It won't take long to fall in love with the subject of Painted Nails, Van Hoang, a Vietnamese nail salon owner who serves an ethnically diverse group of working class women with acrylic nails and intricate airbrush designs. Through the course of the film, Van unintentionally becomes a contemporary Norma Rae or Erin Brockovich. Painted Nails brings us unprecedented insight into the personal nature of the political movement to regulate one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. Major loopholes in the federal law dating back to 1938 allow the 50-billion-dollar cosmetics industry to put unlimited amounts of chemicals into personal care products with no required testing, monitoring of health effects, or labeling requirements.
The salon Van owns with her husband feels like a second home, but she is hesitant for her daughter to spend time there, fearing the adverse effects of product chemicals. Van herself suffers from headaches, memory loss, and has had trouble bringing other pregnancies to term, but continues to work morning until night every day. Determined to make her salon a safer place, Van takes her story to Washington D.C. and becomes one of the first to testify for safe cosmetics in over 30 years. In front of the congressional and environmental protection agency staff and the opposing cosmetic industry, Van advocates for the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act with testimony marked by tears she fights to keep back. Replete with tender yet insightful moments, Painted Nails strips the polish from an issue that touches anyone who uses personal care products.
If you are a student or a professor:Watch now
If you are a librarian or a professor: