Nails are the canvas for these artists.
It’s said that nail art history began 5,000 years ago when women in India dyed their fingertips red with henna.
In modern times, you might say Calgel changed everything. The clear resin, dried to a glossy, smooth and long-lasting finish, makes the perfect canvas for addons like crystals, hologram paper, paint, airbrushing and 3D charms that turn nails into sculptures.
Nail art mania hit Japan about 15 years ago, before making its way to Hawai’i salons. There’s even an annual Nailympics, started in Las Vegas in 2001, which brings together pros from all over the world to determine who’s tops in extreme nail tips.
One of the event’s past winners is Coco Hayano, owner of Ville de Coco in the Outrigger Luana Waikiki hotel, a gold medalist for airbrushing in the 2002 Nailympics competition.
Situated in two of Waikiki’s major hotels, the salon welcomes walk-ins, though reservations are recommended because of the growing popularity of nail art.
Here, manicures start at $30, French manicures at $45, and gel nails at $45.
The salon is ideal for those who prefer simplicity in nail art, with a focus on hand-painted and sculpted Hawaiian flowers such as plumeria and hibiscus at $14 per nail, and crystal application at $1 per stone.
Open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Visit www.naillabo.net.
2255 Kalakaua Ave. [D:7 Waikiki Map]
Hyatt Regency Waikiki
2424 Kalakaua Ave., Ewa Tower, first floor [C:9 Waikiki Map]
NAIL SALON KOKO
Manis, pedis and nail work is done in a friendly, comfortable and inviting setting, with wood floors and warm decor.
You might want to relax with a deluxe hot stone spa pedicure ($60) with your choice of a honey and milk, or orange and mint foot bath, before heading to the manicurist table for additional pampering.
A French manicure starts at $50, and nail art of glitter gradation starts at $40.
Three trays of acrylic nails show off the salon’s nail art designs that start at $25 for single-color enamel with a floral design on one nail, to $60 for a check design in enamel. Open 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily. Visit www.nailsalonkoko.com.
NAIL SALON KOKO
441 Walina St. #102 [B:9 Waikiki Map]
If you don’t know what you want, photo albums here are full of mani and pedi designs Salon Cherie’s technicians have created for past clients.
It seems that the sky’s the limit for designs that range from animal prints ($45), a mix of crystals and pyramid studs ($55), hand-painted lace ($70) or a delectable 3D dessert design of chocolate, candy and pastry ($70).
For those planning their weddings in paradise, the salon also offers private bridal nail parties and can design custom nail art to match the bride’s dress or flowers.
Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Visit www.saloncherie.com.
Waikiki Landmark 1888 Kalakaua Ave., C305 [A:3 Waikiki Map]
VILLE DE COCO
Born and raised in Japan, owner Coco Hayano started working as a nail technician in 1998. Winning the airbrush gold medal in the 2002 Nailympics encouraged her to open her own spa and salon, where she specializes in airbrushing, freehand painting and customized 3D sculptures shaped from acrylic.
She starts with a consultation to determine what a client wants, but insists on trust.
As an artist, she says, “I’m gonna do what I want to do. I’m a pretty selfish manicurist.”
Her specialty airbrush designs runs $150 for 10 nails, but a gel manicure starts at $32, and you can add on Swarovski crystals at $6 per nail and 3D designs at $8 per nail.
Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. Visit www.villedecoco.com.
VILLE DE COCO
Outrigger Luana Waikiki 2045 Kalakaua Ave., M150 [B:5 Waikiki Map]