Up until this evening, I had made it to 23 without ever having had a professional manicure. There were the many I had tried to give myself, using the various ‘nail kit’ sets that I found myself with each Christmas. But I never really found much fun in pushing back my cuticles with a cheap wooden skewer or going through the painstaking effort of sticking on little french manicure guidelines that manage to rip off most of the polish in time for the final reveal.
As for colour- I’ve always painted my nails throughout the years, and they haven’t been perfect. But who cares? I certainly wasn’t going to pay somebody to paint them for me when I can do it while watching the telly. Sure, I end up using half a bottle of remover to get the stuff off of my hands and clothes this way, but it gets the job done.
That was my thinking until recently when the ever-growing buzz about Tropical Popical on South William Street crept into my state of consciousness. It was the place with the neon Palm Tree sign I’d seen in passing a few times, whose pretty nail art creations kept popping up on Instagram and of course, the salon Saoirse Ronan recently name dropped on Ellen.
Because I like Saoirse while simultaneously resenting a little the fact that she’s younger and has achieved more than I ever will- I decided I too wanted to feel like I was in Ibiza while getting my nails done.
And feel like I was in Ibiza I did. The nail bar lived up to everything I had heard: there are decorative flamingos, pineapples and parrots pretty much everywhere. You get served Lilt in a coconut cup from reception. Rihanna was playing on the stereo. Everything is neon and the staff are absolutely lovely.
For my treatment I went for a Midi Mani (€25), this gets you your nails filed and soaked, your cuticles tidied, polish applied and your hands scrubbed with a heavenly purple pomegranate sugar-y thing. You also get your hands massaged which at first I wasn’t sure I saw the point of, but actually it’s worth it if like mine they’re chronically dry from constant contact with the nearest radiator.
You can pick from a wide range of colours for your polish, with there being plenty of sparkly, metallic and neon hues on offer. I went with a blue Barry M shade which my nail artist agreed was “very mermaid-y”. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit down and talk with someone about the colour palette of mermaids.
When you’re all done, you get to chill on a zebra print sofa and listen to more pop for 15 minutes while your nails dry. Then when it’s time to go up and pay, you get a loyalty card which entitles you to a free pedicure when you’ve had your 10th visit. You can even, if you wish, pick up a Repeal the 8th badge- with the €1 price going to feminist performance group Speaking of Imelda.
I now definitely see the appeal of the simple luxury that is a manicure. You leave feeling a little happier and really appreciate the care that goes into keeping your hands looking their best. There is a small bit of new-found anxiety that goes with it, however. I’ve never opened doors or switched on the kettle so carefully before, terrified that a little chip will send me on an emotional rollercoaster. If that sounds like something you’re willing to put up with in order to have something in common with Saoirse Ronan, then you should totally give Tropical Popical a visit !
They of course do amazing nail art, extensions and gelish manicures if you’re looking for something more intricate, as well as the cheaper option of going for a simple tidy up and polish change (€7-€10). Appointments are made by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.