The best nail salons in NYC

Dull, minimalistic manicures are so last year. Get your digits decked out at NYC's most popular nail-art salons.

Photograph: Courtesy PaintBox

New Yorkers may have too much on their hands, but since the city is chock-full of the best nail salons in the world, there’s no excuse for those digits to go unpolished. And since your brows are always "on fleek" thanks to the best brow bars in NYC, your nails should be on-point too. There are plenty of spas in NYC that offer simple manicures, but if you’re antibasic, book an appointment at one of the top nail-art joints in NYC. We’ve mapped out the cool-girl bargain and splurgeworthy spots owned by a few trend-setting New York Fashion week mainstays, as well as some of the most artistically talented manicurists in the world. Because while we can appreciate a good DIY, encrusting your beds with rhinestones and gems is a job better suited for the pros, right?

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Spas in NYC

The best nail salons in NYC

Delacqua Salon

If you want highly detailed and unique nail art, this one-of-a kind spa and salon is top-notch. Enter the kitschy tri-level space, which boasts red leather pedicure stations and leopard-print chairs, and enjoy a gratis tea or coffee while one of the manicurists prepares a nonacrylic LCN resin for your beds. The liquid sets under a heat lamp for a few minutes and turns into hard nonporous nails ($120 for LCN natural nail lengths, $130 for LCN tips). Once the canvas is prepped, the technician will apply 3-D effects like gel flowers and crystals ($10 per nail) or hand-paint abstract prints ($5–$10 per nail) using skinny brushes and special LCN gel nail polish. The salon can also apply any nail art onto a basic manicure ($18).

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Jin Soon

Famous manicurist Jin Soon Choi is a nail guru and a Fashion Week mainstay, with her own kick-ass line of polishes to boot. And when it comes to mastering art trends, Choi’s designs totally nail it (pun intended). If you want flawless fingers that are begging for a glossy-magazine close-up, book an appointment at any of her three locations in the city. The exacting technicians will file, shape, buff and paint your nails into a modern masterpiece that’s totally MoMA-worthy ($18–$55).

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Lenox Hill

Paintbox

Consider yourself a nail-art skeptic? Prepare to be converted! This Soho nail studio created by veteran beauty editor Eleanor Langston features a beverage bar with champagne and Grady’s Cold Brew, a curated selection of 50 on-trend lacquer colors (manicures start at $35), iPhone chargers at each of its 18 stations and a seasonal menu of nail-art designs—think peekaboo manis in hypersaturated hues ($55)—by celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec. One note: Paintbox doesn’t do pedicures, so head elsewhere to put the shine on your toes.

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Soho

Primp & Polish

Don't be intimidated by the high-end vibe of this salon: Despite the luxe interior, more than 400 polish colors from brands like Essie, OPI and Chanel, and plush leather drying stations, its basic nail services cost about the same as your run-of-the-mill neighborhood parlor. Settle in at the high, illuminated counter for a manicure ($15), or opt for a pedicure ($27) in the leather-massage-chair-laden section. When it comes to snazzy nail effects, Primp & Polish does it all, and you can stop in without an appointment for services including Minx stickers ($7 per nail) and 3-D nail art ($4–$10 per nail). But for a hand-painted creation by head nail art guru Kieu Bui, you'll need to call ahead and book an appointment.

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Williamsburg

Pure Nail Salon

Though this minimalist salon has been a Clinton Hill staple for seven years, Calgel manicures ($30) are a recent addition to the lineup of services, which includes basic manicures ($7) and pedicures ($15). The Calgel-based nail art, which includes glitter gradations ($40) and embellishments such as rhinestones and tiny fruit decals ($2 per nail), features some of the most understated—and affordable—options we've encountered, making this spot perfect for nail-art newbies. For those who are slightly more advanced, Pure also offers Minx pre-patterned manicures for $50.

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Clinton Hill

Sakura

This Japanese chain is so sleek that a couple once walked in, took a seat at the cushion-adorned tables and asked to see a food menu. But the only thing the spa is serving is nail art—and tons of it. Start with a basic manicure using solid-hued Calgel ($50) or regular lacquer ($15), or opt for add-ons such as glitter ($3 per nail), free-form painted designs ($5–$20 per nail) and rhinestones ($1 per gem). The well-trained technicians can do just about anything from leopard spots to ombré styles, but you can get inspiration by flipping through Japanese nail-art magazines (just one of the supplies imported from Japan every month) while sipping complimentary tea.

