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Nail art in Vancouver

4 Sep


Snazzy, 3-D nail art goes to crazy new lengths

By Sarah Rowland

Running out of body parts for expressing yourself creatively? Don’t need your hands for anything practical? Got time and money to spare? Well, Japanese-style nail art may be just the thing for you. This is where specialized nail technicians mount meticulously handcrafted 3-D acrylic sculptures on super-long gel extensions.

Not surprisingly, this claw craze started in Tokyo about 10 years ago. That’s when Asian celebs started donning elaborately themed fake nails that, in addition to raised acrylic designs, were decorated with increasingly ornate trinkets, including jewels, lace, pearls, and anime characters.

Now, the trend is invading the Lower Mainland, with specialty salons popping up everywhere from Vancouver’s Kaen Beauty Design Studio (846 Thurlow Street) to Burnaby’s Graceful Beauty studio (by appointment only) to Richmond’s Glam Nail Studio (1020–8766 McKim Way), which has been making a name for itself beyond B.C.’s borders. Glam director Keiko Matsui has nail queens coming in from Edmonton, Seattle, and Toronto to get their hands decked out by her and her technicians. Not only that, her unassuming salon is starting to get worldwide recognition.

This year, one of her up-and-coming nail technicians, Chinatsu Oyama, won first place for the best hand-painted nail art in the novice category at Nailpro magazine’s annual competition in Las Vegas. The theme was USA—Oyama painted a Barack Obama portrait that spanned 10 long-ass claws. Meanwhile, Matsui took home a third-place prize for best sculptured nail. The theme was the prehistoric period. Yup, there were dinosaurs aplenty.

Back at the shop, however, the three biggest requests from customers are a little more girlie-girl in nature: Hello Kitty, flowers, and ribbons. I wanted to give this spa sensation a try myself, but since I need my fingers for typing (and opening wine bottles), I thought I should probably just get one nail done. And even though I haven’t done blow since the ’80s, it’s always been a secret fantasy of mine to sport the ultimate coke nail. But what pattern to choose? Hmmm, decisions, decisions. Perhaps a ’70s sunset with a few tastefully placed rhinestones? Or maybe something a little more dangerous, like a skull and crossbones? At one point, I contemplated getting an Obama coke nail, but decided against it, as that would be disrespectful. Stevie Nicks, though—now that would have been perfect.

But Matsui’s specialty is 3-D art, so I opted for an awesomely tacky leopard-print nail with a nice red rose sculpture planted on top. (A whole hand of this pattern would set you back about $90 and take two hours.) I sat down in the nail parlour, where apparently nothing is safe from Matsui and her Swarovski-happy crew. The mouse, the calculator, and the tape dispenser were all jewel-encrusted, another service they offer at Glam. So if you want your iPhone case bejewelled in a blinged-out Hello Kitty pattern, they’ll do it for $30 to $230.

Before Glam, there was K’s Nails, Matsui’s own mobile manicure/pedicure service. It was through this business that the Blanche MacDonald Centre grad realized that French manicures weren’t cutting it anymore. Increasingly, customers were requesting more and more elaborate fingertip flair. “I couldn’t take any more clients,” says Matsui, as she finishes off my itsy-bitsy leopard spots. “It was an overflowing situation. People were like, ‘Whenever I call you, you don’t have any more space.’ ‘Okay, but I only have two hands.’ ” And with that, she opened Glam. The challenge now is to find technicians who possess the same God-given talent as Matsui. After all, not every manicurist has the artistic skills to create something as beautiful and timeless as my pimpin’ Peruvian pinky.

Midnight fun with nail art

3 Apr

I just did this. Total time from clean nails to polished, stamped and topcoated? 20 minutes!

plaid nails

Base is OPI’s French Collection You Don’t Know Jacques! – a dark taupe grey. Stamp is Konad plate #60 plaid print, and plate #57 lace tip.


This one was last week’s. Based on black on nude lingerie, the base is a very flattering neutral/nude (for my paleish-yellow/warm/cool skin tone, most ‘neutral/nude’ nail polishes turn out too pink or too peach. Don’t be afraid if this looks grey/mauve/pink)  OPI’s French Collection Tickle Me France-y, with Konad stamp #60 argyle print on alternating fingertips.

Nail Love loves!

5 Mar

I just came upon this while searching for OPI’s You Don’t Know Jacques polish.  Now I have to get ALL OF THESE and mani exactly the same! I agree it looks like a bed of rocks and goes so well together. Thanks Scrangie!!! <- she also does some really great reader requests and layering posts!

Thumb to pinkie: OPI You Don’t Know Jacques, Sephora By OPI Metro Chic, Rescue Beauty Lounge Grunge, OPI Parlez-Vous OPI, Sephora By OPI Call Your Mother.

OPI Loves

5 Mar

The new OPI Avoplex Oil to Go! – no more carrying around leaky and fragile glass bottles and fearing leakage in designer purses! No spillage when applying while driving.

Just bought (albiet a few months late) “You Don’t Know Jacques” from the France Collection – a very interesting and strangely flattering grey/taupe. No shimmer. I’m so over that. But there’s a lighter and perhaps more flattering colour in the Sephora by OPI collection called Metro Chic.  (link thanks to All Laquered Up)

I’m really into cremes right now (also the MAC Cremesheen collection, of which I bought 3 ).  Loves from the South Beach Collection (and links and thanks to e-polishblog for colour swatches) :

Must haves:

  • Paint My Moji-Toes Red – creamy rose red
  • Party In My Cabana – pink!
  • Overexposed In South Beach – gorgeous in the swatch!!!!
  • OPI On Collins Ave – this was the first colour I reached for!


  • Suzi & The Lifeguard – an opaque whisper pink. I didn’t even notice this one as the collection was called “South Beach” and I was thinking festive, bright and bold colours. Look better on the nail than in the bottle. Don’t know with my yellow colouring though.
  • Bronzed To Perfection – looks ick, but maybe fab with a tan!
  • Sand In My Suit

Ok after going through the actual swatches, I think I just might need to buy the whole collection!!! (Or most of!)

I don’t think I can use these enough to justify buying a whole bottle, and I’ve looked at cheaper brand for similar colours, but OPI’s quality cannot be beat! Plus, at beauty supply stores I’m paying $5.99 vs. $9.99+ at retail stores.