Beauty, City Guides, Makeup

Best Nail Art Salons in NYC

best nail art salons in nycNail 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:

best nail art nyc akiko nails-1

Akiko NailsLower 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.


 

best nail art nyc marie nails

Marie Nails: Nolita and SoHo

166 Elizabeth St & 155 Prince St
Best for: 3D Nail Art, no frills atmosphere
Founded in Japan, Marie Nails now has multiple locations, including LA and NYC. Though there are two salons in New York (and within walking distance, at just over a half mile apart), I haven’t been to their SoHo location. What you should know about their Nolita location: it’s below a hair salon, and you have to enter through there to get to the salong. Don’t expect a fancy, relaxing spa experience. This is a barebones, literally-in-a-basement situation. What I love about them: the 3D nail art! Mine is very tame, but check out this dreamy combination. I also find that though still not inexpensive, they are on the more affordable side for most nail art. Plus, they’re in the neighborhood of so many of my favorite food spots. FYI: Appointments can only be made over the phone, and they have a credit card minimum.

 

best nail art nyc paintbox

Paintbox: 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.


best nail art nyc

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.

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17 comments

  1. Great list. if I could afford Valley, I’d go all the time. I go to Vanity Projects when their nail specials are good ones because they’re only $40 but it’s not often that I’m interested in the special. I love Akiko as well but again, it’s just too expensive for me.

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    • I still have to try Vanity! I usually reserve nail art for special occasions or when I’m traveling for an extended period of time, since it’s pretty expensive. However, since I never get regular manicures, it feels like it evens out!

  2. @weliveonludlow says:

    Make it a point to go to Vanity Projects especially if you are into Akiko as there is some overlap of and with the artists. For siiiick nails look to spifster at vanity when she is in town you won’t regret it.

  3. My friend Michelle works the front desk at PaintBox – I’ll have to tell her you recommended them! She’s from Florida too, and also has a Minnie Mouse obsession… if you recognize her next time you go in (her IG is michellebot) ask to see her Minnie cupcake tattoo!

    • I don’t mind doing my nails, but I’m the worst with allowing them enough time to properly dry! I’m so impatient.