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Story time: I had recently finished university and was slogging away at at an art gallery over the summer while my friends were running around the world ‘finding themselves’ before they signed on to become corporate slaves. It had been a particularly hard day at work and my go-to was to get a manicure. There’s something about getting your hands cleaned, massaged and your nails treated as if they were the most precious things ever created by God. If you don’t feel better after a glass of wine and some new glossy talons, the next step is medication. Jokes aside, I’ve put together the best nail salons for every kind of person in London. I’ve experienced each one personally and they all have a distinct vibe and brand that’s bound to suit you – whether you’re into statement nails, want the latest Instagram nail art trend or all about finding your custom look.
image via Nail’d It London Instagram
For that girly girl that’s just aching to be released, find your sparkly outlet here. The salon has four branches all over London but my preferred one is their boutique space at Duck and Dry in Oxford Circus. It’s no surprise that it boasts over 80k followers on Instagram, because nail trends from holographic to chrome and foils are available at Nail’d It.
What to get: unicorn nails (£35)! It’s peachy micro glitter layered on top of gel polish, giving it an iridescent shimmering effect that lasts longer than the holographic.
image via Wah Nails Instagram
If you’re sassy and you know it… WAH Nails is where to go. Think neon and custom designs in rainbow hues, basically it’s Ru Paul’s Drag Race for your hands. Its flagship proudly resides in Soho and plays host to beauty pop ups throughout the year.
What to get: book in with Anouska, who is killer at any kind of nail art (£30-70) – even portraits.
image via Dryby London Instagram
For those minimalists with a creative streak, Dryby London is all about those city girls that want a signature look. Specialising in subtle and on-trend nail art, this beauty salon (they do hair too!) has even collaborated with beauty director Alessandra Steinherr of Glamour magazine last year, on a range of Instagrammable pink and red designs. It may come as no surprise that they’re a lot more expensive than the other manicures on this list, starting at £40 for a full manicure.
What to get: Shellac with a design fit for the runway (£48+).
image via Shoreditch Nails Instagram
If you’re into clean and natural beauty, you’ll find solace in Shoreditch Nails, a sweet salon tucked away in Cleve Workshops, a row of rustic shacks in a mews. Here, the girls really take their time to perfect your manicure and it’s like hanging out at your friend’s place more than getting pampered at a salon.
What to get: their manicures lasts longer than most I’ve tried (£34-52) – go for your favourite colour with one of their popular dots or lines designs, and take a snap against their millennial pink tiles!
images shot by @dirtyyydan for Rosewood London
Step out of the tourists’ view of London and you’ll find an endless supply of local manicurists that remind you of that one from Legally Blonde. Sometimes it’s preferable to relax while you’re giving your hands a makeover, instead of worrying about being seen or having to look nice. I used to go to Nail Lounge when I was working in the city/East London and it was like, the only thing that made being in that area bearable.
What to get: full set gel extensions and nothing less (£35).
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