Polish, pummeled and smothered in smelly stuff, Penny Bartlett and Emily Downey suffer in the name of beauty — and get the low down on the best salons in the city


If heaven were a nail salon, it would be Dashing Diva. Near to Las Chicas in Omotesando, this is the perfect drop in spot pre- or post lunch. Dashing Diva started in New York, and its Tokyo branch combines the best of the Japanese ultra-speedy and polite service with the funk and style of NYC. I am now a proud convert to its trademarked Virtual Nail technique. Never a fan of the time and expense of acrylics, I found the Virtual Nails to be the best possible alternative. In less than an hour, I had the most perfectly fitted and colored talons of my life — all for an incredible ¥3,000. What’s more, after three weeks washing dishes and endless typing on a computer, they still look as new as the day I got them.

The store itself is a work of art — all glass and light, offset by a brilliant magenta feature wall. Dashing Diva offers a party room, VIP area (with first class airline style recliners) as well as a range of English magazines — and you can watch Sex and the City on a portable DVD player while your nails dry. On Thursdays and Friday evenings you can enjoy a free Cosmopolitan cocktail as part of the Girls Night promotion.

Mai Onuki, the salon manager, speaks impeccable English and will always ensure you have English-speaking staff.

Men are often seen getting treatments, so it may be a good chance to drag along your other-half. Basic manicures start at ¥2,500.

3-12-13, Kita Aoyama, Minato ku, Tokyo. Tel. 03-5774-0266


Boudoir by name, boudoir by nature. Dark, opulent, velvety — it feels more like a den of decadence than a beauty salon. On the backstreets of Harajuku (a short walk from the bottom end of Takashita dori; there is also a coin operated car park nearby), this is one of the few places in town where you can get the famed “Brazilian” (see the www.being-a-broad.com discussion board for those who have tried and tested  it). You can walk into Boudoir an unkempt broad and walk out one slick chick — Boudoir offers waxing, manicures, pedicures, facials, massages and spray on tanning. I had a facial topped off with a neatening eyebrow wax. Boudoir’s facial has a very welcome emphasis on face and upper body massage. The Mayerling skin renewal range involves massage and steaming, finished with a brief hydrating cooling mask and light moisturizer. The effects were immediately evident — it took at least five years off my skin.

Boudoir is full of nice little touches including a welcome drink (I would recommend wine if you are getting waxed), a mini fresh fruit platter, and, if you are lucky, a set of samples to take home with you. English is the salon’s primary language as Boudoirs owner, Marilyn, is Australian. Right now, Boudoir has a great winter special of an aromatic facial, manicure and eyebrow wax all for only ¥15,750.

Maison Kawai 101, 2-25-3 Jingumae, Shibuya Ku, Tokyo. Tel.03-478-5898.


The Shou salon (pronounced ‘show’) is in the maze of Harajuku backstreets which lead from Omotesando dori. The salon is on the top floor of a building that otherwise resembles a residential building, so a map or detailed directions are highly recommended. The Salon offers a wide range of tantalizing treatments guaranteed to make you relax and leave the noise and crowds outside behind. Services include a range of rejuvenating facials, body exfoliation, and massages using “a mixture of therapeutic Swedish, relaxation and lymphatic draining techniques.” Manicures, pedicures, tinting and waxing are all also available. Their current specialty is a facial using Thalgo products imported from France. The Thalgo “Marine” is a rehydrating facial treatment (¥12,600), while the Thalgo “Cool” is an oxidizing mask (¥13,650). I opted for the “smooth” pedicure, a whirlpool pedicure which includes filing and shaping, cuticle care, dead skin removal and nail color. I especially liked the “Kyoujiyo bijin shiou,” an exfoliating product from Kyoto, which left my skin looking smooth and polished. My feet were pumiced, moisturized, pampered and left feeling and looking like new. Nails were shaped to perfection and nourished with a protein base coat before finishing with color — you can chose from 150. The “Smooth” pedicure is ¥10,500.

Arrow Plaza Harajuku #312, 4-19-8 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Tel. 03-3470-7109.