Pampering in the city: Best nail salons, some cause-worthy (GMA News Online)

The Nail Lounge Manila

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last November 30, 2013)

A common way to de-stress is to go to the spa. But instead of getting a massage, I prefer to head to a nail spa where I can indulge my hands and feet—after all, these are two of my most used body parts.

Treating myself to a decent mani-pedi while relishing some alone time is the best way for me to indulge and instantly feel relaxed and presentable. There are quite a number of nail salons in the metro; however, here are my top picks on where to get the ultimate nail pampering experience.

The Nail Lounge Manila

“We wanted to have a shop that visually men won’t find intimidating,” said Francis Chiu, a co-owner along with Ralph Jason Cobiaco. “I wanted to make sure that it reflects the aesthetic that me (sic) and my partner have.”

Chiu is in charge of the establishment’s day-to-day operations. Both were in their 30s when they conceptualized The Nail Lounge, their first business venture.

At the center of the room was a common table where guests could hang out. Some people go there both to get treatments and to work, as the place has a pretty fast Wi-Fi. Chiu mentioned that they boosted the Wi-Fi since he brings his laptop there to work as well.

I made my way to one of the plush black leather seats and availed of the Ultra-Luxe treatment, which includes spa manicure, spa pedicure, and hand and foot paraffin. I got lost in my own little world as soon as they offered me a refreshing beverage and a white fluffy blanket, which elevated my nail spa experience.

According to Chiu, “We really spend on things that we know the customers would appreciate—the finer details in the comfort level, equipment that we use, focus on cleanliness, overall service. That’s the core competency that we have for the nail salon.”

Two nail technicians catered to me and both were very meticulous in cleaning my fingernails, scrubbing my feet, what have you. It took a while for me to decide on the color of my nails, as they offered a plethora of nail brands. The classic line featured Seche; the premium line included Orly, O.P.I., and L’Oréal; while the luxe line has Butter London and Lancôme. I finally settled on getting the gel polish to see what the hype was all about.

“For the women, we wanted to make sure that we have a good variety of nail polish brands, but we also wanted to focus on the good ones,” shared Chiu.

At some point, I dozed off and didn’t notice that two hours passed by already. I vowed that I would come back and avail of the other services such as nail art, waxing, threading, and make-up, among others.

The spacious establishment also accommodates sparties, which is big enough for 21, depending on the event. The Nail Lounge offers different options and is also flexible enough to customize a package for you.

The Nail Lounge Manila is located at 3/F Makati Golf Club, Malugay St., Bel-Air, Makati City; telephone number: (02) 869-8521; mobile number: (0915) 805-3696;; email: [email protected].

Manos Nail Lounge

“We really emphasize that we’re Filipino. If you notice the design it’s modern Filipino, kind of reminds you of home. I think what we really wanted to build at the start (was) not just a nail salon that offered premium services, (but) one that really sort of connected to social work,” shared Felice Caringal, a co-owner along with Carissa Mangubat and Ynez Alcid.

The three ladies, all 20-something, were high school classmates who decided to go into their first business venture together.

“Manos means hands in Spanish. The main idea behind it is honoring the hands of the Filipinos, whether it’s the hands of our nail technicians, hands the people who built this place, and hands of the social enterprises that we work with,” according to Caringal. “[The] different stuff we have here, we source locally—the scrubs, for example, are organic and are made by a local social enterprise that helps empower women.”

The pillows were made in Gawad Kalinga Payatas, the chairs were from Pampanga, and the abaca blinds from Marinduque.

I gladly took a seat in one of the native long-back chairs and availed of the Spa Treatment that has the classic mani-pedi, plus extended massage. The nail technician let me choose from the four different scent selections and I got the one with the awakening combination of eucalyptus, peppermint, and barako coffee.

These two were the most precise nail technicians I ever encountered. I liked how they expertly trimmed my nails and colored them with the vegan nail polish brand, Zoya. Manos has other nail polish brands such as O.P.I., Essie, Channel, and Butter, and customers who visit this December will be happy to know that part of the proceeds go to Mano Amiga, a local school which the three young entrepreneurs support. They plan to help raise funds for the scholars of the institution.

Manos also showcases some social enterprises like Human Nature and Theo & Philo. “We try to be an outlet also for social enterprises—for their products to reach the market,” said Caringal.

Aside from the social aspect, what makes Manos stand out is its beverage selection, which includes cocktails and beers—perfect for the men who accompany their partners to an appointment. The impressive list of drinks could also be served during sparties. The venue can accommodate 11 people at the same time.

Besides the usual mani-pedi, Manos also offers other services like paraffin, nail art, massage, and hair removal.

Manos Nail Lounge is located at Unit 2-I Crescent Park Residences, 30th St. corner 2nd Ave., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig; telephone number: (02) 478-4057; mobile number (0917) 315-6627; website:

St. Nails Nail Spa

My other nail salon discovery is situated at a surprising location—a gas station. I was amused to find one in the heart of the metro, but I never guessed I would be in for a surprise.

My eyes wandered around the area and its elegant interiors—from the onyx stone counter, to the wooden wall panels, the black-and-white Machuca floor tiles, and the plush purple seats. Indeed, this seems like a nice place to feel pampered.

As I sank down one of the customized seats, one of the staff offered me a warm herbal pillow to put on my neck and a drink to go along with it, while they prepared for my selected treatment called Pamper Me Now, which involves the usual mani-pedi, plus hand and foot spa.

I appreciated the service more when I heard that a portion of the sales goes to the establishment’s partner community, Gawad Kalinga (GK) Silver Heights. St. Nails helps the organization build homes and employ GK residents so they would have a sustainable income.

Those who want to get their nails done—for a cause—should visit St. Nails, which carries an array of polishes like Sally Hansen, Orly, O.P.I., Misa, and Butter London. It offers paraffin, waxing, and sparty packages, too. St. Nails gives the client the liberty of decorating the space for sparties, which could comfortably accommodate around seven at a time.

St. Nails is located at G/F NFB Building (Petron Gas Station), EDSA corner Arnaiz Avenue, Brgy. Dasmariñas Village, Makati City; telephone number: (02) 586-0985; mobile number (0917) 86-NAILS (62457).