One thing that I indulge in is getting my nails done. And I don't mean a simple manicure, I mean full on glitter sculpture nails.
While I had gotten regular acrylics on and off since high school, my interest in Japanese sculpture nails began in 2008. I noticed that a new nail salon had opened up in the area, so we went to check it out. They gave us some coupons for free art, so I decided to give it a try.
From my first set, I was hooked! I was amazed at how artistic the 3D art was; I got roses (a popular theme for me) and loved them. In fact, when I went in for the fill, I was super sad to see the nail artist file off the roses. Good thing she was more than happy to make me some new ones!
Japanese sculpture nails differ from the typical acrylic manicure in that they are sculpted rather than done using tips. A specially made sticker is applied to the finger and nail and the acrylic is sculpted on top of this and the nail to create an extension of the nail without the use of a tip. In addition, they ofter a wide variety of glitter acrylic. You can get pretty much any color of the rainbow in glitter applied to your nails in either a solid or gradient style. It takes a long time (around 2 hours for the nails alone), but they come out beautiful and in my experience have been less damaging than other acrylics.
The art is also unique. You can get almost anything put on your nails using colored acrylic, paint, plastic or metal parts, an rhinestones. In the past I've gotten hearts, roses, bows, crowns and rhinestones.
Sadly, my old nail salon where I'd been going for nearly 2 years closed recently. However, I've been to a few others in the area.
Brilliante Nail in Gardena
I went here once since they gave out a coupon for free art (much like my first experience!) They did a very nice job and had a huge variety of colors; if I recall correctly, they had the most out of any salon I've been to. The salon is very cute and clean and the artists were nice. The major drawback for me was price; the cost of a full set was a bit more than other salons I'd been to, and the art was on a sliding scale, so it could get quite expensive. I would go here again.
St. K Nail Salon in Gardena
I have been here twice since my old salon closed down, once for a fill and once for a full set. Both times went well. The salon is very small, but there are only 4 artists so it's not cramped. The nail artists are very nice and both that I had did a great job. They have a pretty big variety of colors also, though not as many as Brilliante. I have never gotten art done here, but their prices are good ($5-$6 per nail) and pictures that I saw looked nice. I will continue going to this salon.
Other salons in the Los Angeles area (that I have not visited) include:
Nail Factory in Torrance
Gemist Nail in Torrance
Atlas Nail in Costa Mesa
Nails by Mari in Torrance
Hime Nail in Tustin
There are several more in the area, these are just ones that were recommended to me.
Tips when getting your nails done:
~Many shops don't take credit card (such as St. K) so you might want to ask about this when you make an appointment and bring cash if needed.
~If you have a specific idea in mind (such as matching a dress or a set you've seen before), it's a good idea to bring a picture. If you're not sure, most salons have Japanese nail magazines where you can get ideas for art and styles.
~Be prepared that getting a full set can take from 2-3 hours depending on how fast the nail artist is and if and how much art you get.
~If you've never gotten nails done before, be aware that they feel strange at first and some things will be more difficult (I still have trouble picking up flat things from a flat surface!) However, you get used to it pretty quickly!