Thousands of years ago, long manicured fingernails were an indicator of status: very long nails were worn only by the wealthy, who paid someone else to do the chores that play havoc with hands. Today, well-manicured long nails are still seen as a symbol of power and wealth – but, thankfully, shorter nails are currently the trend: imagine Tweeting with two-inch talons! Regardless of length, it’s the state of your nails (and hands) that creates that first impression.
Even problem nails can be turned into things of beauty with today’s sophisticated products and treatments – without spending a fortune. “After their first treatment, when clients come back to the salon, I’ve often heard them say ‘I had so much good reaction to my nails!’,” says Olivier Van Neste, who, with his Venezuelan partner Ninfa Pitters Diaz, has owned Ninfa Nails in Palma for the past seven years. “Our hands are on show – they’re very important.”
Ninfa Nails specialises in gel nails (using their own-branded product ‘UV Gel Deluxe’), for a long-lasting, well-groomed look. These involve the application of a jelly-like substance, which is then cured under a UV lamp; the client leaves the salon with completely dry nails. It’s a professional-use-only product (also to be removed in-salon), recommended for people with easily breakable brittle, slow-growing or damaged nails – or naughty nibblers. The finished effect is long-lasting and highly glossy – but does it damage the nails? “The product – no,” Olivier says emphatically. “Damage can only be done by the person doing the nails – which is why it’s important to go to a salon with properly trained professional technicians.” Olivier and Ninfa trained in Belgium rather than Spain, because nailcare was then much more advanced than in Spain and they wanted “a good nail education”.
How do gel nails differ from acrylics? “When you work with acrylics, you have to mix liquid and powder together to create the product. That process is open to user error and I think it’s more difficult to work with. For the customer, if it’s well done there shouldn’t really be any difference, but a good technician could tell one product from another because of the shine or colour.”
“It’s all about the technician,” says Lisa Farrugia, who works at hair and beauty specialists, Salon B in Portals, which has recently moved into larger premises above the original salon, and now has a separate area for hand and foot treatments. Lisa trained with the company Creative Nail Design, to educator standard, and now trains others to work with CND products. “Acrylic is a really fantastic tool in the trade, but the consistency has to be perfect.” Acrylic has had some bad press in the past, which explains CND re-branding it ‘Liquid and Powder’.
Salon B also offers CND’s Shellac, another product for professional use only, set under a UV lamp and removed in-salon by soaking in acetone, rather than filing. “It’s a hybrid between gel and polish that suits any nails and people who don’t want a longer-lasting finish, or nail extensions,” says Lisa, who uses Shellac on some 85 per cent of Salon B’s clients. Which does she prefer? “Each does its own job but having used acrylics for 20 years, I’ll always be a lover of L&P”.
Ninfa Nails is unique in having an own-brand product range, which includes ‘UV Gel Deluxe’, and ‘Poligel’, a fusion of gel and nail polish. Ninfa Nails also supplies these to other salons and provides professional training in their use. How do they market themselves alongside big players like CND and OPI? “In the beginning we did product demonstrations at trade fairs in Madrid and Barcelona, and we advertise in trade magazines. In Mallorca we have two or three local selling points and a professional web shop (website in Spanish and English) so that salons can buy online as well.”
What are the benefits to other salons? “The chance to offer a different product of very good quality, that’s not as expensive as CND or OPI . We give demonstrations on how to use it, and offer technical support at the end of the phone. We also speak English and German and it’s not so easy to find distributors here who do that.” Importantly, salons can order and receive products on the same day.
The Nail Bar, close to Bonaire in Palma, is Bulgarian-owned and uses the range of Star Nails Bulgaria products (also used in the USA) for their manicures (from 15 € – 25 €) and pedicures – offering varnish, gels and semi-permanent varnish. Owner Elitsa tells me that the salon also hosts private manicure/pedicure parties for groups of friends – and can arrange catering to make it more of an occasion. Brings a new meaning to ‘finger food’ . . .
The foot care treatment ‘du jour’ is the fish spa: tiny piscatorial exfoliators (Garra Rufa, originally from Turkey and Iran) that suck and lick dead skin cells – releasing enzymatic secretions to remove hard skin and regenerate skin cells more quickly. Several salons and spas in Mallorca offer these treatments – including the luxurious Arabella Spa at the St Regis Mardavall, where the 25-minute Express session costs 60 €, and the 45-minute Deluxe, 100 €. A professional manicure is one of the least expensive beauty treatments available – yet probably one that will make the greatest impression on those you meet.