Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Salon Glitter Cal Gel nails

I wanted to get my nails done (with gel/acrylic) since they're getting kind of long, and I don't want them to break. I usually just do my nails myself because it's cheaper, but 2 or 3 times a year, I'll splurge and go to a salon to treat myself. This time I was specifically going for a service that I can't do myself (Cal gel) to help me preserve the length. When I do go to a salon, I like to get designs that I can't execute myself so that typically means 3D designs.
My favorite nail salon is Salon Cherie in Waikiki, but they're closed until April ヽ(´□`。)ノso I decided to try the nail salon that's right next to my new favorite restaurant on Keeamoku. I had seen that a few other people I (barely) know had gone there and thought it was worth a try after reading through the reviews on Yelp.
Salon Glitter is located on the Diamond Head side of Keeamoku Street across from the McDonalds near Ala Moana and Wal Mart. It shares an entrance with Menchanko Tei (Japanese restaurant - highly recommend). You can park behind the building in the lot for free or find street parking.
I called on Wednesday to inquire about appointments for that upcoming weekend and Monday which was a holiday. They weren't yet booked on any of the days, but the only day they had an appt before noon was Monday. They had one slot at 10:00am (the time they open) so I thought it would be best to take that one since the Yelp reviews mentioned that they can get very behind. I knew that I wouldn't want to wait a long time in the reception area since getting my nails done would already take a couple hours. I did my best to explain what I wanted to get done, and the girl who answered the phone mentioned that they don't add on a lot of plastic parts, and the girl who would be doing my nails was not *the best* at doing 3D design and that they don't do a lot of it at the salon. I was planning on bringing my own nail deco stuff anyway so I thought that was fine.
I found a parking in the back lot at around 09:55 and left my car around 09:59 because I didn't want to be too early. I thought I had seen people waiting outside the entrance when I pulled in, so I thought it would just be better to wait in my car since that situation seemed a little uncomfortable to be in tbh lol. The people I had noted earlier (who I came to realize where 3 nail techs and another customer) were still waiting outside at 10:00, and it seemed that the owner was late to arrive. It was pretty awkward because we were all just kind of waiting on the street, and I was holding my caboodle with the deco stuff which was already odd-looking enough. I don't remember exactly how long it took for the owner to arrive, but it was less than 12 minutes, I think. I didn't go in right away after they opened up because I could tell that they needed some time to get settled and prep.
When I did go in, the nail tech that was helping me (I never got her name unfortunately but I know it wasn't the owner and I could identify her if I went again) apologized for the wait and took me to her station immediately. We briefly discussed what I wanted and she started on the prep work (cuticles, nail shaping, etc).
[Sorry no pictures in the salon or during the process because I feel like it's just better to let the girl work on my nails instead of trying to handle my phone at the same time. Also because I typically don't like taking pictures inside small shops idk]
I wanted the nail design to be based on the Liz Lisa x My Melody print that was on the trunk. Luckily, the pouch that came in it also had the same pattern on it so I didn't have the lug the entire trunk to the salon.
I told the nail tech that I wanted a semi-deep french on all the nails except the ring finger and the design to be floral like the pouch print. She took her time with the french tip base and didn't seem like she was rushing which I thought was great. I expected to be there for a couple hours and would rather have it take longer if it means better attention to detail.
When it came to painting on the floral design, we discussed which flowers of the print I wanted included and at what size and color. I told her that smaller is better. I am really pleased with the details that she was able to include in the flowers. The pinky nail on my right hand is the most detailed because that's the one she did first and spent the most time on, and I really love it. Some people assumed that they were decals/stickers which I think is a real compliment to the nail tech. After she did a few nails, I realized that maybe smaller wasn't better (by which I mean not exactly what I expected) but I didn't dislike it enough to say anything tbh. She asked if I wanted the leaves also included, but after asking for her opinion, I decided to just leave them out.
Then, I think there was some sort of discussion about the base of the french tip. I though she asked if I wanted rhinestones, to which I answered, "yes". she asked me to pick out which color I wanted out of gel samples I realized that she meant (/I misheard) glitter, not rhinestones. I decided to just keep going with that anyway, and she added a pink glitter line to the base of the french.
I then picked out which 3D/plastic pieces I wanted from my caboodle (wtf) and we discussed which would go where. The only two pieces I knew that I wanted were the My Melody head and a 3D rose (to go with the print on the pouch) but I also picked out a few others and let her choose from what I had while saying "whatever you think is best" with placement "wherever you think is best". I ended up with 3 on my left hand and 3 on my right (ring, pointer and thumb for both hands).
After applying them with generous amounts of gel, she asked what I thought (as she had been doing throughout the appt) and I said good and asked about (rhine)stones. She okay'd pink colored stones and added them as details to all nails. Besides the final clean-up, top coat application, etc I was set.

