Nowadays we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to what we can have adorning our nails. These are the Stylist beauty team’s favourite spots in London for the best quality nail art around.
It seems like there’s a new nail art trend every week, be it mix and match pastels or tortoiseshell talons. We’re not mad about it - far from it, actually, because what it means is that we can pick and choose from endless designs and even get inspiration from everyday items (fern leaf print, anyone?).
The Stylist beauty team have visited every one of the below London salons to trial their nail art abilities, with some becoming our default go-to havens once a month, including some new ethical salon finds. Book yourself in and prepare to become perpetually distracted by your nails - as well as reaping in all the compliments. The world will literally be at your fingertips…
AMA The Salon
A total fashion-industry and celebrity favourite (we’re talking Solange and Adwoah-level), owner Ama Quashie’s intimate space in the heart of her native Brixton is like no other. With smooth leather chairs, neon signs, embroidered Missy Elliot quotes, and beautifully empowering art, it feels like a soulful lounge. “A lot of nail salons are crisp and clinical, but I think having somewhere to truly relax and be inspired by at the same time is what we all need,” Quashie tells Stylist.
And about the nails: be prepared for tips that make such a statement without crossing into tacky territory, including a really chic zebra print and the best tortoiseshell we’ve seen around. If you want to go back to basics, then their signature Naked Mani show off the natural nail in all its glory, and all their standard polish is toxic-free.
Plus, to celebrate the salon’s first birthday, Ama has launched a charity nail art menu in collaboration with stylist Julia Sarr Jamois, hair stylist Ali Pirzadeh (pictured below), design studio Studio Moross and online community Gurls Talk. Each of them has designed their own nail look, and £5 from each £55 treatment will be donated to High Trees, while the money from the Gurls Talk design will be donated to Free Periods.
You have to try: Tortoiseshell Gel Nail Art, from £15 extra
From £5 extra for nail art, amathesalon.com
Nails and Brows Mayfair
As Meghan Markle’s go-to brow designer, Sherille Riley knows how to master effortless chic. Her Mayfair salon is a haven of white and marble with an impeccable team of technicians (no rough cuticle pushing here) who master normal manicures and detailed sophisticated gel nail art alike.
“I wanted to create a space for busy, working women to be able to pop in to without having to commit to an appointment, but still have a luxury experience that’s speedy but not rushed,” Riley tells Stylist. And it’s exactly that. Choose from brands like Essie, CND, or organic Kure Bazaar.
You have to try: Gold Kissed Manicure with 24 Carat Gold Leaf, £69
From £21 for nail art, nailsandbbrows.me
Imarni Nails is known as the go-to for custom nail art that knows no boundaries. Their menu is their entire Instagram page, which is bound to steal your entire lunch break as you endlessly scroll. Located in the Shoreditch’s hotspot Curtain Hotel, the salon is a space to watch magical creations take place on your nails as they play all your favourite R&B songs, past and present.
You have to try: Anything ombre
Nail art from £40, imarninails.com
In the middle of bustling Dalston lies a crystal and sage-filled sanctuary that also happens to host one of the best nail artists around. Emmi Virta gets booked up fast for her impossibly intricate hand and magical creations, including delicate fern leaves, rose quartz, and inky blue evil eyes. The entire salon is toxic-free, including Gel Bottle gel polish and Kure Bazaar.
The space itself is calm and quiet, with displays of beautiful jade rollers and eco-friendly hair and body tools available to buy. Sip on herbal tea and watch the city carry on without you past the glass doors.
You have to try: Anything detailed
Nail art from £3 per nail, £69 for a full set, still-london.com
House of Lady Muck
If you’re hitting Topshop on Oxford Street for a payday splurge, then definitely drop in to House of Lady Muck (HOLM) for a fantastic mani, then show it off against their pretty pink flower wall. Started by former fashion buyer Laura Southern, the salon excels in pastel French tips to cool stripes and dots, they take simple nail art up by several levels.
You have to try: the lightning bolts
Nail art from £2 per nail and from £10 for a full set, houseofladymuck.com.
DryBy’s the destination for those who like their nail art nude or understated. Their central London salon offers blow dries on the top floor, and a cosy basement studio underneath with huge armchairs and pillows for pedis. Choose from rose gold accents, intricate palm trees and hearts, or take advantage of their luxe deep winter shades – and if you’re getting married, they have a special bridal menu that’s super cute.
You have to try: The bridal menu – even if a wedding’s nowhere in your near future.
Nail art at £53 for one accent nail, or £78 for a full set (both including complete gel mani), dryby.com
Image: Imarni Nails
Ava Welsing-Kitcher is Stylist’s junior beauty writer and resident curly girl. She’s addicted to lip balm (who isn’t?!), wearing eyeshadow as blush and lipstick and all things hair.