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If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is...

As a student living mostly off Cup Noodles and free Whole Foods tasters, any time I see a sneaky deal or a cheap offer, I’m always the first to go for it. I also love cheap clothes, and having my nails look nice and shiny, so I’m going to be the first to put my hands up and say that I’ve shopped at Forever 21 and gotten a cheap manicure many times since moving to New York City.

But just like the synthetic material in my $2 tank top that’s starting to itch, getting cheap deals is beginning to not feel quite so great. 

Last week The New York Times published an article revealing the appalling working conditions of hundreds of nail salon workers in New York City. The Times discovered that 75 percent of New York manicurists earn less than minimum wage, with only about a quarter of the 150 salon workers they interviewed saying they were paid the New York State’s minimum hourly wage.

The working and living conditions of the women they interviewed were extraordinarly poor, and if we are looking for a reason why, unfortunately it all lies in the cost of the service. The average price of a manicure in New York City is $10.50, but a low price, as exciting as it seems, almost always has consequences. 

The issue of who is really paying for our cheap price tags was raised a few months ago when John Oliver made this amazing video addressing the true consequences of the fashion industry’s cheap clothing. 

The way John sees it, the issue is simple - in order to sell clothes cheaply, you have to sell a lot of them, meaning you have to make them quickly and cost-effectively. Very often, cost effective clothing comes as a result of horrific child labor and terrible working conditions. 
Just like a Big Mac or an episode of Real Housewives, getting a cheap deal on clothing or a beauty treatment can feel really good at the time. But it almost always leaves a bad taste in your mouth afterwards. We have to remember that if the price of something just seems too good to be true, it probably is, and it’s really important to do as much as we can to try and find out where our products are coming from, and if whether anyone is being hurt in the process. 

*For all of the New Yorkers out there, several blogs and publications have come out with lists of  "ethical" nail salons that are safe to visit, like this one from New York Racked.