures of me leaving her house! I just ran to my car as fast as I could because I wasn’t expecting that at all!

I want to thank Jenna Hipp for taking the time to share her passion and stories with all of us. It was a pleasure. You can check out Jenna’s work on her website, And for more info on the nail brands Jenna discussed click on the links in the “Nail Polish Links” section.

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  1. Happy Earth Day! Here are 10 of my all-time fave eco beauty finds | April 22, 2013
  1. Anonymous says:

    Enjoyed the post of Jenna Hipp. Nice change and interesting.

  2. Hanneri says:

    Thank you for a great interview. I really enjoyed reading this post from beginning to end. I’m looking forward to many more interesting interviews!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I live in Los Angeles, is it possible to get a manicure by jenna or does she only do celebs? Thanks for the interview!

  4. jdbsusanna says:

    Great interview. I definitely need to give SpaRitual a try now.

    But it can’t be good for Jessica Alba (or anyone else) to keep her nail varnish in the car. Cars get so hot in the sun — surely that negatively affects the varnish and the quality of the manicure.

  5. CincyFan says:

    Thanks everyone! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Anon #2 – It certainly doesn’t hurt to ask. There is contact info on her website. Please let us know if you end up working something out.

  6. BeautyChick101 says:

    What a fantastic interview. I loved reading about all of Jenna’s must-haves — I can’t wait to try out all the polishes she mentioned!

  7. Christine says:

    I love hearing her perspective on all of the great nail products I already love! Thanks for a great interview! Keep up the great work!

  8. saysitopipi says:

    I might just have to try Elodie now. I am currently waiting my other Zoya nail polishes, I guess if I like them that will be on the list.

  9. Andie says:

    cool post! i thought Orly had toulene in it? does that make it not green? or did they revamp their formula too…

  10. CincyFan says:

    Andie – that was the case with Orly but now they are 3 Free. You can see which brands are here:

  11. anonymous says:

    Don’t you have to be licensed to do nails?