If the runways and red carpet are any indication, nail art is proving to be more than just a passing trend—it’s here to stay. We’re not talking about crazy, unwearable bubble nails or 3-D styles (though they’re totally fun for another occasion), but gorgeous, sophisticated looks that amp up your wedding day ensemble without distracting from your look. New York City is bursting with hundreds of salons on every corner that do a fair job at creating a classic mani, but if you’re on the hunt for a manicurist that can whip up something a little more special, here are the five nail art places in NYC that, well, truly nail it.
Van Court Studio
90 Water Street, Floor 2
Following the aftermath of the New York Times exposé last year that shed light on the hazardous work environments of many nail salons, the brand-new Van Court Studio is dubbing itself the “healthiest nail care destination of New York City.” And clearly, they're living up to their word: There’s a state-of-the-art ventilation and purification system (aka the salon doesn't have fumes), medical grade autoclaves to sterilize tools (the same ones you can find at a doctor's office) and tankless pedicure bowls that don’t trap bacteria. As far as the treatments itself, they’re done with scrubs and oils made from natural ingredients that are practically safe enough to eat, and carefully chosen natural polishes from Deborah Lippmann, Ginger + Liz, Londontown and RGB. Needless to say you won't find gels or UV light machines here. A basic manicure is $40 and you can choose from one of their 16 nail art designs for an extra $35. Bonus? The nail techs are amazing, too, and the staff mostly consists of freelancers who work with celebs and backstage at Fashion Week, so they know the tricks of the trade to make your regular nail polish last.
JINsoon Hand & Foot Spa
Multiple NYC locations
An appointment at one of celebrity manicurist Jin Soon Choi’s intimate salons is more than a beauty treatment—it’s like a therapy session. Soak in the calming wood décor that feels like you’re at a destination spa rather than the East Village, sip on complimentary hot tea and chat with Jin Soon who frequents each of her salons on a regular basis (she’s probably one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet). Then, there are the manicurists themselves: Each of the nail technicians are mentored by Jin Soon and her high level of nail artistry. Jin Soon is minimalist when it comes to nail designs, but you will find something interesting like negative nail art to cool interpretations of a French mani that’s equally bridal and on trend. On top of Jin Soon’s own namesake polish line, the salon offers luxe brands like Chanel, Tom Ford, Givenchy and MAC as well as cult-favorite lines like OPI and Essie—pick one, or mix and match.
Two NYC locations
Modern lighting, brick walls and the casual vibe score major points with the cool-girl crowd. An extra 15 minutes is all it takes for a basic nail art design, like glittery ombré, or a statement on just one or two of your nails (which are free). For inspiration on what types of designs their nail techs can accomplish within 15 minutes, check out the simple and sweet styles using #valley15. If a more elaborate wedding day nail look is what you’re after, discover the possibilities with a longer, 60-minute nail art session by browsing #valley60. Your gel nails will last weeks, they promise, but if it happens to chip within seven days, they’ll fix it for free.
17 Crosby Street
Founded by former beauty editor Eleanor Langston, Paintbox is SoHo’s manicure-only destination with a unique approach to guiding you through the often confusing world of nail art. Once you get to there, you’ll be greeted with a glass of champagne, tea or water as you flip through their seasonal lookbook and pick out one of the 20-25 curated editorial designs created by celebrity manicurist and Paintbox Creative Director Julie Kandalec. While the gel designs themselves aren’t super customizable (they artists are trained to recreate the exact lookbook styles), you can swap out the colors to make sure it fits your wedding vibe. Competitive prices ($35 for polish and $65 for gels that last over two weeks), a spacious location that you can even rent out for bachelorettes and a fun mani cam for nail art selfies all keep us coming back for more.
Multiple NYC locations
At this Fashion Week mainstay, the concept behind TenOverTen caters to what New Yorkers appreciate the most: Reliability, convenience and speed. No matter which technician you choose, a signature mani, which includes nail shaping, cuticle care, a hydrating hand massage and, of course, polish, will be done with OCD-level perfection in just 25 minutes. Plus, easy-to-get-to locations in Midtown, TriBeCa, SoHo and their newest one in FiDi make it less stressful to squeeze in an appointment during your lunch break. Tack on a few extra minutes should you decide to do a subtle nail art design and the technicians will take extra care to make sure it lasts as long as possible using good-for-you nail brands like RGB and their own five-free line.