We love ourselves a good gel manicure here at Power Animals. With nine of us traipsing about the city trying out various nail salons, we are able to present a fairly exhaustive review of Calgel options in NYC. We’ve tried CND’s Shellac, OPI’s Axxium, Gellish, and Gelebration and none stand up to the quality and duration of a Calgel manicure. Only a handful of NYC salons offer Calgel and below is a review of four that do. I’ve created a little rating system to attempt to gauge the strengths of each nail salon. 1-5 for each category (5 is the best) with 20 as the highest score.
Marie Nails 155 Prince Street between Thompson and West Broadway in Soho
Marie opened an NYC outpost last summer, after much success with their first store in LA’s Koreatown. In just six months the salon has acquired a huge following, meaning that appointments must be made one-two weeks ahead of time. The girls are talented and nice and the prices are great. The location is great but decor is bare-bones. You’re there for the quality Calgel manicures and great prices, not the ambiance. Click here to see PA Nina’s adorable animal print and glitter gradation from Marie. Solid Calgels are $35. Glitter gradations and nail art starting at $40.
Quality of solid mani = 5, prices = 4, salon experience = 4, nail art possibilities = 5
Total = 18
Valley NYC 198 Elizabeth Street between Spring and Prince in Nolita
I really, really wanted to love Valley NYC. It’s a cute little combination of beauty salon and vintage clothing shop offering manicures, waxing, and other spa treatments. My manicure here was on the messy side (not good if you’re planning to keep it for 2-3 weeks), and I definitely had an awkward customer service experience. Solid Calgels are $45. Glitter gradations and nail art starting at $65.
Quality of solid mani = 2, prices = 2, salon experience = 3, nail art possibilities = 3
Total = 10
Pure Nail Salon 927 Fulton Street between Waverly and Clinton in Clinton Hill
This little Brooklyn gem is your average neighborhood nail spot, except that they have brilliantly decided to offer Calgel manicures at a great price. PA Thea found it on yelp and last week PA Jessie joined us in a little Calgel manicure trio at Pure. The manager of the salon told us that they had tried other gel polish brands and found that the quality wasn’t up to snuff. Patrons’ nails were getting damaged underneath their gels, so they did their research and got on board with Calgel. The quality of the manicure I got a Pure was on par with the best I’ve had and the manager was a complete doll (she custom mixed a brilliant green color at no extra cost!). Solid Calgels are $30. Glitter gradations and nail art starting at $45. No website.
Quality of solid mani = 4, price = 5, salon experience = 3, nail art possibilities = 3
Total = 15Sakura Nail and Spa 35 East 1st Street between 1st and 2nd Ave in the East Village
You can read my full review of Sakura here. It’s generally a delightful experience and my manicures here have been lovely every time. They also offer facials and other spa treatments although I’ve never tried them. Hand painted nail art is their specialty. Solid Calgels are $40. Glitter gradations and nail art starting at $60.
Quality of solid mani = 5, prices = 3, salon experience = 5, nail art possibilities = 5
Total = 18
It’s a tie between Marie and Sakura, with Pure coming in at a solid 3rd place. Sakura wins for high-quality nail art, Marie wins for combination of high quality and low cost, and Pure is where I’d go if I wanted to walk in without an appointment for a solid color Calgel. Dope options for dope manicures!