Editor’s note: This Vs. That is Travel Boulder’s weekly comparison guide designed to help you pick the activities, food, drinks, hotels and events that best fit your preferences. It’s like if a traditional newspaper review had a love child with Yelp, except always reliably researched and experienced firsthand by our local writers. Because sometimes you can best understand an option by seeing what it is not and by placing it side by side with something else.
Maybe it’s a special occasion and you want to shine from your fingertips to your toes. Or maybe you just need some relaxation time with some much-needed grooming. Whether you’re just passing through or a local looking for a top-of-the-line mani-pedi, Boulder has a handful of nail salons to pick from.
But this is Boulder, after all. So these aren’t your run-of-the-mill, in-and-out, mall-style nail kiosks. Boulder’s nail technicians are highly trained and talented, and natural products are at the heart of what they offer. In Boulder, it can be hard to choose a salon — because there are so many excellent options. Here’s a look at two of the most reputable: The Nail Studio and JLounge.
The Nail Studio
2425 Canyon Blvd., Boulder
Background: Three women (all mothers) opened the Nail Studio in 2008. This summer, they will celebrate the business’s 10-year anniversary. They are each highly experienced and have each been doing nails for about two decades.
The Nail Studio is regularly awarded Best of Boulder awards.
The full-service nail studio, off Canyon Street in a small strip mall, is within walking distance of three of Boulder’s newest hotels.
Offerings: The specialty here is natural nail care and nail art; no fake nails. The product line includes OPI, CND and the all-natural Zoya line.
The studio recently began offering powder-dipped nails, by one technician, to see how the community responds.
“We are dabbling in the idea … just exploring it, because Boulder is such a natural place,” says Kelly Wyatt, manager.
In addition to nails, The Nail Studio offers waxing and facial services (using the Lira Clinical line), including microdermabrasion, Dermaplaning and peels. Here, you can get your legs waxed before your pedicure.
What makes it different: One of the owners is from Boulder and the other two have lived here most of their adult lives, Wyatt says. All of the owners are moms and all of the nail technicians are too.
The Nail Studio has many regulars, which makes it feel like a family. Many clients know each other and have been going there for years.
The Nail Studio is not a destination spa where you can spend all day, but it’s also not a quick, walk-in nail spot. Expect to spend about an hour here for each service.
Oh, and well-mannered dogs are welcome.
Unique offering: One unique offering is henna “tattoos.” Two of the technicians here (including one of the owners) are from Nepal. One of these women can do a henna tattoo on your hands or feet to complement your mani or pedi. (Note: She’s currently on maternity leave.)
Tips: “We’d love to say we can handle walk-ins but it can be challenging, so if you know you’re coming to town and will have some down time, advanced planning is better,” Wyatt says.
Also, she says, don’t neglect your nails and skin in the winter months, even if your feet will be buried under socks. Dry Colorado weather can wreak havoc on your cuticles. Add a paraffin wax dip to your manicure to add some moisture.
JLounge and Spa
3003 Walnut St.
Background: JLounge is all about safe, healthy, effective, pure beauty treatments, including nails. This spa avoids harsh chemicals and looks for organic, clean (natural and plant-based) products.
Two women founded the spa in 2013, when they were looking for a natural day spa in a lounge-like environment. (One of the founder’s husband died of skin cancer.)
The spa is located in central Boulder.
Offerings: You can get your nails done and designed here using natural, “farm-to-finger” products. That means no toxins or harsh chemicals; organic and sustainable ingredients; and no animal testing. Ingredients are plant-derived and certified organic.
JLounge also offers skincare, facials, massage, waxing, tinting and a small boutique for shopping.
What makes it different: The emphasis on ingredients is unique. In addition to safe nail treatments, JLounge offers skincare and even has its own skincare line, JLOrganics. This line uses plant- and food-based ingredients with no parabens, dyes, toxins, chemicals, sulfates or phthalates. The certified organic ingredients even aim to support fair trade and needy people around the world, and packaging is recyclable.
Unique offering: A unique offering here is general acupuncture, which you can add to your manicure and pedicure. Ask about the acu add-on, a general balancing treatment; a 10-minute chair acupuncture session that you can get while receiving a mani or pedi; or even facial rejuvenation acupuncture, which claims to improve circulation and cellular renewal. The spa says this can reduce signs of aging, and it’s non-invasive.
Tips: JLounge offers special party packages that are great for a bridal shower, birthday, friends’ day out or baby shower. An expecting mother can book a Hot Mama treatment, which includes a prenatal massage, mani-pedi and refreshments. Or ask about The One and Only treatment, a full day of pampering that includes a facial, mani, pedi and Swedish massage.