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Is Boston a Black Hole for Nail Art?

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We've all been there, scrolling through Instagram for the nails to top off an outfit, finding the picture, then bringing that glorious screenshot into a salon and hoping the nail artists can maybe recreate it. Sadly, often we end up with a far cry from the original, or worse, a basic mani. Boston might be a nail art black hole—a locale bereft of the nail art explosion we see in LA and New York.

Don't stress, we took hosted a roundtable discussion with some of Boston's nail art connoisseurs including: Jeannie Vincent, professional makeup and nail artist (you've seen her work in editorials for e-commerce sites Flock and Karmaloop, as well as on the pages of Improper Bostonian); Nina Park, Boston's DIY nail art powerhouse with over 8,000 followers on Instagram; CFDA scholar at MassArt and nail enthusiast Erin Robertson. Let's talk which Boston salons actually do nail art, Essie versus OPI, and of course, the future of nail art in Boston.

Where do you go in Boston for great nail art?
Jeannie Vincent: Besides my living room? I honestly have never had nail art done here by someone else, but I know there are ladies in town spinning out some dope work (Central Square, Southie, etc.).
Erin Robertson: I got to Sunny Nails in Central Square. Lucy Tang does the good nail art.
Nina Park: To be honest, I have been on the hunt for great nail art in Boston for a couple of years but I haven't found anyone who is able to do the designs I've been looking for. This is partially why I started painting my own nails! I started doing nail art on myself two years ago.

Why do you think nail art hasn't boomed in Boston like it has in other cities?
JV: I think in general people tend to be more conservative here, especially with beauty, and I think that can be a good thing. Hate to see the overdone look and luckily it's not too present here. But I do think that there are plenty of people with good taste who appreciate nail art in the same way they appreciate great clothing or accessories.
NP: I wish I knew the answer to this question! New York and LA have such great nail art communities but Boston hasn't really kept up. I have a few theories but I think one of the main reasons why nail art hasn't boomed in Boston is that it isn't readily available. I've heard that nail art exists outside of the city but I haven't seen it for myself. I'm hoping to put my own spin on the nail art scene in Boston soon!
ER: I don't think it's taken off 'cause people don't know where to go. I found out Lucy did nail art by chatting with her while I was getting nails done from someone else.

What's your go-to polish for a casual day? For a night out?
JV: For casual days I like to go with a pale neutral like a baby sheer gel or something like Floss Gloss Dinge. That or a classic red or pink. A night out could be anything, from a nail wrap to an illustration to a pattern or even a stud. When I am bored I look up cool designs and try to replicate them so it could be anything. There's no shortage of nailspo out there online. Pinterest and Tumblr are my favorite wormholes to get sucked into.
NP: My go-to polish for a casual day is Sally Hansen's Complete Salon Manicure in Arm Candy with some nail foils on top or a simple tribal print. I don't really do plain polish. It makes me sad. I love adding Swarovski crystals and studs to nail wraps (I'm currently obsessed with Scratch nail wraps) for a night out or if I'm just feeling fancy.
ER: Um. I don't do nail polish anymore. Only gel. So whatever works for 2 weeks.

What products are in your top drawer?
JV: Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in iteration, Chanel Le Volume Mascara (best layered over Fresh's Supernova), Tammy Fender Epi-Peel from Follain (obsessed) is an amazing scrub for your face, and I'm still loyal to my Fresh Soy Face Cleanser. I also got turned on to using raw Manuka honey as a facial treatment. So good!
NP: Korean waterproof eyeliner, Maybelline Mega Plush Volume Express Waterproof Mascara, Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream, Urban Decay Anti-Aging Eyeshadow Primer, and Benefit Brow Shaping Kit.
ER: MAC for foundation. Nars for eyebrow. YSL, Thom Browne and Mac lipstick.


What do you say to those who claim nail art is dead?
JV: I mean, leggings were a fad too. What makes something a fad, and also, who cares? A fad just symbolizes something that a bunch of people are into and what's wrong with that? If you're not into it, you can look the other way. The people repping the "fad" out there don't seem to be bothered.
NP: Do what you want. My nails will always be fresher than yours.
ER: I think it's always been in. I saw this photo from the 50s and this woman had it. People are just getting more creative with it. It's like an actually form of art.

Best nail advice you've ever received?
JV: I would say the most important thing is self care in terms of nail health. When I was in school I learned a lot about how important our nails are and that taking care of them is the way to go. I'm constantly moisturizing so if you want one piece of advice, take that. Also—don't use your nails as tools. Definitely don't bite. Never shower or wash dishes with bare nails if they are thin or weak; always have at least a base coat on for protection. And when I say fast drying topcoat (Poshe is my personal favorite) is one of the best things to ever happen to me, I'm not exaggerating.
NP: Clean up around your cuticles. No one wants to see that.
ER: To not cut cuticles all the way.

Is there a future for serious nail art in Boston?
JV: I sure as hell hope so! I think so for sure. I'm into it, other people are, and you're writing this article. Nail art and nails in general is too big a trend or fad as naysayers would have it; it's impossible to ignore. Even Super Bowl ads this year had nail art! Every time I see it in a prominent or commercial setting or delivery it makes me stoked. I think the people I know in Boston who appreciate good nail art are ready to be treated.
NP: If I have anything to do with it, absolutely.
ER: Oh yeah. People just need to be informed about it. Everyone needs to know about Lucy.

Lightning round:
Square, Almond, or Stiletto shaped?
JV: Almond for me.
NP: Almond for life.
ER: Stiletto.

Gel or Tips?
JV: Gels are great, gel extensions are cool too. I'm not an expert with acrylic tips but I definitely appreciate the craft.
NP: Tough one. Gel.
ER: Gel.

Essie or OPI?
JV: Essie for brush and neutrals, OPI for fun stuff (just hate that wide brush!).
NP: Both. And Sally Hansen, China Glaze, Zoya, Sinful Colors, Orly, Butter London.
ER: Essie.

Best place in Boston for a Mani?
JV: I can come to you! MiniLuxe I think is the standard though, and I know people who go to My Nails in the South End. Jeanne Lee on Newbury is super acclaimed, and Mia's on Newbury has always been a staple for me when I was frequently getting manicures.
NP: Still looking!
ER: Sunny Nails with Lucy.
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