SHEX Reviews: Helen Nail Spa

SHEX Reviews: Helen Nail Spa

By Sonia Su

Open since December 28, 2013, Helen Nail Spa’s newest salon is smaller than its other two on Nan Chang Road and Julu Road, but has the same natural, comforting vibe as the other two locations. Customers looking for a relaxing escape from the everyday hustle of Shanghai can find solace through Helen’s variety of services, from the classic French manicure (130 RMB) to the more special SPA gold therapy treatment (1180 RMB). Cloth couches fill the first floor, while leather couches and massage rooms occupy the second. The décor—complete with wooden floors, tables and trays—is dimly lit, adding to the calm, nature-themed atmosphere.

One of Helen’s longest-working employees, Monica Yuan, tells me the three most popular services include the manicure (98 RMB to 498 RMB), the hand spa treatment (160 RMB to 278 RMB) and the Brazilian wax treatment (220 RMB). Monica specializes in waxing.

With an average of 20 employees at each of the locations, Helen is busiest during weekends, more often catering to foreigners. As a result, each employee knows at least a minimal amount of English. Despite her modesty in her English fluency, Monica tells me she loves her job because it makes her happy.

‘I like talking to people and when I’m done, I always think how beautiful the nails are,’ Monica said.

Curious about what it comprised, I agreed to a hand spa treatment. Another employee, Jesse Zhang, did the honors, beginning with a quick buffering and moisturizing of my nails, as I sat back on one of the many comfortable taupe couches and enjoyed green tea. Customers are given the option of teas and/or hot or cold water upon arriving.

Then, Jesse placed several towels on my lap before placing down a large bowl of hot, cloudy water for my hands on top. After waiting for my hands to soften further, she took one hand out and began several layers of moisturizing and massaging—first with a nice exfoliating bead scrub, then with a shea butter lotion and finally with a cool cream.

Meanwhile, Monica told me that my hands and forearms will feel as soft as a baby’s after this treatment. And with all the lotion being massaged quite forcefully into my hands and arms, I could believe it. In fact, many customers choose the reasonably priced hand spa treatment during the summertime when they wear more short-sleeved shirts, Monica said. But with what happened next, I think hand spas are also perfectly suitable during colder months.