1. Wah Nails, London
Wah Nails’ founder Sharmadean Reid is possibly the coolest woman alive. In 2005 she started up a zine, Wah, that covered the London hip-hop scene with a distinctly new-wave feminist angle. The brand has evolved into one of the most iconic nail salons in the world, and is largely credited with bringing nail art into the UK mainstream.
2. I Scream Nails, Melbourne
I Scream Nails does super-cute clean designs! It also has a Nail Art Bike you can spot being ridden around Melbourne, delivering nail art to the people.
3. Nail Swag, Los Angeles
Nail Swag’s motto is spot on: “This is not your average manicure.” It specialises in blinged-up, super intricate designs.
4. Britney Tokyo, Los Angeles
Britney Tokyo is a person, not a nail salon, and getting an appointment with her is pretty impossible. But she’s one of the best nail artists working today, possibly the best ever, so she deserves to be on the list. Now mainly hopping around Hollywood doing the nails of the stars, she specialises in trippy, mega detailed nails, often featuring decals of famous faces.
5. Trophy Wife Nail Art, Melbourne
Trophy Wife founder Chelsea Bagan started nail art as a hobby; now Trophy Wife nails can be seen on catwalks and magazines. Trophy Wife has a varied style, but really shines when doing tasteful and simplistic.
6. Astrowifey, Chicago
Astrowifey, like Britney Tokyo, isn’t technically a whole salon, just one hella talented lady. She does freelance appointments in Chicago that aren’t impossible to get, as well as magazine work. And judging by her level of detail, she has probably the steadiest hands in the business.
7. Lexi Martone, New York
Lexi Martone specialises in 3D designs, but she’s also pretty good at everything else. Even though her nails have been worn by J-Lo and Katie Holmes, she’s still open to the public, and you can get an appointment too!
8. Nailroom Poche, Tokyo
Nailroom Poche is the place to go for the iconic 3D nail bling pioneered in Japan, but also caters for those with more subtle tastes. Bonus: It does fab pedicures too!
9. This Is Venice, Paris
This Is Venice does a great subtle classy manicure. And an equally great twerk-themed manicure. Bringing some chic French to the nail art world.
10. Hey Nice Nails, Long Beach
Hey Nice Nails is run by sister duo Donne and Ginnie Geer, who do the most beautiful, delicate nails.
11. Nails by Mei, New York
Nails by Mei is another freelancer rather than a salon, but no one else is doing the kind of designs she is. Make sure to book an appointment if you want your favourite hot sauce on your middle finger.
12. Ghetto Nailz, Madrid
Ghetto Nailz girls Jessica Abou Nassar, Laura Mendez, and Andrea Delgado brought nail art to Spain and did it well, specialising in loud colours and bold designs.
15. Spifster, Chicago
Spifster offers a wide range of designs, but its best work is abstract designs with clever colour combinations.
16. Sparkle, San Francisco
Sparkle can put pretty much whatever you want on a nail, with style. Bring in some inspiration and ask for a themed nail!
17. The Illustrated Nail, London
The Illustrated Nail’s bold, clean aesthetic can be seen in many magazines, and if you visit the salon, on your nails too!