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)

NYC Calgel Wars: Sakura VS. Marie Nails

The Calgel Wars are ON!
After being a VERY loyal customer to Sakura Nail & Spa, I had my first visit to Marie Nails NYC on Saturday.  I thought it would be prudent to do a diligent compare/contrast between the 2 NYC nail spots.
Sorry in advance if this is tedious, but I just wanted to be as thorough as possible.


  • SAKURA: With 2 locations (one on the UES, one on the LES), you can definitely have your pick. In my experience, the UES location tends to have the more experienced nail technicians, but they rotate between the 2 locations, so I suggest “dating” your fave nail stylist.
  • MARIE NAILS: One NYC location in Soho.  This location only has 2 pedicure stations and 3 nail stations.


  • SAKURA: very “green” ambience. Both their salons are very tastefully decorated and furnished with a nod to the “asian” aesthetic — quite zen! They also tout a very “natural/healthy” vibe about them.
  • MARIE NAILS:  VERY bare minimum. Truthfully, it looked like they were in a rush to get that place open.  No A/C yet, no wall decor.  The interior has very little decor (if any at all).


  • SAKURA:  I think the best differentiating factor would be to compare a “Spa” vs. a “Clinic”.  Sakura is a nail spa. When you walk in, they ask you if you’d like some green tea.  They offer comfortable seating while your nails dry.  They use cuticle oils with essential oils, they give you a hand massage after your service is done.
  • MARIE NAILS:  For right now (and maybe this is because they just opened), this is very much a “get your service and roll out” kinda place.  No tea, no scented cuticle oil, no hand massage with your service.


  • SAKURA:  $20 for removal
  • MARIE NAILS: removal FREE (if done at Marie Nails)
  • SAKURA:  $40
  • MARIE NAILS:  $35
  • SAKURA:  $60
  • MARIE NAILS: $40
  • SAKURA:  $60
  • MARIE NAILS:  $40
(note: nail art at both places really depends on how intricate the design is, so these are general prices):
  • SAKURA:  Flat art starts at $1.50/nail, 3D art starts at $3/nail
  • MARIE NAILS:  Flat art starts at $3/nail, 3D art starts at $5/nail
  • SAKURA: depends on size of stone:  $0.50/$0.70/$1.00
  • MARIE NAILS:  5 rhinestones for $3

When I have a Calgel design, I usually prefer to have a Biogel base coat because I’ve noticed that it prevents my designs from lifting.  (I must be extra-rough on my hands!).  But Marie Nails only has Calgel, so no Biogel base coat available.  I’ll see how my recent Marie Nails design holds up…fingers crossed!


If you are debating between the two Calgel Nail Art spots — much like everything else in life — it really depends on what you’re looking for.  I have really enjoyed my visits to Sakura, and I’ve found that as long as I make an appointment with someone whose handiwork I KNOW and TRUST, I am always super-happy there.
Now that I’ve been to Marie Nails also, I can also appreciate the fact that Sakura offers the full “experience”, with the hand massage, the aromatherapy cuticle oils, the tea…it’s truly the little things that all add up, especially when you can spend 2-3 hours for a single nail visit.
I DO love the fact that Marie Nails is SUPER-DUPER fast with their application (my last design only took 1.5 hours!!).  While I haven’t been there enough to speak about the rest of their technicians, Sayo (the manager) is unbelievably experienced, fast and her work is impeccable (no bubbles, no heaviness).
OVERALL, Marie Nails is a little cheaper than Sakura.  But if you’re going to get super fancy with crazy Flat or 3D Nail Art…it can actually be a little more expensive, depending on what you get.  So if you’re going to be a standard “glitter gradation” or one-color calgel type of gal — Marie Nails will be the better bargain. But if you ARE going to get crazy with the art, Sakura might end up being a little cheaper.
Hope this post was somewhat helpful — and if there’s anything else you want to add & share…please do!!:)