NAIL ART: stick a feather in it!

apologies — i fell behind on my nail posts (been traveling for work). this is a design i had from a few weeks ago.

  • LOCATION: STUDIO L, 247 W 38th Street, Ste 1603; (646) 499-5357
  • Nail Stylist: Manami (naturally)

when i first saw what could be done with feathers at Studio L, i just knew i had to try it on a design soon!

 ←hotness, no?


  • Manami recommended laying a color down as a base, so the feathers would show more prominently, i decided to change up the base colors a bit to mix it between a peach / light grey / dark grey
  • lay down a clear layer of Calgel, then while sticky, position the full feather tip across the nail
  • once in place, cure under the UV, place another layer of clear Calgel over, cure again, then cut off excess. ultimately you can file off the extra excess until it’s perfect!
  • afterwards, Manami added a few accents of glitter to the feathered fingers to bring it out!

i think this is one of my all-time favorite designs i’ve done. the feathers looked so sophisticated, but it still had personality!


Return to Nail Art: reviving the White Matte Marbled nail design

it’s been nearly 2 years since i last got a crazy nail design.  unheard of, considering i’d gotten a new design every two weeks for a full year straight. but my recent trip to Japan has re-ignited my need for the nail art.

i noticed all the super-polished women rocked beautiful calgel designs, even if it was just a simple gradation! even at the mass drug stores, they had a full section dedicated to nail art:

i chose Studio L for my triumphant return to nail art — mostly because i know & trust the skills of Manami, the owner.  i know she can always execute any crazy idea i have — very rare when you’re trying to be creative with your nail art!

despite flipping through all the Nail Venus & Nail Max magazines in the salon, i had my heart set on a white-ish design in anticipation of Spring, so i revived an older design i had done a couple years ago: my marbled white design.


  • calgel base
  • PEARL calgel color in a reverse french shape
  • took White Matte calgel color to create marbled effect

  • add rhinestones, gold micro-beads & turquoise as needed around accent nails. :)
final effect:


247 West 38th Street (between 7th & 8th Ave), 16th Floor

(646) 499-5357,

Meet the new Nail Art Studio in town! – introducing Studio L!

the nail art craze isn’t going anywhere. i should know…i used to be an addict for a solid year (in my younger days).

in the early years of nail art in NYC, there were two very formidable places: Sakura & Marie Nails. but, as all things do — the city & the scene have both evolved. now there are a bevy of places & players from which to choose.

since i didn’t know any of the technicians at Sakura anymore, and you have to book weeks in advance to get something at Marie Nails, I asked my friend & Nail Art Junkie Keri Blair for suggestions….and so i booked an appointment at Studio L.

Studio L is a small nail art salon, tucked away on the 16th floor of a commercial building in the garment district.  it’s owned by Manami, who happened to be one of my all-time favorite nail stylists from the Sakura glory days. she is one of the most talented as far as flat art design, creativity and technical skill.

Studio L is relatively small: they only have 4 mani stations and two pedicure stations. but it’s nice that it’s not a storefront — you’re removed from the hustle & bustle of the street.  they are equipped with all the latest nail art magazines, as well as a bevy of shades — including NEON ones!

my first visit was this past Sunday — post to follow.  but here’s their info (and some nail art designs to tie you over):


247 West 38th Street (between 7th & 8th Ave), 16th Floor

(646) 499-5357,

Simple Glitter Gradation (and 2 other Calgel discoveries!)

In preparation for my album cover photo shoot, I had to be strategic about my nails.  But because the direction of the shoot was so ornate & edgy, I wanted to keep my nails rather simple this time around (rather than go over the top with too much).
So I decided on a simple Glitter Gradation at Marie Nails.  I asked Sayo to mix a combination of #31 & #32 glitters.

She mixed it with Clear Calgel, but instead of making a more liquid consistency, she made it very pasty & chunky/”dry”.

When I asked her why, she said it was so that she could have more control over the glitter coverage, so that it would be really saturated at the tip of the nail, and she could thin it out towards the middle.  (interesting)
For a rather “simple” design, I had TWO very interesting discoveries:

1)  SUPER Clear Calgel.  “Wait — what is this?” you may ask yourself….apparently exactly what it says it is!  Sayo used it as my “top coat” of clear.  The result was extra shininess!

