Hello everyone! I entitled this post Hidden Gem merely for the fact that the location of this nail salon is tucked away in such an unexpected place. I met Kate of Nail Kandy a few years ago through mutual friends and first experienced her nail artistry when she worked at the now closed Pinky’s Toronto on Richmond (although they do apparently still operate semi-privately via appointments.) Since then, Kate has won numerous awards at the Canadian Nail Cup and gained so much knowledge of the nail and manicure industry that anyone going to her will feel confident not only in her artistic abilities, but also her passion for educating others about safety and hygiene when it comes to nail salons.
She opened up her cozy little shop (total #girlboss) in one of the rooms at Toronto tattoo staple, New Tribe Tattoo on Queen St West right near John. I love the juxtaposition of the typical tattoo shop aeshetic versus Kate’s adorable and girly set up.
First things first – all of the photos except for the one of my hands/nails are from the Nail Kandy Facebook page because it was a crazy experience (so I apologize for the inconsistent sizing.) Crazy in the sense that I’ve finally realized I’m never going back to my go-to cheapie salon for a gel manicure. Here’s the sitch: right before Thanksgiving I realized my nails needed some TLC, but by the time I decided this, Raw Beauty Bar was fully booked and so was Kate. So as a last resort, I went back to the place I’d been to in Etobicoke for several years. I don’t know what they did but when Kate went to remove my gel mani with acetone and cotton balls as per usual, it would not come off. It literally took an hour and 15 minutes as opposed to the standard 10. We speculated that since the place I got it done uses dremels to remove gel (which FYI – is NOT a nail tool and is in fact a tool used in construction) they over-cure the polish since they’ll be industrial-strength filing it down anyway (yikes!) Kate fortunately rose to the occasion and accepted the challenge and was very patient and eventually got it all off. So basically by the time we were finished (nearly 3 hours later to no fault of Kate of course) I had to rush out to head to Hamilton as the HF was cooking me an amazing dinner
I opted for the Fall Apple Manicure which is her seasonal special to pamper my hands. After soaking them in an Epsom salt bath, I was treated to a Cranberry-Pumpkin-Apple cream scrub. I felt so relaxed and immediately felt better after having such a strange day. Kate does not use any metal tools to remove cuticles either, since as it turns out, when the skin around your nails is excessively cut, your body will keep growing more since it is one of your immune systems’ defenses. Instead, she uses a little serum which is basically like a gently chemical peel that eats away at dead skin (yum!) and it works like magic! I really enjoyed feeling comfortable asking Kate to explain different components of the manicure and also common shortcuts some salons will take that may compromise your safety.
I’m not a Hallowe’en person so the closest to the theme I could be okay with was black and gold. I am a big fan of geometric designs and I just love this combination. I also got to experience nail stamping (on my ring fingers) for the first time which was pretty cool.
All in all, whenever I need a mani I will definitely be coming back to see Kate if I’m downtown (or my girl Lauren at Raw Beauty Bar in Etobicoke since I work in Rexdale.) After that mutant polish fiasco, I am never skimping on mani’s again and will gladly go somewhere I know has a high standard in terms of quality as well as health and safety.
Nail Kandy is located inside New Tribe Tattooing and Piercing at 232 Queen St. West, Toronto. You can book an appointment now with Kate via StyleSeat (go for the Fall Apple Mani and tell her Liz sent ya!) You can also check out her Facebook page and be sure to follow her on Instagram at @Nail.Kandy.
Seriously – it’s alarming how many places cut corners and when it comes to your health – you’ve gotta be informed! You can definitely feel confident with Kate (plus she’s just so sweet she’s like a cartoon princess!)
Thanks so much for stopping by!