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The Nail Art Shakedown

In the name of investigative journalism, four of our intrepid reporters raise their hands for nail art

By Time Out editors

From likenesses of your favourite pet to burgers you've loved, you can get nearly anything painted on your digits these days. Nail art became popular in the ’80s and ’90s, but it was also super tacky (hello, claw hands). Luckily, things have progressed since then, and Melbourne has embraced the nail art revival, hard. But does one nail art salon hold the upper hand? 

For more pampering and primping, visit our guides to Melbourne's best massages and waxing salons.

Half-moon nail art from Miss Fox
Graham Denholm

If you like old world glamour, try Miss Fox

3 out of 5 stars
Health and beauty Spas Melbourne

Rose says: "It goes without saying that my manicure was perfect (I went for vintage half-moons and crimson nails). The salon smelled like flowers and made me feel like I was about to model for Vogue. However, being in the heart of the CBD, the salon caters for the suited and booted crew – some whom may have lost touch with how much things cost in the outside world. My nails cost about three times the amount I’d ever feel comfortable paying ordinarily. For that price, I'd have liked a longer hand massage! Luxury’s guaranteed at Miss Fox – as is a fab result – but be prepared to spend big."

Visit Miss Fox at Levels 1-3, 285 Little Collins St, Melbourne. We paid: $120 for manicure and half moon finish.

Nail art at Tips and Toes
Graham Denholm

If you want bang for you buck, try Tips and Toes

2 out of 5 stars
Shopping Carlton

Emily says: "To be fair, Tips and Toes is known for its quick manis, not nail art. Knowing there’d be limitations, I went for something minimal with a bit of sparkle (a French manicure and a bit of bling). It’s pretty kitsch in here, what with the bright pink walls and plastic chandeliers, but I like a retro fitout. The result was a bit too ’80s wedding for mine, but it was quick, simple and cheap. The approach here is more business than pleasure, but half its beauty is the no-frill approach. Best for a quick, reliable polish."

Visit Tips and Toes at Shop G05/261, Clarendon St, South Melbourne. We paid: $30.

Animal print nails at Trophy Wife
Graham Denholm

If you want what all the cool girls are getting, try Trophy Wife Nail Art

5 out of 5 stars
Shopping Fitzroy

Meg says: "I was a bit nervous, not knowing whether the shop was named tongue in cheek. I’m no trophy wife. Thankfully, it catered for my kind and my new nails are like a vibrant, animal-print party. Mostly using Aussie brand Kester Black, it’s a low toxic environment and we’re pretty sure the salon’s got good feng shui – it’s jungle-full of plants."

Visit Trophy Wife Nail Art at 2B Bridge Rd, Richmond. We paid: $50 for five different designs.

Missy Lui nail art
Graham Denholm

If you want an ultra zen pamper session, try Missy Lui

4 out of 5 stars
Shopping Armadale

Elise says: "I came here for classy, asymmetrical patterns in block colours (navy and nude). The salon’s all about high-end nail luxury: the outfit belongs in an architectural mag and the mani comes with a warm ocean water soak with pure essential oils, a hand massage with an aromatic vanilla moisturiser and a green tea cuppa. In a reassuring move, I got my own file and orange stick (which you can take home) and all polishes are five-free."

Visit Missy Lui at 1/1161 High St, Armadale. We paid: $38. Nail art varies from $7-$10 depending on design.

Other places we recommend

I Scream Nails

Shopping Collingwood
Meg says: "The salon’s a pink, pop art nail heaven, you can sit on a beanbag while you wait for your paint to dry and Liam, our artist, is a steady-handed genius. Designs galore and limited polish stink."

Super Rad Nail Sisters

Shopping Fitzroy

Sarah says: "The shop’s run by sisters Rohani and Rosalie Osman. They have loads of designs, a sensational colour palette, give a good hand massage and use mostly five-free polishes (no toluene, DBP, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin or camphor)."


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