Now that nail salons have reopened, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to what we can have adorning our fingertips. 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 60s-inspired swirls 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, including some ethical salon finds.
Now that nail salons are open again, 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 us.
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.
You have to try: Tortoiseshell Gel Nail Art, £25 extra
From £17 extra for nail art, see the full treatment menu at amathesalon.com.
Nails and Brows Mayfair
Sherille Riley knows how to master effortless chic. In fact, she was Meghan Markle’s go-to brow designer when Markle lived in London. Riley’s 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,” says Riley. 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
From £21 for nail art, see the full treatment menu at nailsandbbrows.me.
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.
Tailored nail art from £5 per nail, £65 for a full tailored set. See the full treatment menu at still-london.com.
House of Lady Muck
If you’re a fan of intricate nail art, 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 uses vegan gels and excels in pastel French tips to cool stripes and dots. They take simple nail art up by several levels.
You have to try: abstract swirls.
From £45 for a full set of nail art, see the full treatment menu at 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. So cute, in fact, Meghan Markle chose DryBy to do her wedding nails.
You have to try: The bridal menu – even if a wedding’s nowhere in your near future.
From £17 extra for nail art. See the full treatment menu at on DryBy’s Instagram.
With salons in Shoreditch and Dalston (which also offers waxing), Shoreditch Nails is all about fun, creative and detail-focused nail art. The treatment menu covers a wide range of designs, from polka dots, French tips and inverted V’s to half moons, glitter tips and (our favourite) confetti tips. And that’s not all. The salon also offers at-home nail art courses to help you brush up on your painting skills from your sofa.
You have to try: confetti tips.
From £3 for extra nail art or from £45 for a full polish set of nail art. See full treatment menu at shoreditchnails.com.
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