Korean nail art is top of the line! Despite getting a later start in the industry compared to other countries, Korean nail art continually keeps up with the latest trends while maintaining attention to detail and the newest techniques. A quick search for “nailart” on Instagram will show plenty of examples of the Korean style. During your time in Korea, be sure to stop in to get your nails done!
Find a nail salon There are many nail salons and nail bars throughout the country, including large franchises and small privately operated shops. You can easily find locations in downtown areas and business districts like Myeong-dong, Gangnam, Hongik University, and Ehwa Womans University. Because the style of each shop varies based on the technicians, do some research on the shops you're interested in through Instagram or the app Gelato. Planning ahead is key, as most shops do not accept same-day reservations.
Pick a design When you arrive at the nail salon, the technician will ask what procedure you would like. You can get a manicure, pedicure, or a set with both! You should also pick a design. You can prepare examples of what you would like to show the artist, or pick something on display in the shop.
If you're not sure what to get done, we recommend the signature Korean nail art of gel nails. Gel nails use acrylic paint that bonds with your nail base through light, making it strong and long-lasting. It's a bit pricier than regular nail polish, but it's a more popular option for the staying power. Beyond the basic gel nail manicure, you can also request to add beads, cubic zirconia, or painted designs.
Get your nails done
After you've selected the design you want, you can get started! Most nail art procedures take one to one and a half hour from start to finish, although it could be longer depending on the difficulty of the design you picked. The technician will start out with basic nail care - trimming your cuticles, removing any calluses built up around the nails, and applying a base coat of nail strengthener. With these steps out of the way, the artist will begin to paint your nails! After a final time under the drying lamp, the technician will rub oil or hand cream over your hands and nails. With such pretty hands, you'll keep looking for ways to show them off!
- Need-to-know info for nail salons
Franchises: Golden Nail, Nail Gallery, Angel Nail, Oli's Nail, etc.
Privately operated: Downtown & business districts throughout the nation
Care & treatment: 10,000~30,000 won
Gel nail art: 30,000~200,000 won
* Fees vary by location; pedicure generally 1.5 times the price of manicure
Discounts available for “Art of the Month” or when signing up for a membership
* Discounts vary by location