Nails and non-profits with Ashleigh Alli

Ashleigh Alli, founder of vegan nail polish brand ASHE London, talks about looking good while doing good.

Ashleigh Alli

ASHE London creates nail formulas which are vegan, long-lasting and on trend. The brand is black-owned, female-led and committed to diversity and social change, founded by Ashleigh Alli in 2021. 

Ashleigh began her career as a nail technician to successful women and inspired by her clients, went back into education and qualified as a commercial lawyer. Alongside running ASHE London, Ashleigh is a legal diversity consultant working to increase inclusion, diversity, and representation within the legal and beauty industries.

5% of all profits are donated to Bloody Good Period, who are fighting for global menstrual equality.
5% of all profits go to Cianna’s Smile, a charity supporting individuals suffering from Sickle Cell Disease.

What’s the difference between a vegan nail polish and a traditional nail polish?

To create more vibrant colours, for example, like our shades Phillis or Adelaide, typically cosmetics companies rely on animal testing, or ingredients such as fish scales or insects to produce shimmer or a similar level of intensity. Many market leaders are still using animal derived products to create their nail products. Vegan nail colours, like ours, replace these animal derived products with things like vegetal biomass.


Sometimes less is more – ASHE London polishes are released in seasonal collections that are carefully designed and curated by a small London-based team.

With a formula that is kind to the planet, every colour is 84% bio-sourced and has 77% natural origin.

Made with a formula that utilises ‘Go Green Technology’ which, inspired by nature, partially replaces conventional petrochemical solvents, plasticizers and nitrocellulose with vegetal biomass and natural, renewable resources. These ingredients are transformed in a greener process that reduces their environmental footprint.

What’s your favourite nail trend so far this year?

I definitely love nail art and there are some amazing nail techs out there that are truly incredible when it comes to this, but my favourite look will always be a block colour. So for me, the recent “clean aesthetic” was a winner. Minimal manicures with a base of neatly groomed cuticles and nails finished off with pastel colours to show off clean, healthy nails. This will never go out of fashion for me!

What’s your go-to colour and why?

I’m definitely someone who picks a colour based off of my mood or the occasion (as opposed to the season) so will switch it up a lot depending on what I have on. My day-to-day colour though is called Mary and Mildred (we name all of our colours after people who have made change in the world and this one is named after sisters Mary and Mildred, an inventor and an opera singer, whose inventions improved the quality of life for women all over the world). It’s a soft dusky pink and I’m yet to see a skin tone that it doesn’t suit.

With a cost-of-living crisis, DIY beauty is on the rise. What are your top three tips for a flawless at-home manicure?

Cuticle oil, cuticle oil, cuticle oil! If you only do one thing, make sure you use cuticle oil every day! Applying oil daily helps stimulate nail growth, hydrates the cuticle and gives you the best base to work from to create your at home manicure. So, my first tip is to use oil.

Secondly, always use a base and top coat. The base will form a protective barrier over the nail and helps stop any staining and discolouration and gives the colour something to stick to. The top coat will seal in the colour and help it to last longer.

Finally, when you’re applying a colour, start with a stripe down the middle of the nail and then brush down the left side and then the right hand side. Keep your brush as flat as possible and only have paint on one side of the brush – don’t overload it as it will end up all over the cuticles.

The main tip is just to have fun with it. You don’t have to be perfect at painting nails, you can enjoy the process and see it as a little bit of self-care. Paint them while you’re listening to a podcast or music and just switch off for a bit. That’s probably four tips but, they’re all important!

What are your thoughts on the ‘malepolish’ phenomenon?

I love it! I love that we’re seeing more men embrace nail varnish, I’m only sad it’s taken so long as I’m sure there are lots of people who have wanted to wear nail varnish but felt they couldn’t. Maybe now with the rise in ‘malepolish’ people will feel more comfortable to wear nail varnish, regardless of gender. Our colours are designed to be worn by everyone, regardless of age, gender or skin tone and our imagery is inclusive and celebrates everyone. I have two young boys (aged five and two) and they both wear nail varnish all the time. I want them to grow up and it not be a phenomenon that they wear nail varnish, but it just be the norm. 

Your brand’s ethos states: We believe beauty should do more than make us look good. What does this message mean to you?

I mean this really holistically. At every stage of our process, we try to create beautiful colours that people love whilst also doing good in other ways – from our formula being vegan and us giving back to the amazing charities we work with, to working with female owned business to stock our products. Everything from our packaging to the diverse images that we use to represent ASHE should be creating change in some way.

Recently, there’s been reports of gel polishes triggering allergies. What advice would you to prevent or avoid this?

I think the most important thing is to have gel polish applied by a professional. A lot of the reports are talking specifically about at-home gel products. Good nail technicians are trained and can advise on your suitability for gels – you will usually have a consultation at the beginning of your first appointment that asks lots of questions about your health and any allergies etc. Stick to air dry nail varnish at home!

Shop ASHE London

ASHE London Vivien

ASHE London Vivien, £15

ASHE London Ashbourne

ASHE London Ashbourne, £15

ASHE London Brittan Brown

ASHE London Brittan Brown, £15

ASHE London Olive Morris

ASHE London Olive Morris, £15

ASHE London Phillis

ASHE London Phillis, £15

Shop ASHE London at ashelondon.com

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