Salon or Self-Serve?

As women of the 21st century we are inclined to believe that we can do anything. But since most of us are on a budget we are always looking for ways to DIY instead of buy. We’ve all seen the gorgeous #nailporn, #nailswag, #nailart, #notd and #instanails blowing up our social media feeds. Sure, a lot of these designs can be replicated at home with the help of a YouTube video, but with this explosion of glitter, animal print, and color comes great responsibility. Nail professionals are licensed for a reason, and anyone who has tried to remove gel-polish from their own nails can definitely see why. As someone who has a background in the DIY world and now works for a magazine for nail professionals, it’s important to set the record straight on when it’s OK to DIY and when it’s best to leave it to a pro.

Nail Art          

If you can barely draw a stick figure or a straight line, you will definitely want to ask a nail tech for her prices. Typically, the more elaborate the design the more it costs. Prices start at about $3 a nail and can vary greatly depending on where you live and the salon you go to. Sometimes salons offer promotions where you can get free nail art with the purchase of a certain service. Nail bars are popping up all over big cities in trendy stores and at events, so take advantage  and see what they have to offer. If you think nail art is something you can replicate, go for it. You can purchase gems, brushes, stencils, decals, and pens from stores such as Urban Outfitters and Sephora or get crafty with a visit to Michaels or Etsy. Chevrons and polka dots are simple add-ons you can probably do yourself with the help of some tape or foil, but if you are looking for a full-on sketch of your significant other’s face, it’s probably best to ask someone more experienced.

I love this nail art I had done by the ladies of Kleur at Candy Paint LA.

A nail art design I did on my own, inspired by Sprinkles cupcakes. Dots are about the only nail design I can successfully do myself.


If you love the look of long, perfect, pink-and-whites more power to you. While there are DIY kits you can buy to get acrylic nails on your own, and many on the Internet claim to have done this successfully, I would urge you to stand down. Some people over-file and over-use the chemicals involved, which can be dangerous for your nails and skin. If you’re worried about sanitation or health at the salon, get a recommendation from a friend who has had acrylic work done. If you’re worried about the cost of keeping acrylics up, then you may want to re-think the idea all together. A gel-polish manicure or glue-on nails might be better options for you.


There has been some controversy surrounding gels and gel-polish lately. While some people are leery about sticking their hands under a light for a few minutes, others are embracing the two week manicure that the medium provides. For the record, a gel service will not increase your risk of skin cancer. I have worn a lot of different gel-polishes working at this job, and I had zero health problems because of it. I don’t apply sunscreen prior to my gel services, but it is an option if it will make you more comfortable. Gels can also be done at home, if you would rather spring one time for the lamps and polishes. Affordable kits by Katie Cazorla and Red Carpet Manicure are available and easy to use. A gel service in a salon tends to cost a bit more than a regular polish, but you do get what you pay for: a color that will last for two weeks (sometimes longer) and dries instantly. If the risk is still too great for you then stick with traditional lacquer.

Previous page 1
newsletter illustration

Giggles in Your Inbox