By Tiffany Luning
One ridiculously cold Tuesday evening in December, I attended a nail art class at Dashing Diva’s 8th Street salon. I figured this would be a walk in the park – after all, I used to be quite the artist, and I even own several nailbrushes. I discovered that my artistic talent does not extend to nail design.
Five other women and I – including instructor Mia – sat at a table covered in nail paints, glue, beads, glitter, and a whole bevy of fake nails. Mia informed us, much to our disbelief, that we would learn to create nails with glitter tips bordered by plastic gems, and then actually paint a field of flowers on a different nail. The glitter tips proved to be fairly simple and very pretty – putting the gems on, however, was an adventure. The technique was not difficult in and of itself, but you’ll definitely need your reading glasses for this sort of up-close work. Mia then demonstrated how to paint a flower in under 30 seconds: One, two, three brush strokes for each petal, and there was a magical little bloom. You know, when she did it. I grabbed my little bottle of blue paint and in a matter of moments, I had created a blurry starfish-shaped atrocity bearing little resemblance to a flower. Hmm. Mia, always very encouraging and complimentary, pointed out to me how to change my blue starfish into a more posey-like shape by rounding out the edges of the petals. My classmates and I tried again to improve on our shaky first attempts. This time, I was able to create something that actually resembled a flower. We then learned how to add extras to the flowers to make them appear more realistic, like inner petals and leaves. After a couple more tries, I found that I actually could paint bunches of wee flowers and it looked pretty good – or recognizable as flowers, at the very least. Who knew? The Nail Art Class will cost you $20, and afterwards, you have the option of purchasing a nail art set for $20 which includes several bottles of nail paint, glitter and beads. There is the beginning class on Tuesday, where you learn to make those crazy flowers, and then the more advanced class on Wednesday, where you create butterflies and martini glasses. Each class is about an hour long and begins at 6:00PM, with a limit of 7 people per class, ensuring individual attention. It’s definitely a neat idea and quite fun – just bring your sense of humor, because you will definitely be laughing at yourself.
The following day, I returned to the 8th Street location for a Spoiled Diva manicure ($22), of which my dry and beat-up hands were in desperate need. For me, manicures are not one of life’s necessities, but something I do to treat myself on rare occasions. I really dislike the assembly-line feel of many other salons in Manhattan, where you are brusquely shuttled around the place, and your enjoyment of the experience is not really a concern. Luckily, at Dashing Diva, this is not at all the case. I sat down with my nail artist Monica, who explained each step to me – what she was using, what oils and vitamins involved, what it would do for my skin, and so forth. She examined my nails and informed me that they were definitely on the dry side, mainly thanks to the recent sub-zero temperatures, and went to work on my cuticles with nourishing oils. I then received micro-dermabrasion on my hands and forearms, followed by a vitamin-infused brown sugar scrub, and then a massage with lightly scented lotion. My dry skin was remade into a softer, silkier version than has ever existed. I couldn’t stop petting my arm like a lunatic all night! Post-exfoliation/massage, Monica started on the actual polishing of my nails. I chose “Black Jack-e”, which is just a plain opaque black, from a veritable mountain of colors. Black is a pretty easy shade to screw up, but Monica did a perfect job. The prices at Dashing Diva seem to be a bit higher than many other salons, but the pampering you receive makes it worth every penny. I left there not only happy with the treatment I had received, but the desire to return for an All-Out Diva Mani/Pedi Combo ($83).
Dashing Diva features some fun party alternatives other than the Nail Art Class: bachelorette parties, birthday parties (a great idea for younger girls), and “Girl’s Night Out” on Thursday or Friday (complete with free drinks with any service, 5:00PM-9:00PM). You can visit the salon online at [url=http://www.dashingdiva.com]http://www.dashingdiva.com[/url] – go shopping, scout out store locations, and more. I suggest stopping by a salon and picking up a brochure to peruse all their services and prices.