It’s not long in Beijing before you’ll catch a whiff of that unmistakable ethyl acetate thanks to nail salons shoved in seemingly every corner of every market. Like massages, they are a pampering perk of the city – it’s easy to find a place to keep the digits polished, no matter the budget and, more importantly, regardless of gender.
When we went to Pure Nails in Central Park to complete our feature’s photo shoot, we were delighted to witness a woman drag in her beau and playfully (seriously) attempt to talk the manicurist into giving him gel nails, a nail polish option that can last two to three weeks. Our own male model didn’t go quite that far, but partly with his unabashed help, we can now guide you and your man through getting your next mani or pedi in Chinese. Date night, anyone?
FOR THE LADIES
Acrylic (lasts 2-3 weeks): 水晶指甲, shuǐjīng zhǐjiǎ
French tips: 法式修甲, fàshì xiūjiǎ
Gel (lasts 2-3 weeks, uses a UV lamp, 光疗灯, guāngliáo dēng): 甲胶, jiāo
OPI color (lasts 2-3 days): OPI 指甲光泽剂, zhǐjiǎ guāngzé jì
OPI Sand (lasts 4-5 days): 磨砂甲油, móshā jiayou
WHAT DO I ASK FOR?
OPI or regular?
Some technicians will ask you whether you want the one-time-use OPI tools or use tools that have been sterilized (消毒, xiāodú). The latter is cheaper and not always offered upfront, so make sure to ask. OPI polish generally comes in more colors and lasts a little bit longer than the budget brands.
Technicians will ask whether you prefer your nails long (长, zhǎng) or short (短, duǎn). Before they cut, they may ask, "what kind of shape would you like?" (你想要做什么形状的指甲? Nǐ xiǎng yào zuò shénme xíngzhuàng de zhǐjiǎ? ) You must be prepared to tell them whether you want a round nail (圆的, yuán de), a square nail (方的, fāng de), or a nail with rounded corners (方圆的, fāng yuán de). If you need to take polish off, just ask for nail polish remover (洗甲水, qù guāng shuǐ) or acrylic remover (卸甲液, xiejiǎ yè) .
I want my own design: 指甲样式设计, zhǐjiǎ yàngshì shèjì
Nail art: 指甲艺术, zhǐjiǎ yìshù
Top coat: 亮油, liàng yóu
Quick dry: 快干, kuài gān
Am I dry?: 我这个(甲油)干了吗? Wǒ zhège (jiǎ yóu) gànle ma?
Nail strengthener: 健甲液, jiànjiǎ yè
FOR THE GENTS
Why would a guy need a manicure? That’s the wrong question. Much better: Why not?
Sure, you could clip your own nails, but more than likely they’ll look like you bit them instead of spent time trimming them. With a no-polish manicure costing, on average, only RMB 20, better to let a professional do it. Are you cutting your own hair too? Maybe we shouldn’t ask. Besides, there was a time when men got their hair cut at a barbershop, and a manicure was part of the program. Unless you actually are a lumberjack, your hands don’t need to look like it.
A manicure is important for special occasions, including job interviews, or any time when another person or people will notice detail. Think of it as being as important shining your shoes or ironing your shirt.
One group of men that should consider regular manicures is nail biters. Biting one’s nails is seen as particularly disgusting in China, and getting a regular trim, buff, and shine is a way to break the habit.
For men, it’s simple. Ask for xiú shǒu, bù yào dǎ là 修手, 不要打蜡. Technically that means “no wax” (like at the car wash), but that’s the phrase for not wanting polish. Your manicurist will ask if you want the nails cut yuán de 圆的 (rounded) or zhī de 直的 (straight) – that’s up to you, but rounded will look more natural, and straight may look, well, bitten.
The other important part is to make sure that she/he trims the cuticles jiǎo zhì céng 角质层. This is the skin around the nail that can be dry or broken, and so cleaning it up is as important as trimming the nail itself.
Let your feet get some sun, but not before you show them a bit of love. Salons usually offer basic pedicures (修脚, xiu jiao), with add-ons like a foot mask (脚膜, jiǎo mó), foot scrub (足部去角质, zubu qu jiaozhi), and a massage (按摩, Ànmó) at extra cost.
WHERE TO GO
FOR NAIL ART:
Pure Nail Work
Room 105A, Building 16, Central Park, 6 Chaowai Dajie, Chaoyang District (6597 9609)
GK Korean Nail Salon
Daily 10am-9.30pm. 1/F, Wangfujing Oriental Plaza Mall, 1 Dongchang’an Jie, Dongcheng District (8518 6352)
QUALITY ON A BUDGET:
Lily Nails (eight locations)
Shop 4, 1/F (east side), Yashow Clothing Market, 58 Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District (5944 0872)
Nacho and Dai
Daily 10am-10pm. Unit 23, Bldg 2, 22 International Art Plaza, Pingod, 32 Baiziwan Lu (east of Today Art Museum), Chaoyang District (5826 4431)
Daily 10am-10pm. B1/F, Block BC, Chaowai Soho, B6 Chaoyangmenwai Dajie, Chaoyang District (5900 1868)
GIRLS NIGHT OUT:
Mon-Fri 7.30am-2am, Sat-Sun 11am-2am. 55 Xingfucun Zhonglu (in the alleyway across from April Gourmet), Chaoyang District. (6417 5430)
Morpho Helena Nail Salon
Daily 11am-10.30pm. 1/F, Bldg 16, Chaoyangmen Nandajie (west end of Yabao Lu), Chaoyang District (8563 3403)
Minnie's Nail Salon
Daily Noon-10pm. Rm 705, 7/F, Bldg 3A, 22 International Art Plaza, Pingod, 32 Baiziwan Lu (east of Today Art Museum), Chaoyang District (5876 9697)
Daily 11am-11pm. Unit 1-103, Bldg 42, Sanlitun Nanjie, Chaoyang District (131 2677 5710)
Kocoon Spa Lounge
Daily 11am-9.30pm. Rm C301, 3/F, North Bldg, Nali Patio, 81 Sanlitun Beijie, Chaoyang District (5208 6068)
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