I’ve come to the realization that some things can and cannot be found easily in Downtown. Sushi? There’s an abundance. Japanese/Korean spa service? Not so much. How about bottomless mimosas? Think again! OK, what about an affordable nail salon that is actually a nail salon, not a hair salon moonlighting as a nail salon? So far, I’ve found only three. One is cheap, but you get what you pay for. And the other I’ve yet to visit, but it looks really expensive. The third? Jackpot! Nail Service will not break the bank, guaranteed.

Nail Service in Little Tokyo is the go-to spot for all things nails and waxing for USC students. You get the plush massage chair, sterile utensils and just an all-around feel-good experience here. Located off San Pedro, steps away from the Dash bus stop, you walk in to sky blue walls and white leather chairs on either side.

The nail station, complete with this season’s Essie and OPI colors, has every spectrum of the color chart you can think of. Nail Services specializes in nail design – we’re talking Gucci colored, stencil design, bejeweled nails … big time. These are not run-of-the-mill acrylic and natural nails; Nail Service’s attention to detail is impeccable. Want Trojan colors? How about 3D nail art? Ask, and you shall receive.

The owner Emily and veteran esthetician Lana are so nice to interact with. They really go the extra mile to make sure you are happy with your services. Lana did my eyebrow and underarm wax on my visit, and I have to tell you ladies (and gentlemen!), it was a breeze. Usually anything involving wax is painful, especially under the arms, but I literally laughed at the quickness and virtually pain-free experience. Perhaps it was the ocean breeze sounds in the room that provide the relaxation or Lana’s bubbly demeanor, but it was one of the most relaxing experiences ever. Lana took the time to explain the procedure she uses, how the hair grows and why it’s best to avoid shaving, and told me about the special honey wax Nail Service uses. The wax is honey based and is formulated to leave your skin moisturized. That’s probably why I wasn’t in as much pain, and my skin actually felt soft afterwards.

For those of you new to the gel experience, this is an overlay of color on your natural nails that lasts up to two to three weeks without so much as a chip or a nick. The only concern is when you have to remove the product, because it requires you to soak in acetone, which is not pleasant. But Nail Service’s gel products are gentle on your nails, and they are used to protect the health of your nails. They use organic and high end products including Brisa Gel System, a hypoallergenic nail cover that really looks natural on your fingertips.  

In addition to fabulous nails and waxing, Nail Service also does facials. I noticed plenty of Dermalogica products at the front desk; I’ll have to come back to experience one, as Dermalogica is one of the best skin products on the market, with prices under $40.

Nail Service caters to men as well. So, guys, don’t be afraid to go … I promise no one will give any disapproving or assuming looks.

Afterwards, be sure to walk across the street and grab a mochi or some delicious ramen so you can make a whole day of visiting Little Tokyo.

For more information, visit nailserviceusa.com