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East Village

Martier

This subterranean spa (hidden in the basement of a posh women's boutique) is perhaps the city's best-kept nail art secret. Co-owner Yukie Natori oversees a staff of artists who can execute anything from a simple application of OPI's crackle-inducing Shatter lacquer ($14) to crazy complex manicures encrusted with dozens of genuine jewels and precious stones ($10 per nail). Though the spa offers heat-adhered Minx patterns ($60), the technicians like to work with Bio Sculpture Gel, a soak-off brand that has more than 170 high-gloss colors to choose from. The gel is most commonly used for chip-resistant, long-lasting manicures ($40) but also to create intricate free-form painted designs (from $5 per finger) and 3-D nail art (from $5 per finger) that ranges from petite doughnuts to full-blown teddy bears noshing on carrots.

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Midtown East

Tomahawk Salon

If you start looking at nail artist Fleury Rose's Tumblr site (fleuryrosenails.tumblr.com), chances are you'll still be scrolling half an hour later. Rose was obsessed with nails as a kid, studied at art school and then moved to Bushwick, where she now works by appointment only at Tomahawk Salon. Score an appointment and choose from an array of vibrant polishes by American Apparel, Essie and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics. After applying a regular manicure, Rose paints on her free-form designs in acrylic paint (starts at $55) but FYI: She loves a challenge. If you have an edgy, off-the-wall design in mind, she’ll turn your beds into her canvas.

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Williamsburg

Valley NYC

Sisters Nina and Julia Werman opened this Cali-inspired nail-salon-cum-waxing-studio to offer a quaint, laid-back space in which to get primped and pampered. Choose a basic (but spiffy) mani ($30) and pedi ($45) that both include an exfoliating salt scrub and moisturizing massage. But the real draw here is the extensive selection of elaborate nail creations. Since opening its first salon in 2006, the joint has become known for its edgy art, attracting celeb clients (Katy Perry) and well-known designers (Betsey Johnson) for its fashion-forward creations. Beyond the typical offerings of glitter, flowers and rhinestones, the skilled technicians can create 3-D acrylic embellishments ($10–$20 per nail), piercings ($7 per nail, which includes a reusable charm) and pretty much any custom design you can imagine ($10 and up per nail).

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Nolita

Vanity Projects

Art curator and licensed nail technician Rita de Alencar Pinto spent years doing intricate nail art at events such as Brooklyn Museum’s Artists Ball 2013 and during a residency at MoMA PS1, which is why her salon is a gallerylike space featuring four manicure stations, two pedicure chairs and video-art installations projected on the walls. Grab a pair of wireless headphones for listening to the videos, and sit back to enjoy a manicure ($30–$40), pedicure ($40–$80) or nail art ($30 and up). There are currently four artists on staff: Raquel Nevarez, who can illustrate anything from sight; Mr. Luis, whose specialty is pointed talons ($100–$150); Miku Tsutaya, who creates super-long Harajuku looks ($100–$150); and Jane Weiner, whose hand-painted designs of Daria and Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree have earned her the No. 12 spot in the country by Nails Magazine.

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Lower East Side

Comments

7 comments
Mae M
Mae M

All these places are great, but Akiko Nail in Greenwich Village is REALLY great too for great purposes! I booked my appointment using LookBooker and my nails came out amazing! Book on www.lookbooker.co and you can completely book the appointment without having to call!

Sui P
Sui P

@Mae M I book my nail appointments on LookBooker too! So obsessed with it, it makes it so much easier (they have a bunch of nail places all through lower Manhattan!)

Jin H
Jin H

Ah. so that's the best nail salons in New York! I would love to try them once but my budget won't allow me now. I'm based in Hongkong. For manicure, spa in hong kong, I go to Flawless HK.
http://www.flawless.hk.com/. You guys should try their service when you go here.

Jennifer
Jennifer

If these salons aren't in your area companies like Nailed Cosmetics offer English/Vietnamese how to kits for Glitter Acrylic Nails at any nail salon. They're cheap too.