Tucked on the second floor of a shophouse in Haji Lane is The Nail Social, which, as its name suggests, is a socially conscious salon offering manicure, pedicure and foot massages. Founders Cheryl Ou and Germaine Monteiro set it up in 2014 with the aim of employing and training underprivileged local women. The pair was experienced nail technicians prior to setting up The Nail Social, and they make sure each customer feels at ease: there’s no lack of conversation, but you’re left to your own devices if you’d prefer things that way.
Variety is the operative word here. There are close to 100 colours in both the regular and gel ranges – you’ll have to shell out another $3 for Halal polish, though. Guests also receive an iPad loaded with Netflix, games and books. And you can’t knock the free homemade lemonade and wine (the latter only on Fridays and Saturdays).
Rebecca Liew recommends the… Luxe option ($65/mani). My nails were filed, reshaped and thoroughly buffed before my cuticles were trimmed. Next came the exfoliation to remove dead skin and encourage blood circulation, followed by a hand and arm massage using a combination of essential oils, organic coconut oil and Rhassoul clay. I chose a nude OPI polish, which was layered in-between a clear bottom and topcoat. What sets it apart was the stellar service: Monteiro constantly checked if I needed more to drink, and even helped me with my shoes because my nails hadn’t fully dried.
A cosy salon tucked away in Balestier Hill Shopping Centre, True Aesthetics Mani+Pedi has seven mani-pedi stations to kick back and get comfy in. Treat yourself to a regular mani and pedi, or up the ante with a full spa treatment for your hands and feet. The salon boasts a collection of brands you can choose from, such as OPI, Jacqueline Burchell, and Memory gel wear from Korea, just to name a few. You can also pop over to the beauty unit next door for facial or massage treatments.
Ho Zimin recommends the… Signature spa pedicure ($74), it’s a godsend for those needing a little TLC for your overworked soles. Pedicures at True Aesthetics Mani+Pedi aren’t just about, well, aesthetics – the folks here care a great deal about foot health, and use Footlogix formulas to ensure your feet stay pampered and moisturised. The pedicure begins with a soak, scrub and cuticle-care, followed by a foot and calf massage to rejuvenate those tired muscles. There’s also an array of 3D nail art to bedazzle your toes, with nail art services starting from $25.
Most nail salons are set up with ladies in mind and the men, if any at all, are usually found sinking deeper into the couch while waiting for their better half. Not here. The studio specialises in pedicures designed by French podiatrist Bastien Gonzalez and draws its fair share of male customers thanks to its sleek, neutral-coloured space. A 60-minute pedicure is $195 while a 45-minute manicure is $145, although you can add on spa treatments, too. Our picks: the five-hour Remède journey ($725) or the three-hour couple retreat ($900).
Wong Woon Shin recommends the... Bastien’s duo ($285/75 mins), where two therapists work simultaneously on your hands and feet. A word of warning: don’t be alarmed at the surgical set-up in the private suite – yes, there’s a scalper and a dentist-like scaling tool. Studio manager Jenna Stagnaro explained each step of the treatment from shaping to buffing to polishing my nails. The result? A clean, natural shine. But the final 15 minutes of synchronised massage were the best. Both therapists work in tandem to knead my forearms and calves at the same time. As far as my first mani-pedi experience goes, this studio pretty much, well, nailed it.
Auum – The Honest Nail Spa
With this mobile nail station, throw a manicure party for a bride-to-be or treat your employees to a relaxing day in the office with services like aromatherapy foot spas and paraffin manicures. The Auum girls will pay you a visit armed with all the polish, scrubs and essential oils to pamper you from fingertips to toes. The brands they use – such as Butter London, Deborah Lippman and NCLA – are non-toxic, making it safe for pregnant women and kids, too. You also won’t need to worry about hygiene as Auum ensures that everything is either disposable or disinfected.
Nicole-Marie Ng recommends the… Paraffin manicure ($70). Five of us took some time off work to get our nails done in the office pantry. While waiting for one set of nails to dry, the therapist wasted no time starting on the next person, creating an assembly line of girls waiting to get their nails done. All the basics are included in this package, including cuticle grooming, shaping and varnishing, but the best part was definitely the piping hot paraffin mask that made my skin feel baby-soft after.
