The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

Health & Fitness
The Nail Factory

The Nail Factory: ‘Where Style is Created’ Then Slowly Falls Apart

reviewed by
Salma Anderson
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The Nail Factory: ‘Where Style is Created’ Then Slowly Falls Apart

Since its arrival on the salon scene three months ago, The Nail Factory has been the talk of the town. We’d been hearing mixed reviews of the Zamalek  locale, so we decided to check it out ourselves.

First things first, booking in advance is a must; if you manage to score a same-day appointment, or simply waltz in, you will wish you’d waited. 

While we were there, a lady came in hoping to get a manicure done on the spot, and the receptionist told her to have a seat on the black pleather loveseat while she would see if it was possible. After asking around and telling the woman that it could be managed, the receptionist then informed her – a good 40mins after saying it was possible – that it was in fact, not possible, and the woman was asked to book an appointment later in the week.  Moral of the story: call in advance.

But back to our nails. A nail tech guided us to a seat in front of a fold-out table attached to the wall, where she proceeded to file our nails. Usually one expects friendly chitchat, but that was not in the cards for us; when we asked about Molly’s background we were met with curt responses. So we tried telling her about ourselves; she wasn’t interested.

When our nails were filed so short that we could see the tips of our fingers for the first time in four years, and two cuticles were bleeding/burning from being nicked with the cuticle scissors, the nail tech placed a rotary of nail colour samples on the tabletop and asked us to choose.

We requested a lovely lavender Essie polish we’d seen earlier on the six-tier display shelves. But we were instead brought a black bottle labelled ‘Maxim House’, which was claimed to be the same shade of purple. Noticing a sample of a ‘shattered glass’ manicure, we asked if we could have that done.
After a few nails had been painted, we were asked to move to the multi-seater table where one other woman was getting acrylics done.

About 40 minutes later the salon owner, walks in accompanied by a guy with a man-bun wearing a Chicago Bulls jersey; he plops down at the pedicure station over by the back wall and a staff member proceeds to wash and exfoliate his feet before clipping his toenails. Due to the fact that the owner pecked him on the lips before he left later, we are assuming he is her boyfriend. We were then asked to move over two seats to the right, because the space we were occupying was the owner’s ‘special spot’. She also made the nail tech switch UV drying lamps with her, because we had the better one; then she realised she’d had the better one initially and made us swap again.

As the owner served one of her friends, removing a red manicure with her acrylic nail machine, a male nail technician pulled up a chair and watched with intent, eager to learn. We silently wished he was doing our nails, instead.

After an hour and a half and four coats of nail polish – which still weren’t completely dry despite going under the UV lamp numerous times – our nail tech took out a thin sheet of holographic paper and tried pressing it onto one of the nails; the owner informed her that she was supposed to cut the crinkly paper into little pieces first. This took a good 20 minutes. The ‘shards’ were arranged on the nails and then painted over with a clear top coat, before going under the UV lamp to ‘dry’.  After pulling our fingers out, we noticed that some of the pieces were sticking up or extending beyond the edge of the nail, but the nail tech insisted we wait until all ten digits were done before fixing anything.
When the second topcoat was applied, and both hands had been squeezed under the UV lamp to save time, the three-hour process was finally complete. We had been told on the phone the appointment would take 60 minutes (though, in all fairness, there had not yet been a plan to do any designs).
Seeing as the backs of our hands were scratchy from scraping against the opening of the UV drying lamp when trying to squeeze both in together, we asked if we could have a bit of lotion.

After paying the receptionist 300LE (200LE for the gel manicure and 10LE per nail designed) we were finally free to go. However, the story doesn’t end there.

The very next day, we found pieces of the reflective ‘broken glass effect’ paper peeling off.
Five days after our visit, we noticed the gel polish coming off at the nail base; so we decided to test the quality of this ‘Maxim House’ product and picked at it to find it peeled right off in satisfying little sheets.
The flakiness of our dried-out natural nails was disconcerting.

It’s safe to say we are not very impressed with The Nail Factory, aside from its trendy concrete-walled interior and black, white & ochre colour scheme.

It may be a pleasant place to snap a spa-day selfie, but is it the best place to get a quality mani-pedi in Cairo? Our verdict is ‘no’.

360 Tip

If you want to get acrylics done, book at least two days in advance.

Best Bit

The modern, Instagrammable interior.

Worst Bit

Bleeding cuticles that still stung two days later.

Map Data
Map data ©2016
Map DataMap data ©2016
Map data ©2016

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