Sandal season is finally here, and our toes sure appreciate all the freedom they’re getting. But before baring it all, take the time to stop by one of Istanbul’s top nail bars, Dalia Mortada recommends, to get your feet prim and pampered for their big debut

California Nail Bar

The traditional nail bar as it is known in the United States or other parts of the West is not as common in Istanbul. That’s why when American owner Joanne Yıldırım opened the first of its kind in 2006, California Nail Bar was a huge hit. Its popularity is still evident as one of the most recommended nail salons in town among foreigners and locals alike, who visit the specialty nail care establishment in Istanbul’s top shopping district of Nişantaşı.

Fully equipped with high-end massage chairs, California Nail Bar offers visitors everything they’re looking for, whether it’s a quick mani-pedi during lunch break or a luxurious stone therapy to go with their pedicures.

Before California Nail Bar, the only place women could find professional nail care was in hair salons, often while getting their hair styled. While this method is still popular amongst Istanbulites, many did not find getting their nails done a satisfying experience. Instead of requiring the customer to twist and turn to accommodate the person doing her nails while she is getting her hair done, ‘We taught our [nail technicians] to move around and accommodate the customers’ needs, not the other way around,’ Yıldırım says. ‘We looked at all the details of what people did and did not like about getting their nails done, and we catered to their needs.’

Among California Nail Bar’s most popular services, the basic manicure-pedicure is at the top, but so is body waxing and eyebrow threading. They even offer a little something for the men, like the ‘MAN-icure’ and ‘Dude pedicure’ as well as waxing services. Valikonağı Caddesi 103, Nişantaşı (0212) 240 62 45/ Daily 10.00-20.00.

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Q Nail Bar

Located on the bustling main avenue in Bebek, Istanbul’s treasured neighbourhood along the Bosphorus coast, Q Nail Bar offers its customers a peaceful, relaxing nail experience. It opened in May 2010 to the very warm welcome of people looking for just this kind of service.

Owner Dilek Ayub opened the salon out of personal need. ‘I lived abroad for ten years and I was used to getting my nails done this way,’ Ayub says. ‘I saw there was a gap in the market for such a service.’ She, like many others who have gotten their nails done the Turkish way – while under a hair dryer at a beauty salon – found the experience stressful.

Armed with the belief that getting a manicure or pedicure should be a pampering experience, she sought to provide that kind of service with Q Nail Bar. ‘It is even more hygienic,’ she adds.

The most popular services offered at Q Nail Bar’s are the basic manicure-pedicures, followed by a special spa treatment for calloused hands and feet in the winter and waxing services in the summer. Küçükbebek Caddesi 12/C, Bebek (0212) 263 80 86/ (Turkish-language website). Monday-Saturday 09.00-20.00; Sunday 11.00-20.00.

Misk Nail Spa

Just across the Bosphorus, a mani-pedi seeker can find Misk Nail Spa in the popular Asian-side neighbourhood of Kadıköy. This boutique nail salon offers a unique take on the budding specialty market with a variety of natural and organic nail care services along with more traditional options. Owner Ceren Ergün opened the spa in 2010 because she said she could not find somewhere else like this nearby. ‘There is no boutique nail spa or a place that pays attention to hygiene,’ she says.

As the trend of specialty nail salons gains speed in Istanbul, Ergün made sure to bring something new to the table. First, Misk Nail Spa changes its service menu twice a year according to the season. In the autumn and winter, for example, the spa offers more rejuvenating services like chocolate or coffee scrubs. In the spring and summer, when it is time to whip those toes out, Misk has more refreshing eucalyptus, mint or lavender treatments. The thing these have in common, Ergün says, is that they are all natural treatments.

Misk Nail Spa also offers a separate line of organic products and services as well as nail varnishes from Essie, Rareblossom and OPI. Bağdat Caddesi, Turgay Apt, A Blok, No: 348, second floor, Daire 3 (across from Erenköy Polo Garage), Kadıköy (0216) 385 64 75/ (Turkish-language website). Monday-Saturday 09.00-19.30; Sunday 11.00-19.00.

The Nail Job

Also opened in 2010, The Nail Job now has two branches: one on the Asian side, on Bağdat Caddesi, and the other on the European side, in Nişantaşı. This specialty nail salon offers a wide array of nail and personal beauty services, from the basic manicure-pedicure to laser hair removal and cellulite therapies.

The owner, Selçuk Şireci, opened The Nail Job with the vision that it would fill a gap in the market for comprehensive beauty care services outside of a hair salon. The salon emphasises hygiene, ensuring top-quality sterilisation of nail care tools after each use. Şireci also brought a line of state-of-the-art products for the various services offered, including Alessandro beauty merchandise, Lipostar cellulite therapy and an Ozone sauna. Although the company is called The Nail Job, Şireci says the most popular service is the Lipostar treatment.

Nişantaşı branch: Valikonağı Caddesi, Konak Apt 67, first floor, Nişantaşı (across from Topshop) (0212) 234 06 10; Bağdat Caddesi branch: Bağdat Caddesi, Kınayman Apt. 343/3, Erenköy (across from Midpoint, next to Kitchenette and Kırıntı) (0216) 411 29 77/ (Turkish-language website). Monday-Saturday 10.00-20.00.
Read the original at TimeOut Istanbul.