The result -

[ Kind-of side story that's actually directly related -  when I went into my purse to get my wallet, I realized that it wasn't in there and went into a(n internal) panic.   I asked if I could go to my car to look for it, and after realizing that it wasn't there, I frantically called my bf who could not help me because he was fishing with his friends, and he hadn't driven. Luckily, his best friend lives about 10 minute away from the salon and knew where it was and was free to come and loan me the money to pay for the nails. What in the freaking world. I can't believe I left my house without my wallet! So embarrassing because I had to wait on the side for my bf's friend to arrive and explain what was going on and everyone in the salon heard and knew lol. I just feel so fortunate that someone was able to bail me out so quickly. My parents live over 45 minutes away and weren't readily available to come and bring me money, and I wouldn't expect the salon owner to just let me walk out of the salon with the "product" to go and come back because it was my first time there, and I wouldn't necessarily trust me either. OMFG.]

Anyway, because of that, my bf's friend has the receipt but I know the total was $95 and some change. It was something like $70 for the base and floral design + $10 for the glitter + $6 plastic parts application + $10 rhinestones. I tipped $10 which is my typical tip for nail sets unless I'm extraordinarily pleased...idk is this too little? What do you guys think?

 My thoughts:
 The location of the salon is very reasonable. It's 45ish minutes away from where I live, but good most things are. It's close to a lot of other places though, and I find it reasonably convenient especially because there's a free parking lot.
I didn't like that I had to wait outside after 10:00am but that's forgivable once. At least when I was finally able to go in, the nail tech was immediately able to work with me. I am glad that I took the earlier appt slot because I while I was there, I did notice that they do get behind. That being said, (based on my observations while being there for 2.5 hours) one of the reasons they seem to run behind is that they take care of each customer and don't rush through the appointments just to get them done in a specific time frame, and I do appreciate that.
The pricing is not unreasonable. It's $$$ on Yelp but I feel like what I paid is pretty standard around here. (General nails/manicures/pedicures are more expensive in Hawaii than on the mainland.) I've paid $120+ at Salon Cherie although that was for acrylic + extensions and more rhinestones and such so it's not exactly comparable. Slightly more comparable is the glitter gradient cal gel set I got done at Pure Nails on my natural nails that had 2-3D pieces and rhinestones on each nail - $100. So actually, Salon Glitter is cheaper imo for more work with the meticulously hand-painted flowers.

When I first saw the nails after the work was complete, I was a little less than pleased with them. Whenever people notice and ask about them, I get kind of embarrassed because I don't like them that much and end up mumbling a lot of excuses about how it didn't turn out how I wanted them to.
I like/appreciate the work that the nail tech put into the flowers, but I realized (too late) that I wanted some in bunches/that the nail tech wasn't doing some in bunches. I also think that maybe I should have asked to have the leaves included to add a little more...depth? and maybe the size of the flowers could have been a bit bigger. Additionally, the 3D work was not necessarily what I was expecting because I was used to getting something different from Salon Cherie. (P.S. the rhinestones in the heart on my left thumb I added in myself. It was hollow before and imo, looked really weird so I filled it.)

That being said, I take most of the responsibility for this. Throughout much of the process, especially with how she placed the 3D parts, I just sat there and smiled and said "whatever you think is best" and when she asked, "is this okay?", I always answered in the affirmative. This is partially because I don't like to be too pushy and demanding with the nail tech (I'd rather be polite and silent tbh even though I might end up with something I don't love wtf), but also in this specific situation, I wanted to know what the nail tech and this particular salon would do given somewhat "artistic freedom," if you will. Although I am somewhat particular/picky about nail art, I personally don't like to instruct each placement of each object, and I'm not used to doing that at Salon Cherie while still getting something that I want. Reason being, (and especially in this situation,) I don't know all the techniques that go into design and placement. Just because I'm unfamiliar with something, doesn't mean I want to immediately dismiss it to stick with things that I've done before - that's boring, and I always look to get new designs. When I get my nails done at a salon, I don't want something that I could have come up with myself ...because I could have just done that myself for much cheaper. By telling the nail tech "whatever you think was best", I suppose I was essentially "testing" to see how this nail tech/salon would do something that I normally get done/seeing how this salon would typically do something given that instruction. But yes, I am responsible for not speaking up and don't feel that the nail tech did a bad job - just that they did work that I personally don't care for in terms of aesthetics or what I was expecting.
For example, when I asked for rhinestones to be put on, I didn't realize she was just going to kind of randomly scatter them around (I thought they would be used to build more on the plastic parts) and also the pinky finger and middle finger rhinestone designs don't match up even though they look like they're supposed to. I had previously told her that I want each finger to be different, but this is not what I meant...and it doesn't really look purposeful.
The middle finger comparison/difference is a little harder to see because of the angle I took these at (and I had a hard time taking a picture of my right hand using my left hand to control the camera lol) but look at the right side. It just looks wonky to me. And I just realized that for the picture of my pinkies, my right pinky is on the left side and left pinky on the right side, but that's not super important - mostly just look at how the arrangement of the rhinestones is different.  (Again, this mismatch is something I noticed at the time she applied them, but I chose not to say anything so technically I'm also at fault.)

