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Health and Beauty


Looking for a soak-off gel lacquer manicure? Check out Toronto’s top four manicure meccas

A client receives arty pink tips at Tips Nail Bar (Image: Paige Dzenis)

We all know the post-manicure mantra: “Don’t rummage through your purse, and forget whatever’s in your pockets.” Even if we make it home smudge-free, the best polish job is bound to chip within days. We’ve noticed that soak-off, UV-cured gel lacquer is quickly becoming the norm at some salons across the city — thin layers of colour are applied to the natural nail, exactly like polish, except that each coat is cured under a UV lamp, making it instantly dry to the touch.

Tips Nail Bar, WowWow Nails, The Ten Spot and Ritual are among some of the best practitioners in the city, and with two leading nail polish companies producing their own soak-off gel systems (OPI has Axxium and CND makes Shellac), we can pick a Pantone and replicate it on our nails (and a gel lacquer manicure stays shiny and chip-free for longer than two weeks). Unsurprisingly, a nail technician at Ritual said nail polish is “so 2010,” which means we can keep our hands in our pockets until there is an unnecessary 2010 revival.

Click on to see our rundown of the best manicure specialists in the city »

  • Sarah

    I’ve had several CND Shellac manicures (from Ritual) and one OPI Axxium manicure (from The Ten Spot Leslieville). I wouldn’t recommend the Axxium at all. The manicure started lifting after less than a week and the removal process was horrifying: the manicurist took a very abrasive file and used it to buff a stripe down each of my nails before beginning the soaking process, followed by a lot more buffing after. My nails wound up scratched and are still weak (three months later) as a result. In contrast, the CND Shellac manicures lasted for 3-4 weeks and came off pretty easily after being soaked. I’ve been hearing great things about Tips and hope to check it out soon.

  • Tips Nail Bar

    An abrasive file is not necessary for Axxium. Sarah, we would love you to come give us a try. We offer Axxium, Shellac and Entity services. Hope to see you soon!


  • Emma

    I too had the Axxium from the ten spot and was disappointed! It chipped off in less than 5 days and the colour started to look dirty not long after.

    Dont get me wrong, I LOVE the girls at the ten spot!!!

    I just don’t love a 50 dollar mani that chips after 4 days.

  • lifebeginsatthirtyright

    I have had three axxium manicures from the Ten Spot and while I love the salon, I wouldn’t recommend the manicure (except for maybe once in a blue moon for a special occasion).

    The manicure really damaged my nails (totally scratched up and super weak). I had to wait until all parts of the damaged nail grew out until I could even think of them looking decent or wearing normal polish (it would chip off almost instantly because of the damage).

    I did love the salon and would go back for a regular manicure or other services though.

  • Lisa R

    I hate to say it but Axxium at the Ten Spot is a total waste. It chipped after 48 hours and they almost charged me to repair it. I was hesitant to try it again but went to Tips Nail Bar and am obsessed – there isn’t anything Rita and Leanne can’t do! I leave happy every time without fail.

  • Lisa Kozoriz

    We are so sorry to hear about your Axxium experience at The Ten Spot!

    We always invite our guests to give us feedback directly – and if ever you aren’t happy, we want to make it up to you!

    Please email us at
    Talk to you soon!

  • Alex

    i’ve had numerous Axxium jobs at Tips Nail Bar & I can say with confidence that they are the best! Rita, Melissa & Leeanne really understand nails and application techniques – I’ve gone on vacation twice with Axxium and they’ve lasted well over 3 weeks even in contact with sand and tanning oil/lotion – things that typically caused my nails to chip in the past. Call them ASAP!