2) A Permashine Gelacquer Top Coat:  Instead of the usual nail polish top coat, Sayo whipped out this new bottle.  She explained it was a gel topcoat that added more protection.  This was applied after my “Super Clear” Calgel.
The result?  SUPER shininess all around!

Total price:  $40

NY SOHO store
155 prince street
New York NY 10012
(Between West Broadway and Thompson Street)

Marbled White Matte Nail Design, @ Marie Nails NYC

Saturday, I ventured back down to Marie Nails for the 2nd time.  Some quick observations from my last visit:

  • Despite the fact that Marie Nails didn’t have Biogel available for a base, my nails held up pretty well.
  • I only had slight lifting on one nail (my thumb)

As far as design, I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew I wanted white.  It’s hard for me to commit to a color on my nails, so for winter it’s usually black…but maybe for summer, it’ll be white!  I thought “maybe I’ll go simple this time” (yeah right!).
I remembered this design from my last visit.  It was one of Sayo’s original creations:

So we went with it!
But first we had to remove my old set. **Reminder: Removal is FREE at Marie Nails, provided you got them done there.  Before wrapping my nails in the Calaway foils, Sayo used this machine to file the top layer of the nails off first:
Afterwards, she put 1 layer of clear Calgel as a base, followed by a “Pearl” Calgel:
Then she pulled out the “Ice” Calgel and the Matte White Calgel.  She applied the Ice first, in order to provide a more stark contrast for the Matte White:

Then, came the fun part!   Sayo basically “blobbed” a few spots of Matte White Calgel on the nail…then proceeded to “swirl” them with her brush:

COOL, right?!
Then we added the Turquoise stones, mini gold beads and gems on the ring fingers & thumbs.

We decided against doing gold glitter outline, and just keep it simple.  Here’s the final look:

Couldn’t be happier! It was exactly what I wanted: white, clean, simple…but not really!
Here’s the most incredible thing:  TOTAL TIME = 1½ hours. That’s for everything: removal, new set AND design.
COST:  $55 for the Calgel & design + $14 for the rhinestones & acoutrements = $69 TOTAL.
I have been meaning to go back to Sakura to visit my girls there, but I’m really happy with the fact that it is cheaper (I mean, removal is FREE), and also THRILLED with the fact that Sayo is lightning fast.  Time is the most valuable commodity of all, and if I can get in & out in only 1½ hours…then that is Visa Card Priceless.

Marie Nails NYC – Soho
155 Prince Street (between W. Broadway & Thompson)


[May the Nail gods forgive me for my lateness.]
Lani was amazing enough to send me her nail pics weeks ago, but because of the madness of Fashion Week and work, I didn’t get around to posting it until now.  But I promise you, it’s worth the wait!!
Lani and her friend Irene went to Sakura prepared. They visited Kinokuniya (a bookstore that carries Japanese mags galore) and peeped some designs from Nail Venus Mag prior to their appointment, so they already knew what they wanted.
(Irene & Lani)
What I love about these designs is that they took inspiration from the Nail Venus mags, flipped it, and made it their own!!


  • “Irene had beautiful, long natural nails going in, so she did white, silver, black and silver glitter tips on all fingers except her ring fingers.

  • “On those she had a white Calgel base, with the white, silver, black & silver glitter design over the whole nail. Plus some rhinestones thrown on there for extra sparklies! Her artist was Carmen, and she did amazing, intricate work – and it took almost 3 hours!”


“I used a design that had pink Calgel base with black hearts painted on the ring and thumb fingers, and a rhinestone at the base of the all the other nails.”

  • “I decided to change it up and make my index, middle and pinkie fingers black Calgel with the rhinestone at the base. My artist (whose name I sadly can’t remember) found it was easier to work with tiny black holograms instead of trying to paint the hearts by hand, so that’s what we did! We ended up with 3 layers of a peachy pink Calgel on the thumb and ring finger (#64 I think) with two little black hologram hearts. The rest of the fingers had 3 layers of black Calgel, with the large rhinestones at the bottoms of them.”

Both your nails look SO fly!!!  Thank you so much for sharing your designs and inspirations!!!

Sakura – UES
1709 Second Ave
New York, NY 10128
(212) 722-1334

“Party Nails” – according to Nail Venus Magazine

In light of New Year’s Eve, I made an appointment to get my nails did for the festivities.  I’m trying to grow out my nails to the much-popular talon length that many of the celebs sport. 