I now know that I shouldn't expect then to be a Salon Cherie substitute and that's perfectly fine. I would probably go back if I wanted a meticulous design without 3D parts, mostly because of the location and the price, but only if I could get a morning appt. [Tbh, Salon Cherie does excellent hand painting work as well for around the same price.] Apparently, the owner of Salon Glitter does the best work, so perhaps if I get my nails done again, I'll try and book an appt with her instead. I do like the nail tech who did my work though. She was polite and not unfriendly and didn't insist on small talk which I prefer. We did have a minor miscommunication (the glitter/rhinestone thing), but I made the choice not to correct it so that's not really her fault.

I definitely wanted to wait to write this "review" until after a few weeks had passed and for the most part, quality-wise, they seem to be holding up okay-ish. Not horrible, but not excellent. The base seems to be holding up pretty well after 3 weeks, but the strawberry (fell off at end of first week) and the bow have already fallen off. I managed to find the strawberry and re-glued it myself with superglue I had from a nail art kit and it seems to be holding up quite well now.
But the bow came off somewhere where I wasn't able to find/retrieve it. Since I provided all the 3D parts myself, I still have a few of that same bow and don't really like that particular style of bow that much so I didn't mind just gluing on another. The nail tech did mention to me that if anything fell off, I should save it and come back to the salon for her to fix it, but according to Yelp, they charge for this service (and apparently a substantial amount, not like $1) which I don't like + you'd still be obligated to tip on top of that. Pure Nail doesn't charge to put pieces back on unless it's like the 6th week or something.

Overall, Salon Glitter is a nice, small and clean salon in a good location with reasonable (understandable but not "cheap") prices. I would give them another chance for Cal Gel nails if Salon Cherie were unavailable again, but I would NOT try to get plastic parts put on or expect a fantastic 3D design. Although I have nothing against the nail tech who helped me this time, I would try to get an appointment with the owner to see if there's a difference in the workmanship.

Salon Glitter
903 Keeaumoku St C-101B,
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 949-2218


  1. Ah, where do you buy all your 3D bits and bobs? I really want to collect some of my own so I can do my own nails and I'm kinda jelly of your collection!! ^.^ I still like your nails btw. <3 I really like the flowers - your nail tech did an excellent job~

    1. I've gotten that question a few times so maybe that'll be my next post! (Gotta get to 100 posts lol jk.) I mostly find them online, just searching around on eBay and etsy. I have to go and look for the specific shops but I'll put it together sometime in the next week I think.

  2. the nail form isn't great, but your nailtech nailed (no pun intended) the floral print!! looks really really good!

    1. Maybe because these are my natural nails and she didn't shape them too much despite them being a little wonky when I went in? [She probably thought they were that way purposefully wtf]
      But lol yeah I thought the flowers were pretty spot on.

  3. You only tip 10% ? The cost of the service goes to the owner, the only way for the nail artist to make more than minimum wage is through tipping. She spent several hours on your nails, and it looks like she did an excellent and artistic job despite your lack of feedback during the service, in my opinion she deserves at least a 20% tip. The fact that you asked your reader if we think $10 is too little sounds like deep down, you already know it is. I'm not a nail tech but have worked in different areas of the arts and the service industry, and a 10% tip is interpreted as the client being unsatisfied with the end result. I do appreciate your thorough report and excellent photos in your review though, and as a result I'll probably visit this salon in the future ��

    1. Your feedback is appreciated. Looking back at this nail set over a year later and having since returned to my original and first choice salon, the work does not compare and I would consider what I received unsatisfactory on a surface level and tbh I just don't like it. I was trying to be positive at the time bc I had paid so much for it, but I wouldn't return to this salon bc I didn't like how the design was executed and I just felt uncomfortable there to begin with (and forgetting my wallet just made it that much worse).
      I was unsure about the tipping bc I've never worked in the service industry before personally and no one in my family gets their nails done so I don't have much experience in tips. I'm not at all familiar with what nail artists at these salons are paid and I didn't assume it was minimum wage. I usually see the salon owner at my usual salon and never felt that $10 was too little considering what I pay to her as it is for exactly what I'm getting but if I'm particularly happy, I always tip more.