I first became obsessed with nail art a few years ago. It's a fun way to spice up my personal style, and it make me feel fancy to have my nails done. I especially love holiday manicures for all the special occasions this season affords.
Akyish Japanese Retreat and Spa
11014 Westheimer Rd.
There's a large community of nail art aficionados on social media, with countless blogs, Pinterest boards, Reddit forums and Instagram hashtags devoted to the art form. Which is how I happened upon Akyish Japanese Retreat and Spa — a friend tagged me in one of their Instagram photos.
Akyish, which opened about seven months ago in Westchase, is Houston's first Japanese nail art salon, said Aki Ishiguro, salon manager. The salon started as an mobile manicure service for Japanese clients in Houston. Word spread quickly, and soon, the nail technicians at Akyish decided to open a salon to keep up with customer demand.
In Japan, nail and skin care is lightyears ahead of the United States. While salons in Texas have been offering gel manicures for a handful of years, Japanese salons have been doing gel manis for more than a decade, Ishiguro said. Japanese nail art is distinguished by 3D effects, created either by gluing fimo or plastic decorations on the nail, or by hand-painting using a 3D acrylic nail polish. Akyish's motto is “an eye for detail” and that eye is firmly set on creating a high-quality manicure. The salon itself is modestly decorated — there is no large flat screen TV or cheap wine service, which leaves the impression that the majority of the salon's energy goes into creating a custom artful manicure for each client.
Ishiguro said Akyish uses techniques that are less-damaging than traditional gel manicures, including LED lamps as opposed to UV lamps, and a new type of polish that doesn't require sanding for removal. Akyish's manicures last upwards of four weeks, which means less frequent manis, thus less frequent exposure to damaging chemicals like acetone.
Holiday designs include gold accents like snowflakes, or a 3D effect that looks like the coziest cable-knit sweater. If that doesn't inspire you, the salon is home to stacks and stacks of Japanese nail art magazines such as Nail Up! that feature thousands of designs per issue. And Ishiguro said the salon's techs can realize pretty much any idea a client can dream up. “We have had clients ask for anime characters, tv characters,” she said. “We don't say no to anything.” Check out Akyish's Instagram account for a small sampling of their work.