(Dunno, but I have the strange desire to have really long, pointy, plastic-red nails!!)
Keeping mind, however, that the celebs probably aren’t tapping away at a keyboard all day…LOL.
So I went to see Megumi at Sakura Lower East Side on New Year’s Eve Day, without knowing what I was going to get done.  So I flipped & found something that caught my eye from the Winter 2010 Issue of Nail Venus Magazine:

They were aptly named “Party Nails”!

The only adjustment I wanted to make to the design was for the black nails to have a clear cuticle (since my nails seem to grow so quickly).
Megumi started with the base colors: Black and then Silver Glitter for the accent nail:

Then, Megumi created the colors for the “party squigglies” by mixing Pigment + Glitter with Clear Calgel.  The reason she needed the Pigment with the Glitter was to make sure there was enough color that it would show up against the black.

Then she got to work:
silver first
←then green
then purple!
Then Megumi added a Black Calgel Swirl to the Silver accent nail and added rhinestones for some added (ahem) bling!
Here’s the final nail look:

Thanks to Megumi and the crew at Sakura Lower East Side for all your help!

35 East 1st Street, New York
(212) 387-9161

Hello 3D Nail Art!

After seeing many of the nail stylists at Sakura with 3D Nail Art, and after being a Calgel Cult Member for 1 solid year…I decided it was finally time to dip my toe into 3D Nail Art.
Some info about 3D:

  • The base of any 3D design is white. Apparently not, as pointed out by the OPI stylist — Lola — who commented below. However, I will say that for the designs they do at Sakura, they DO use white acryllic powder as a base. They mold the design first (like a sculpture) and then they paint over it.
  • According to my nail stylist, Acryllic 3D Nail Art is very durable (which is one of my big concerns…I hate stuff popping/falling off my nails)

I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted: something light and classic on my fingers, with one accent design on each ring finger.  My nail stylist for the day was Megumi.
We started by doing a bright White Calgel gradation, about ¾ of the way down the nail.  The ring finger, we kept all-black.

Now the fun 3D part.  Basically, they use this powder for the 3D Art.  (I guess it’s kinda like the powder they use when they do Acryllic Tips in regular salons?)

They take a brush, dip it in a solution, then pick up a little powder with the wet tip.  Essentially it’s very much like adding water to powder to create clay: moldable and movable until it hardens and dries, so there is definitely play time with the acryllic.  But not too much, maybe 1 minute or so.

I asked her to do a Skull & Crossbones on my right hand, and a rose on my left hand.  The skull was a little hard to capture on camera, but I got a good play-by-play of the rose.
skull minus the eyes!
Megumi at work

The two 3D Art nails, side-by-side:

Then for the final look, I asked Megumi to add some Pearls to the white gradation, just for a lil sumpn’ sumpn’!

←Thanks Megumi!!

Sakura Nail Spa – UES
1709 Second Ave
New York, NY 10128
(212) 722-1334

Pink Metallic Gradation with Black Calgel, Holograms and Bling

I’m so late with this post, so apologies!  I went to get my nails did a week and-a-half ago, but I was coming straight from work without a clue as to what design I wanted to get.
Naturally, I flipped through Nail Venus for some inspiration and peeped this:

(so much for keeping it simple!)
First thing: I asked Fumiko to file down my talons.  I had them really long for my Video Shoot nails, so I needed to drastically cut the length.
Fumiko created used the #49 Calgel (a bright fuchsia pink), mixed with a pink metallic pigment to give it that sheen.  She also created a sheer black Calgel (mixing black matte pigment powder + a black metallic powder).

After a Clear Calgel Base, she went in with a pink Calgel gradation.  Then layered the black Calgel in a random pattern over:

Then, came the hard part: placing the lines of holograms on the pinky & index finger.

It was such a meticulous process, that at one point, Fumiko has to enlist Megumi to help start on the rhinestone placement.

We used these EXTRA huge rhinestones… Y’all know how I feel about bling:

This was the final look:

NOTE: This was my first time at the Sakura LES location.  It was really bustling with the trendy nail-obsessed.  One thing to note: they do not do 3D acryllic art at this location.
Special thanks to Fumiko and Megumi for spending so much time with me!

35 East 1st Street, New York –
(212) 387-9161