Our body’s can serve as canvas for art, and our nails are no exception. But finding the right nail technician to bring your artistic vision to life can sometimes feel like a daunting task.

Luckily, the Front Range is teeming with talented nail artists creating eye-catching designs just like the ones filling your Instagram feed. So whether you like your diamond-clad claws long or are seeking someone who can still deck out your “shorties” (nail speak for short nails, and there’s no shame), look no further than these gurus.

Ashleigh Owens

After her dreamy, custom press-on sets took off on Instagram in 2019 (these later came to the rescue of countless Colorado nail addicts when the pandemic forced salons to shutter), Owens’ sharp eye for detail has since helped her carve out a space as a go-to for intricate, life-like designs—some of which can take her up to nine hours to create. She’s keen on painting playful, pop culture references, but can also hook it up with simpler, otherwise underrated techniques like stamping, as well as “peek-a-boo” pattern play underneath longer Gel-X nails (a soft gel extension) for an unexpected pop.

Offers: Gel manicures (starting at $40), Gel-X sets (starting at $70), Press-on nails (prices vary; on request basis)
Book an appointment: New clients can message Owens on Instagram to request to be added to her waitlist for an appointment. 9745 E. Hampden Ave.; Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

The Beauty Collective

Essentially the matriarch of the Mile High City’s modern-day nail scene, Beauty Collective founder and owner Rachael Waggoner has been teaching and mentoring nail pros around the state for more than a decade. So you can trust that each of the eight techs at her Lakewood headquarters—a purple, galaxy-patterned cottage, of course—have learned from the best. If you’re into classic, sculpted acrylic nails (the longer the better!) and are lucky enough to snag a spot on Waggoner’s books, she’s known for three-dimensional sets, often with gemstones and other flashy hardware, that you won’t find anywhere else. If that’s not your thing, each staffer specializes in their own materials and styles of art, so bouncing between any of the Collective’s different technicians to achieve your dream design isn’t shunned—in fact, Waggoner encourages it.

Offers: Gel manicures, Gel-X sets, and sculpted acrylic sets (prices vary per technician. Find more info on individual pricing online)
Book an appointment: Browse the schedules and offerings of each of the Beauty Collective’s eight staffers at beautycollectivestudio.com. 1350 Carr St., Lakewood; hours vary, see individual technicians for available dates and times



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Fresh To Death (@acronychous)

The distinct witchy and whimsical style produced by Rachael Bowen and her team make this RiNo salon one of the most coveted spots in the city to get your claws done. Bowen and her team of four techs take an all-natural approach, meaning you won’t find acrylic or monomer liquids here. Rather, they craft with soft gel extensions or hard gel overlay that are more gentle on your nails. So, whether you’re getting a sleek set of shorties or coming for those recognizable, rounded stiletto nails, your natural talons can grow longer and stronger over time. Salon newbie Britt also offers a mean gel pedicure with equally as thoughtful art—because your toes deserve to look fresh, too. Keep an eye out for when the team goes mobile in spring 2022 with their vintage trailer turned full-service nail shop.

Offers: Gel polish manicure (starting at $65), Gel-X set (starting at $80), pedicures (starting at $75)
Book an appointment: Visit acronychous.com for info on how to book individual services and technicians. 2830 Larimer St.; Monday’s 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Tuesday–Friday noon–7 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m–6 p.m., Sunday noon–5 p.m.

Mainstream Nails

This Whittier outpost is your one-stop shop, with everything from dip manicures to full-service pedicures. Unsure which of the 13 talented nail techs to tap for your hand-painted masterpiece? Just text the salon’s office phone ahead of time at (303-386-3037) with the nail design you had in mind, and they’ll help pair you with the best-suited tech from there. All you have to worry about is sitting back, sipping a peach mimosa ($5) from the in-house wine bar, and relishing the shop talk while you’re treated to a classic sculpted gel set from resident expert Chuemee or camp-y, Swarovski crystal-covered acrylics from owner Melly Nguyen. 

Offers: Gel manicure (starting at $40),  gel polish pedicure (starting at $50), Gel-X set (starting at $60), sculpted acrylic set (starting at $70), sculpted gel set ($80)
Book an appointment: Call 303-386-3037 or visit mainstreamnails.com for more info and to book individual services. 1705 E. 31st Ave.; Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–7 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

Madi Skahill
Madi Skahill
Madi assists with digital strategy as well as writes and edits stories for 5280.com. She also oversees social media strategy for 5280’s and 5280 Home’s accounts.