There is something incredibly therapeutic about getting your nails done. It’s two hours of designated “me time”, where your hands are too occupied to doom scroll or reply to emails. Plus, after indulging in some relaxing downtime, you come out with rejuvenated tips that hide any signs of stress-induced nail biting. Simply put: it’s a win, win.
As a self-diagnosed nail art addict, I can attest that although DIY manicures do the job, nothing beats a salon finish. Especially if you’re looking for something a little spicier than a monochrome shellac look — or for some added length. Yes, you may have to relearn how to type, but nothing beats the clankering sound of nails tapping away at your iPhone. Nor the glimmers of sparkle in your peripheral vision as you animatedly tell stories.
Having tried and tested many spots across London, here are the best nail artists in the capital ready to level up your nail game.
Fuego Nails LDN
Based in Peckham, Fuego Nails is a cult nail salon that prides itself on fearless, otherworldly, deeply symbolic nail art. Run by Natasha Blake, a practising Bruja – which is the Spanish word for “witch” – the artist’s cultural references are a wide-ranging melting pot. But, the main aesthetic of the brand is undoubtedly female empowerment, with strong femme coursing through each of her designs. Think: astrology-inspired graphics, female vigilante characters and Catholic saints.
Must-try: Highly-embellished nails featuring religious iconography.
Nailed by Carolina
As the nail artist behind FKA Twigs’ celestial opal nails from her Caprisongs mixtape cover, Nailed by Carolina has become one of the capital’s most sought after at-home salons. Based in Angel, her aim is “to make everyone’s dream nails come true at an affordable price”, and she works collaboratively with her clients to produce outlandish nails not seen anywhere else. Be prepared for elevated French tips, experimental floral designs using this season’s trending blooming effect and seasonal cherry blossom-inspired freestyles.
Must-try: Multi-coloured bloomies.
AMA the salon
Based in Brixton and Leicester Square, AMA The Salon has welcomed the likes of Solange, Annie Lennox and Adwoa Aboah. It’s easy to see why: their focus on natural nails means they only stock brands that are 90% natural, vegan and cruelty-free, while the salon itself is a bona fide haven. Think: smooth leather chairs, neon signs, embroidered Missy Elliot quotes, and beautifully empowering art.
Must-try: negative space nails, which is where you incorporate your natural nail into the design with a clear or natural-looking base.
NUKA nails was founded by WAH nail technicians, Anouska Anastasia and Kadimah Aaliyah, who met four years ago while working at the flagship store. Together the self-taught beauty pros have carved out a name for themselves off of their bright, bold looks, which pull from streetwear and Y2K references. They’ve painted everything from Looney Tunes characters to Takashi Murakami’s infamous flower motif. According to their Twitter bio, NUKA is more than nails, it’s “a whole damn vibe!” And it’s true: their Ladbroke Grove studio features a DJ booth and a custom-fitted bar – perfect for a post-manicure drink.
Must-try: Psychedelic Sixties swirls.
J3n Nailed it
Jennifer Wood of “J3n Nailed It” notoriety is leading the charge for this season’s biggest nail trend. Her Fulham-based home salon specialises in 3D bedazzled nails that are designed to demand attention. Our personal favourite is her ethereal pearl-core-inspired set, with an iridescent chrome nail polish providing the perfect base for a peppering of pearls. We also can’t stop drooling over her diamante encrusted French manicure.
Must-try: Pearl-core nails.