beauty / nail polish

Varnish Lane

I live for fresh lacquer, but I’m not without my hang-ups. Like all women, I recall the Glamour mag horror stories about the things that lurk in swirling foot baths. Terrified, I went years without a salon pedicure and, even so, could never quite figure the allure of those ubiquitous pedicure massage chairs. Nevertheless, the salon experience was not without its lingering worries, with disappointments and questionable cost per value. There were many places that were beautiful, mostly full-service salons, but often their nail services seemed an afterthought or involved the time suck of the terry cloth robe. Others felt rushed and stripped down. Remarkably, in a city that’s notoriously time-crunched – and no stranger to decadence – it seemed impossible to find the balance in Washington. There was always a sacrifice, either for time or pleasure or safety, and often enough to dull even the shiniest of top coats.

That is, until now. Meet Varnish Lane:


Photo Credit: Kate Headley for Varnish Lane

Opened in February 2015, Varnish Lane occupies that special place in the market, where convenience and luxury are not mutually exclusive. The salon is everything that Washingtonians were missing: a place with high-end feel but laid-back cool, an obsession with hygiene and the option for speed that doesn’t sacrifice special. And the real kicker? Their services are waterless. Nary a whirlpool pedicure chair in sight.


Photo Credit: Kate Headley for Varnish Lane


Photo Credit: Kate Headley for Varnish Lane

My first visit was with Mr. G, for a full-on afternoon of organic sugar scrubs and paraffin wax treatments to prep for Spring (and a hot new pair of Valentinos). Everything about the experience was perfection and Mr. G agreed, feeling equally at ease. Afterward, I couldn’t help but gush to owner Carrie Dunn that this was the salon I’d always wished for. Her response absolutely clinched it: “Me too, and so we made it”.

I’ve already been back, for a quick polish change post-spin class that I’ll report felt just as luxurious but took 20 minutes start to finish. I urge you give them a try and tell me you aren’t convinced that this is how it always should be. If the lashings of unlacquered brass and warm leather armchairs don’t convince you from jump, your nails definitely will.

Varnish Lane, 5236 44th St. NW, Washington, DC 20015. Book an appointment online or contact them directly at (202)506-5308.


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