AgnesG Nails shares its space with a hair salon – so if you’re looking for an all-in-one place to get a makeover, look no further. A classic manicure is priced at $25 while a pedicure will cost you $35. But what you’re really here for are the customisable works of art that Agnes Goh and her team paint on your nails. They make acrylic pieces that can be added to your manicure, and even have a printer to issue designs you won’t find on anyone else.
Nicole-Marie Ng recommends the… Gel manicure with customisable nail art (from $55). I went in without knowing exactly what I wanted from my manicure; the only brief I gave Agnes was that it needed to look festive. Instead of going for the clichéd red and green, my manicure looked like it belonged in a winter wonderland. Some nails even mimicked falling snow, but the standouts were the nails with three multi-coloured stones rimmed by a golden wire. I had compliments for many days to come.
Thinking of pimping your nails with chrome, holographic or ombre glitter? Well, whatever beauty trend you’d like to have on your tips, this salon’s got your back hands. Using OPI, China Glaze and Korean brand Gellyfit, the manicurists can decorate your ends with flashy nail art or opt for a reverse French mani if you prefer something simple. This nail bar also offers pedicure services (from $88), so you can show off your toes in sandals all day, every day.
Sofiana Ramli recommends the… Classic gel manicure ($50) and signature detox pedi double-up ($88). Because nothing beats a good ol’ mani-pedi. For my fingernails, my manicurist suggested holographic nails over a white base to really let the glitter pop. And for an extra touch of pizzazz, I requested for themed nail art ($5/nail) that came with decorative baubles beneath a topcoat. My feet were also pampered from nail to sole with an anti-fungal treatment, nail filing and scrubbing, leaving them baby-soft and pristine. For an additional $33, you can get your toes painted, too.
Before OHNAILS opened its brick-and-mortar outlet, founder Cleo Chew previously made house calls for customers. OHNAILS is, for now, a one-woman show, although the team is looking to expand with its growing demands. Chew regularly posts pictures of her creative and precise nail art designs on OHNAILS’ Instagram page – you’ll definitely get a serious case of nails envy.
Michelle Ng recommends the… Classic gel manicure ($38) and top it with nail art (from $3). OHNAILS offers one of the most affordable gel manicures and pedicures around, at $38 and $48, respectively. For nail art, just arrive with a couple of design references and leave the rest to Chew. She was extremely patient with my nail art, layering two (and sometimes three) coats to achieve perfect lines and shapes. Plus, she stocks over 600 nail polish shades, so the sky’s the limit.
The Nail Artistry is an unassuming space with floor-to-ceiling windows, plush seats and a huge TV screening the latest blockbuster. Basic services include manicures (from $15), pedicures (from $35) and spa treatments (from $30). The manicurists are flexible with requests, but check out the salon’s Instagram page for its innovative and trendy designs. You can also request for hand-painted characters such as Totoro or Pikachu on your nails. If you’re feeling peckish or waiting for someone to finish their manicure, there’s a café on the premises that offers light bites such as breads, croissants and cakes ($1.50-$7.50), and coffee ($3-$6).
Tiffany Chow recommends the… Classic gel manicure and pedicure (from $48 and $58, respectively). For an additional fee, get nail art designs – The Nail Artistry has geometric, watercolour and gradient matte patterns, among others. I opted for the holographic effect and the salon charges $3 to $4 per nail depending on whether it’s a single- or two-toned gradient. Once my nails were prettied up, attention shifted to my feet – and they were as well taken care of. The pedicure involved filing the soles of my feet, followed by an exfoliating scrub, to remove callouses and leave them supple.
Manicurious shares a shophouse space with Candour Coffee, so don’t be shy about walking straight past the café counter to the back. Push open the large yellow door and you’ll be greeted by a spacious nail salon decked with plush chairs and cushions. There are usually around four to five manicurists in the shop every day – and while they accept walk-ins, it’s best to make appointments. And if you're looking for a soak-off ($22) or nail art (from $5), remember to mention it in advance.
Michelle Ng recommends the… Colour gel manicure ($85). Manicurious uses only Presto gel nail polish for gel manicures and pedicures to ensure that nails are well protected and that the nail art will stay on for longer. Those who’re tired from walking all day should also try the Spa Organics foot spa ($55): it pampers your tired feet with a scrub, a minty mask and finally, a coat of moisturiser to leave your legs smooth, shiny and rejuvenated.