Here at The Urban List, nothing makes us feel quite as fierce as a freshly glossed set of digits. We may skip the blow dry and neglect our pores, but a fortnightly mani is non-negotiable. For on-point finger works, here are a few of our fave nail bars, battling it out for the title of best manicure in Melbourne.
If jam-packed nail bars with unflattering light and questionable hygiene practices give you the heebie jeebies, Miss Fox is the little slice of paradise for you. Head up the stairs on Little Collins Street and you’ll find an uber feminine urban oasis, offering the full suite of beautification services, from spray tans to facials, lash extensions to waxing.
The Nail Bar services are on the higher end of the price spectrum, but with lush surrounds, friendly and highly qualified technicians, and a complimentary glass of bubbles, we reckon you’re worth it. There’s a wide range of options of offer, from the Classic Mani with locally made vegan polish from Kester Black (you’ll get your very own bottle of varnish to take home!), to the super luxe Signature Spa Manicure, complete with exfoliation and blissful massage. If you’re like me and end up with more chips than a seagull, opt for long-wear gel: choose from Artistic Colour Gloss, or nourishing, damage-free Bio Sculpture Gel, which has the added bonus of strengthening your nails.
Collins Nail Boutique
CBD ladies, take note. This is where you should be going for that lunchtime nail sesh. Collins Nail Boutique (formerly French Pink) is inspired by successful entrepreneurial women all over the world. It's designed to cater to the busy professional, and offers the full suite of beauty services. Think SNS Healthy Nails, Spa Pedicure and Shellac, Deluxe Shellac Manicure, Nail Art, all types of Waxing, Eyelash Extensions and Tinting. Did we mention it's got some of the friendliest staff you'll find in the city? Case closed.
Beauty EDU Salon
If your budget runs more to beer than champagne but you still want to look the biz, The Salon at Beauty EDU’s city campus is for you. Yes, it is a training facility (co-owned by the impeccably groomed Bec Judd), but it looks more like a five-star spa, and the prices just can’t be beat. A 30-minute Express Mani will set you back a tenner, while the Spa Manicure will have you cosseted for an hour, before leaving with shiny happy hands for just $20. You can buy a six-pack with the left over cash. (Pssst: Make sure you circle November in your dairy, as these guys will be setting up a Nail & Brow Bar in David Jones at Eastland too.)
Downtown Nail Spa
Fancy a buff and polish all for just 20 smackaroos? Not only are Downtown's prices keeping your wallet happy, their range of colours and glitters are also super fabulous. These experienced technicians have been giving the people of Melbourne glowing nails and toenails for 6 years, so they know their stuff. You can decide between the deluxe mani for just 20 dollars, shellac for $35 and a deluxe pedi for $35, because your toes need some loving too. Whatever the occasion these girls have the nail glow-up sorted. (Oh and they also do waxing if your brows happen to be getting a little over the appropriate hairiness)
The Green Ones
Sitting pretty on High Street in Armadale, Missy Lui is a breath of fresh air in the Melbourne manicure scene. Think white walls, hanging plants, blonde timber, and chairs that would look more at home in the pages of Vogue Living than your regular nail bar. You get the gist. Using only the most non-toxic, natural products on the nailcare market (including Zoya and Kester Black), Missy Lui is all about long-term hand and nail health, as well as the prettiest nails in town.
The manicures on offer range from the 15-minute Express, to a 30-minute Classic Manicure, 45-minute Luxe version, and hour-long Japanese Manicure. We were initially a little disappointed this didn’t involve a serve of sashimi, but it still sounds pretty heavenly. Think a luxurious treatment to amp up your hand health, including a warm soak of ocean salt and essential oils, exfoliation, cuticle removal, nail shaping and buffing, relaxing hand massage and nourishing cuticle treatment. Nails are polished with beeswax before being buffed with pearl mineral powder. No actual polish is applied (and should be avoided for a few days), but your nails will be so shiny and good-lookin’ you’ll be happy to bare all.
A tiny, hole-in-the-wall nail bar in the Royal Arcade, Q&H Nails isn’t fancy, but it’s one of our favourite new beauty discoveries. The reason? Organic Gel, people. No, we hadn’t heard of it either, but now we have, we’re shouting it from the rooftops.
If you’re used to Shellac or regular gel nails, organic gel is a totally different experience. Your nails are systematically glossed, then dipped into coloured powder. Glossed then dipped. After watching this odd process, you might start to be concerned with the matte appearance of your nails. Don’t be—a high gloss top coat is applied at the very end. The best bit? There’s no damaging UV light involved; no complicated drying process. Your nails dry INSTANTLY.
We’ve also been told organic gel is much easier to remove and causes far less damage to the nail. We’re freshly varnished, so we’ll have to report back in a few weeks.
The Cray Cray
I Scream Nails
Why not show your Aussie pride with a jar of Vegemite, or fly your crazy cat lady flag? If it’s statement nails you’re after, make tracks to I Scream Nails in Collingwood. Doing the usual Melbourne thing and starting with a pop-up, nail goddess Celia Cecchi set up her permanent Collingwood studio two years ago, and business is booming, with regular collabs with leading local fashion and beauty brands like Kit and Sportsgirl.
If you can’t make it to the studio, perhaps you’ll catch one of the 20-strong I Scream Nails team at a party or event around town. Keep an eye out for their Nail Art Bike peddling on a street near you—the ultimate in mobile manicures.
Trophy Wife Nail Art
The rockstar of the Melbourne manicure scene, Chelsea Bagan is the brains and polish-wielding brush behind the crazy-popular Trophy Wife Nail Art. Starting off as a hobby, Chelsea has grown her passion for kooky and colourful nails into a legit business, with a shop front and laundry list of cool collaborations.
Sure, you could go for something classic, but why would you when ice-cream cones and Paddle Pops are on offer?
Japan Nails is all things weird, wacky and wonderful. Nothing is too "extra" here. We mean nothing. If you want a cute little bunny drawn on your nail or diamond gems scattered all over your cuticles, the peeps at Japan Nails have you covered. This place is oozing creativity to its full extent. It may not be your regular mani-pedi but what you leave the salon with will bring you so much more joy. Plain matte black nails are soooooo last year, so go on and get a fresh set of rainbow unicorn's on the tips of your fingers. We dare you. Also try: Super Rad Nail Sisters in Fitzroy, Blonde Tiger in Collingwood.
You've got Melbourne's best nails. Now get the skin: here are 8 tips to nail beautiful skin in summer.
Image credit: Lumina