Our bodies can serve as a 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, lifelike designs—some of which can take her up to nine hours to create. She’s keen on painting playful, pop culture references (you have to see her Courage the Cowardly Dog set), but can also hook it up with simpler, otherwise underrated techniques like stamping, as well as “peek-a-boo” pattern play underneath long Gel-X nails (a soft gel extension) for an unexpected pop.

Offers: Gel manicures, Gel-X sets, Press-on nails (prices vary; on request basis)
Book an appointment: New clients can keep an eye on Ashleigh’s Instagram where she posts appointment openings on her story. 9745 E. Hampden Ave., hours vary

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 nine other 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 staffers at beautycollectivestudio.com. 1350 Carr St., Lakewood; hours vary, see individual technicians for available dates and times



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Rachael Bowen and her team’s distinct witchy and whimsical style makes this RiNo salon one of the most coveted spots in the city to get your claws done. The talented 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 gentler 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. But getting your nails done by Denver’s most wanted also means clawing for an appointment, so keep Instagram story notifications turned on to get a chance at snagging a spot.

Offers: Gel polish manicure, Gel-X set, hard gel (prices vary by design)
Book an appointment: Visit acronychous.com for info on how to book individual services and technicians, and keep an eye on the Acronychous Instagram page for last-minute openings. 1704 E. 25th Ave.; hours vary

Mainstream Nails

This Whittier outpost is your one-stop shop, with everything from dip manicures to full-service pedicures. Unsure which of the 12 talented nail techs to tap for your hand-painted masterpiece? Just text the salon’s office phone ahead of time (303-386-3037) with the nail design you have 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 ($7) 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 $45), gel pedicure (starting at $60), Gel-X set (starting at $75), sculpted gel set ($95)
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.

Pink and White Nails

Photo courtesy of Pink and White Nails

Don’t be deceived by the name, this Highland salon specializes in more than just your standard pink-and-white set. Owner Danni Pham and her team of talented techs are skilled at bringing your intricate inspo pics to life—or giving you a quick, classic look if you don’t have time for all the flair. Pink and White’s artists particularly pop off when it comes to holiday manis, so if you’re looking for Halloween claws dripping blood or crawling with spiders, you’ll want to book ASAP. Luckily appointments are almost always available, so you won’t have to stress about snagging a spot in the books. Opt for a full set of dipped powder nails with tips if your natural nails don’t leave a lot of room for the tech’s dreamy designs.

Offers: Dip powder set (starting at $45), Gel-X set (starting at $65), pedicure (starting at $33), acrylic set (starting at $40)

Book an appointment: Call 303-964-9999 or visit pinkwhitenails.com for more info and to book individual services. 2701 W. 32nd Ave.; Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.–7 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Barbara O'Neil
Barbara O'Neil
Barbara is one of 5280's assistant editors and writes stories for 5280 and 5280.com.
Madi Skahill
Madi Skahill
Madi Skahill is 5280’s former associate digital editor.