Nail art is one of my favorite, not-so-guilty-pleasures. I’ll paint my own nails if I want something plain; if I’m going to the salon, I’m gonna go all out. There are so many nail art salons in NYC, and readers are always asking me for tips on where to go. Though there are several I want to check out (Vanity Project, for instance!) or those I haven’t been to in awhile and need to revisit before adding them in (Sakura, Primp & Polish), I made a short list of my top four favorites and why I keep going back. Keep reading for a list of the best nail art salons in NYC:
Akiko Nails: Lower East Side
137 Rivington Street
Best for: complex nail art
Akiko’s Japanese nail art is the cream of the crop. Just check out their gallery for an idea of what they can do…it’s mindblowing! I’ve been to both Tak and Leezy, who are easily some of the most talented nail artists I’ve ever seen. Tak did this gradient glitter rainbow and made it look so effortless, despite how incredibly meticulous he was with every detail. It’s a tiny but streamlined salon (as in, it doesn’t feel cramped at all), so make sure you make an appointment in advance. If you’re flexible during the week, that’s always a good option for a last minute booking. Base price is $40 for gel and $3-$10 per nail for any nail art, depending on its complexity. Call or email to make an appointment.
Marie Nails: Nolita and SoHo
17 Crosby Street
Best for: minimalist nail designs
(photo taken from their instagram)
Paintbox is a modern manicure studio (no pedicures!) that offers seasonal design menus, which is perfect for the indecisive patron or someone who is looking to dip their toes in the nail art pond. Try not to stray from their menu, or you’ll pay extra…even if it’s a slight deviation. Don’t go here for intricate nail art — this is not the place for that. I often recommend this spot for out-of-town visitors, due to its location and overall atmosphere, which is very chic. It’s spacious enough for a girl’s treat-yo-self outing, and the nail art photo booth is the icing on the instagrammable cake. I love their online booking feature, as I like to avoid talking on the phone [to strangers] at all costs. Am I the only person who didn’t order delivery until seamless was invented? I get weird anxiety when making appointments or giving my order over the phone.
Valley Nails: Nolita and Chelsea
198 Elizabeth Street & 237 West 15th Street
Best for: easy online booking, last minute nail art appointments, Silvia!
It’s been years since I’ve been to the Nolita location, but I’ve gone to their Chelsea location more times than I can remember. My go-to nail artist is Silvia, whose gel manicures literally last me two months, because I’m gross and sometimes am so lazy that I let them grow out that long. Their online booking is great, since you can choose the service, time, technician, location, etc…but most of their negative reviews seem to revolve around the confusion that this causes. They only offer “gel manicure with 15 minute nail art” as their max option, so you have to call and make sure you let them know you need more time, if you’re planning on anything complex. This will also cost you more, and Valley is on the pricier side, in my opinion. HOWEVER! Silvia (and I’ve seen others do great work, too, but I’m a loyalist) is worth the money. I mean, look at that Disney nail art! She’s very skilled, her manicures last, and I can almost always get in for an appointment. For these reasons, I find myself at Valley more often than not, which is an automatic add to my best nail art salons in NYC. Other pluses: one of their receptionists is the absolute sweetest, they give you delicious cinnamon tea, there is a wall of glitter to choose from, and it’s down the street from Empire Bakery, my favorite. Helpful note: their instagram usually hashtags the artists, so you can click through and pick your favorite.