I treat myself to a mani/pedi about twice a year. Wait, let me clarify. Usually, I do my nails at home, but it’s nice to get them professionally done every once in a while. Since it was a birthday gift to myself, I decided to book an appointment at Varnish Lane.
Settled in an adorable yellow building literally right over the MD/DC border, Varnish Lane offers waterless manicures and pedicures, and other spa treatments. (such as waxing). VL only uses toxic-free polishes, essential oils, and other specialty products during appointments. Here is their page about why they do waterless.
After hearing great things when they opened, I visited for the first time in 2015. I enjoyed it but I never got a chance to return until a few weeks ago.
I loved the serene environment and layout. Everything’s so clean and spacious. The colors are light and airy, reminding me of a beach house, with a shabby chic feel. It wasn’t too busy when I arrived. By the time I took these pictures, the majority of guests were on the other side. The music station that was playing was nice too, a good combo of current pop/rock hits and covers. Trust me, an experience is always better when good music is playing.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m going somewhere new, I’m a little hesitant about being with a new technician. Will she overdo it with my cuticles? Be overbearing with suggestions? Yes, I think about that stuff. But my nail stylist for the day, Tenise, was great. She was very informative and we had a lovely conversation during my appointment. I was picked the wrong kind polish, and she kindly showed me which gel colors would work best. She followed through with my request of not taking all of my callouses away (a dancer needs those!). She even humored me after I told her how ticklish my feet are. So, thank you, Tenise!
I don’t remember which brand I picked for my fingers (a peach/orange creamsicle shade), but I selected a Cinderella blue shade called Blue Orchid from Deborah Lippman, for my weird dancer toes.
My favorite part of a manicure is getting the massage. I get extra tense in my hands and arms, so that was a treat to have someone else massage that foolishness out!
The price point was fine; $88 + tip for gel manicure regular pedicure. It would have been less if I didn’t add the gel. But that’s my go-to these days when I get my nails done professionally. Remember, it was a special occasion, so I didn’t mind paying more.
Here’s a very short video of the space and the final product. I’m going to do better with getting more footage, I promise!
I know self-care isn’t limited to getting pampered or retail therapy, but I will say being in a comfy chair for about an hour, doing nothing but reading a book, is very nice. I chose not to check my work email. I left my phone to the side to charge it, didn’t respond to texts. I made myself unavailable for a little bit. That’s okay.
VL’s instagram game is awesome! Their hashtag is #getvarnished.
Due to the distance and time, I’m not able to visit Varnish Lane all the time. But I still highly recommend this salon, especially with the owners’ and staff’s commitment to safe nail techniques. You can feel good about that.
If you’re in the mood to treat yourself with a manicure or pedicure, check out Varnish Lane!