Nail Me BAires: MALBA on my Nails!

I’ve never been visually artistic. I can’t draw or paint and I sure as hell can’t make any sort of sculptures. Doodling has always  been a source of shame because my doodles are just straight up ugly. Despite having two artists for grandfathers, none of the visual art genes were passed on to me. Don’t they say that the younger siblings are  the more artistic ones? We’ll that’s 100% the case in my family. Lil’ sissy got it all and I’m only a little bitter. I do get the advantage of some of the paintings, drawings and clothes she designs. And she also has to set the table on special occasions. I’ll take that as a win.

But just because I can’t make art myself doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it. Which is why when I saw the write up of NailMe Buenos Aires on BA expat blog MyBeautifulAir I couldn’t help myself. I was just about to embark on an incredible week of travel in Colombia (hence the post hiatus!!) with a group of friends from high school (not nearly as weird as it may sound) and crazy nails seemed like the perfect send off, like my version of dying my hair. I am a major nail color wuss and always tend to get basic colors.The big reason I like the bold OPI polish Cajun Shrimp is the name. 

But NailMe’s website was exciting in its inspired take on the basic manicure. So I made my reservation with Kristin G.

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Getting a manicure is often a spur of the moment decision with some sort of element of pampering and relaxation in mind, right? This is a little bit different.

First of all Kristin works in a “studio”. Its obvious that the art comes first (as it so should, just wait and see); just like any artist she needs her own space. She mentioned that the small extra room in her new Las Cañitas apartment was an added bonus when looking around for a new home base.

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I got comfortable on my side of the table while she went off to grab her computer so we could listen to music. Everything was free and easy, as if I had cajoled a friend into painting my nails for me. We chatted about some people we knew in common (BA is so tiny) and our common love of and longing for spicy. Turns out Kristin knows how to make a mean Thai curry! I’ll definitely see about making my own coconut milk in my food-processor now…

We turned to nails and she asked me what color I wanted. I chose purple because, well, why not. She asked what kind of design I was looking for. I hadn’t come particularly prepared, but I blurted out Mexican art. My friend and I had been talking about Mexican skull tattoos recently and it seemed like a solid choice. Her most used color scheme in photos I had seen matched nicely anyway. She seemed relieved that I had chosen a theme, remarking that she had been doing a lot of Andes region fabric inspired nails.

We started off with a full clipping, shaping and beautifying of my nails–salon worthy results I can never achieve myself. Then after googling for a second she painted three nails purple and two yellow on each hand, pulled out her incredible array of nail painting tools and paints and went in for the kill. I asked her how many nail polishes she has because they were practically spilling out of the boxes. She said she didn’t even know! I’d call that a healthy addiction. 

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Kristin does everything free hand. No decals or stencils at all. She makes things up as she goes along, following color palates in a way that a category F artist like myself could never dream of accomplishing. She said she started painting her own nails, then nails of friends just because she enjoyed it. Eventually she realized she could sell it as a skill here in BA. She even had a stint painting faces at Kika’s Hype on Tuesday nights and custom paints sunglasses in cool neon colors. 

We chatted on and on as the paint slowly spread over each one of my nails. Shes been an English teacher for a while, although she is now in a graduate school getting a masters as well. Talking comes easy to her and her studies and experiences colored our conversation, making the hour and a half nail session fly by. At one point she mentioned that a group of girls had contracted her to do a wine and nail night–they provided the wine. Is that not the perfect addition to any grown-up slumber party? 

Finally my nails were done and dried. So naturally we took a little photo shoot. 

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 Is that not just INCREDIBLE? 

Throughout the next two weeks I got compliments all over the place. My roommate (who has been toying with the idea of a skull tattoo and lived in Mexico) almost died on the spot. Two hostesses on the airplane to Colombia couldn’t stop talking about and touching my hands. My friends from high school wanted them for themselves. A vendor in Cartagena stopped me to ask questions about the “artist” who had painted my nails. I even got multiple compliments from male friends. I couldn’t help but be a walking talking advertisement!

Also, this manicure held up! After accidentally melting the design on a nail or two a bit when cooking right when I got home (I take full responsibility for my stupidity…) the paint stayed put. Keep in mind that I was traveling in Colombia for a full week. Almost two weeks later there were only minor chips and my nails stilled looked like a miniature exhibit out of MOMA. Its blurry, but you get the gist more or less…

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And then comes the price tag. All things considered, its a freaking steal for the work done. A full paint job like mine will set you back AR 70, about double the price of a simple color in a salon. It might not be something you get every week, but on special occasions it can and should definitely be justified. Rarely are you going to find something so unique and cool!

If you don’t feel like you can splurge for the full job, Kristen charges only AR 30 to get designs on two nails. That means you can get jazzy nails (mixed mani, whatever you want to call it!) for less than a boring manicure would cost you at a salon. Now you have no excuses. 

Kristin is also running a promo for 2×1 manicures (either with a friend or on your second visit) if you mention the MyBeautifulAir post! Take advantage while you can!

Here’s the full price list from NailMe’s website:

  • 25ARS – MACHO – Plain manicure, no colors
  • 30ARS – SIMPLE – Manicure, 1 color, 2 nail designs (Or add 5ARS per each detailed nail design)
  • 50ARS – SUPER – Simple designs, shatter, glitter, 2-3 colors (Includes all nails)
  • 70ARS – DELUXE –  The works; every nail detailed with full colors and designs, all glitter and gems included

So go head, get your MOMA nails. It will make you feel like an artist for a day.

NailMe Baires

Contact for appointments: nailmeglowme@gmail.com

Feature of the Week-er: Nailin’ it


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Summer means exposed feet. It also means (hopefully) lots of schmoozing on rooftop bars with colorful cocktails in your hands. Your hands will be looked at no matter what you do and I am sure you’ve heard that clean hands/nails make a good impression (which means men can definitely get in on the action). Hell, it’s also just nice to have someone massaging your cuticles from time to time. But no one wants to spend a lot; and that’s where I come in.

You can stop by your local hair salon and cross your fingers that the person who does your nail doesn’t leave you with something worse (a little advice: nail rape via nail file in the hands of a very angry woman let me with claws…cringe). As prices currently stands (though not for long…THANKS INFLATION) My suggestion is seeking out some place that specializes. Prices usually run from AR 30+ for a manicure and 60+ for a pedicure, though some vary depending on the nail polish you choose.

Let me introduce you to my favorite, Avanceê in Recoleta. The nice thing about this place is that it specializes in nails, which means they have all the appropriate tools and furniture. The place is white and clean, though not sterile looking by any means. Chairs are comfortable and color choices are varied.

Prices are very fair—AR 35 for manicure and AR 70 for pedicure. Waxing is available.

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Some Tips:

Bring your own nail polish, ladies. They charge an extra AR 15 just to use the “good” stuff (Revlon). I’d rather bring my own anyway.

Call ahead to avoid having to wait, although you might have to anyway.

Study up on your lingo beforehand if you’re Spanish isn’t too strong. The ladies speak mostly Spanish although I already gave them a cheat sheet!nail3

Avanceê, Azcuénaga 1849 (in between Las Heras and the Cemetery)

4807-0032

Monday, 2 to 9 PM, Tuesday to Saturday, 10 AM to 9 PM, CLOSED Sundays