Health & Beauty: Finger tips
Bored with summer pastels? This season nail art brightens
fingers and toes, as Jeannette Ng learns.
The sky's the limit
at Tokyo's trendy nail studios
It's summer. Time to get out the sundress and sandals. And what better
way to celebrate the hot season than to go as bare as you dare?
But as the beauty-conscious knowbut will never tellthere is
a fine art to revealing all. As the woollies, boots and gloves make their
exit, enter the oil-blotters, sunblocks, waxing creams and
polish. The last things you want the sun to expose are uneven or chipped
nails. But why settle for groomed when you can have grand, as in custom-made
masterpieces you can carry on the tips of your fingers?
Pretty as a picture
Nail art is the full monty of nail care. Those looking to follow this
funky fad shouldn't settle for the average coral pink or red varnish.
Go all out and get nice big nail extensions; then get designs inked or
stenciled or airbrushed in all shapes and colors. And no nail art would
be complete without a sprinkle of glitter, spangles, tiny rhinestones
or even crystals.
In recent years, three-dimensional fantasy artwork has also come to the
fore. Now you can have anything made in acrylic or fiberglass and glued
onto your fingernails, from miniature seashells and flowers to tiny Christmas
trees and winged Cupids. In Japan, you can even adorn your digits with
miniature mobile phones complete with teensy-weensy antennashonestly.
Flowers bloom on
nails across the city
If anybody dares to say that sounds over the top, tell them that fancy
nail artwork has a long pedigree. As early as 5000 BC, the Chinese began
decorating hands and fingers with delicate paint work. By about 3500 BC,
the Egyptians were also getting into the act. It's only fitting
that we in the 21st century should, ahem, hand on this grand tradition.
Big in Japan
In Japan today, neiru aruto is big business. There are an estimated 2,000
nail salons scattered around the country, not to mention the numerous
nail specialist schools that churn out professional manicurists year after
year. The 16th International Nail Expo was even held last November in
Tokyo. Looking for ideas for your next manicure? Dodge into the nearest
convenience store and gawk at the quarterly magazine Nail Max, which offers
130 pages of advice and ideas on nail art.
Nail care has also taken a high-tech turn, with the introduction of gel
nails. Gel is a more natural-looking and lower-maintenance alternative
to the more common acrylic, and has been around in Europe and the US for
more than a decade. But gel nails are still relatively new to the Japanese
|Make your masterpiece last and ask
for gel nails.
"Nail art started getting popular here about five or six years
ago, but gel nails have only come in recently," reckons Misuzu
Taga, manicurist at Moga Brook salon. The nail artist and instructor won
accolades and competitions in the UK, where she trained. More recently,
Taga beat 30 contestants to win both the top overall prize and the "Most
Stylish" design award in Japan's first-ever gel nail art
competition, held last month in Daikanyama.
Taga's newest designs for the summer lean toward the fun and frolicsome,
such as intertwining dolphins with tropical flowers and warm colors. Currently,
her favorite design features an exquisite butterfly halved between two
fingernails. Swedish client Freja Brandelius, 27, opts to get her name
inked in stylized Tibetan characters on one finger and her husband's
on another, interspersed with a summer flower design.
"I didn't know it would be so much fun!" she says,
looking her nails over. "I'm going to have to come back.
I'm going away next month and it'll be nice to get this
for when I'm on holiday."
A yen for nails
Beautiful nails don't come cheap. Tokyo prices for manicured extensions
plus artwork hover around ¥10,000 for all ten digits. Some consider
it money well spent, however, and the intricate brushwork is testimony
to the artist's skill. Of course nothing lasts forever, and you
will have to remove the masterpieces once the nails have grown out.
"Gel nail art lasts longer," says Taga. "It can last
up to a month, and we can teach you how to maintain your nails at home.
So, you only need to come to the salon once every three or four weeks."
You can also opt to reserve the fancy touch for that special occasion.
"I was going to a friend's wedding at the weekend,"
says Sako, a 30-something language instructor. "So my nailist (Japanese
slang for manicurist) put these sparkling stones on my nails. It's
great. I don't even have to wear rings because my fingers already
look so good."
Talk about beauty being skinor should we say naildeep.
White-draped and pretty salon offers interesting creations such as
airbrushed stars and tiny crescent moons.
Open 11am-8pm, closed Mondays. 3F, 24-10 Sarugakucho,
Shibuya-ku. Nearest stn: Daikanyama. Tel: 03-5428-1901.
Uses Organicalgel, a gas-permeable gel product. Beautician duo Misuzu
Taga and Misa Takikawa have each won several UK competitions, and offer
friendly expertise in their cozy, sunlit studio.
Open 10am-7pm daily. Room 202, 1-21-9 Jingumae,
Shibuya-ku. Nearest stn: Harajuku. Tel: 03-5412-8203 (English).
Comfortable and quiet salon offers nice big armchairs for you to relax
in while having your nails done.
Open 11am-10pm daily. 2F, 3-24-4 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku.
Nearest stn:Ebisu. Tel: 03-5778-3170.
Opened by award-winning beautician and instructor Eriko Kurosaki, this
spacious white-and-blue salon has a high-tech feel, and boasts individual
cubicles for shyer clients.
Open 11am-9pm daily, closed every second and
fourth Tuesday. 6F, 3-30-11 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku. Nearest stn: Shinjuku.