  • SF

    I also had a TERRIBLE experience with Axxium at The 10 SPOT. The manicure lasted two weeks, which was great, but the removal process was horrible. The technician used an abrasive file to lift and scrape the nail polish off my nails. My nails were so damaged, had white streaks and ridges on them, and broke continuously for 3 months after that. I contacted 10 Spot to let them know what was going on and they told me that “technicians are very well trained, and that sometimes “an individual might have a negative reaction to the removal process” and then they suggested that I come by and purchase a nail strengthener from them! I was so offended that they had ruined my nails, offered no help, but on top of that, suggested that I should purchase something additional from them, to FIX THEIR ERROR. From these comments, it’s clear that I am not the only one who has had this problem- I am sorry to hear that others have had this experience, but I do feel vindicated that it’s not just “a bad reaction” that is somehow unique to me. I used to go to 10 spot all the time, after this, I will never go back.

  • Ingrid

    Woah, the 10 Spot better do some damage control.

  • Sarah H

    Wow, what a lot of comments! I kinda feel bad for 10Spot with everyone uploading negative comments.

    I really like Ritual and Erin is great. Will definitely try Tips Nail Bar.

    Has anyone tried Noir Nail Bar in Liberty Village?

  • LC

    I’ve been getting these manicures every other week for about 6 months from tips nail bar and haven’t had a problem once. My nails always look great and are even staying strong. A lot of my friends have problems when they go to other salons and I believe it is because technique is a factor in the manicure lasting. Have to make sure you go to a good place, I highly suggest tips

  • Amanda Jones

    I’ve had a few Axxium Mani’s at The 10 Spot and I really loved them! They lasted for ever – never chipped! Sadly, it was my nails growing out that had me get them removed (which they did for free). Didn’t have an issue with my nails afterwards either…. I didn’t want any polish after the last time so I didn’t book in for a manicure, just got them taken off and my nails were perfectly fine!

  • S.N.

    I went to Tips once and was super not impressed. Not sure what the hype is all about because it’s a hole in the wall of a place and I didn’t like my service AT ALL! Will not be returning.

  • Kristen Gale

    Hi everyone!

    Kristen here, the owner of THE TEN SPOT.

    Just reading these reviews and I am extremely disappointed to here anyone’s been unsatisfied with our Axxium service!

    These comments come as a shock as it is inconsistent with the reviews from our clients and perhaps maybe some of these comments are FAKED from our competitors.

    In any case, THE TEN SPOT is totally committed to being the best beauty bar in Toronto and giving our guests the best possible services in the city!

    I strongly encourage anyone to contact me directly at

    We are also inviting guests to join our focus groups where we get to learn how to improve our services and where you get free services! send an email to to participate.

    So please, please get in touch!!!

    xoxo, Kristen

  • Breanne

    Here is my two cents – I’ve been to the Ten Spot a few times, for other services and Axxium. I’ve always been happy and I didn’t have a problem with my nails after taking it off! Ten Spot rocks in my books!

  • Kristen Gale

    Thanks Breanna! You just rocked my socks!!!

    Send me an email and I’ll let you know when we will be conducting our next focus group.

    After all these dismal comments we are doing everything we can to make sure we are doing the best job! We’ve never had any internal feedback on our removal process (and we record each and every bit of feedback we get and review it in our monthly management meetings), so it’s all come as a bit of a shock to us!

    We’ve been doing the service for about 7 months now and it has fast become one of our most popular services AND with loads of repeat clients, so it’s caught us all a little off guard!

    However, in lieu of this we’ve contacted OPI (which makes Axxium) to review once again their process, we’re revamping our protocol and of course, we are getting in a slue of guests to come in and have the service complimentary and then to give us feedback on the Axxium manicure every couple of days for feedback. We will be doing this with every esthtician as well to ensure things are tip top across the board! So like I said Breanne, shoot me an email and I’ll get you signed up for your complimentary service!

  • NI

    My girlfriend and I tried the Axxium at the 10 Spot last month and we both loved it! It was a trial for my girlfriends upcoming wedding and we were so happy that it lasted over 2 weeks! We will be back in June for another set!! We didn’t experience any problems with the removal- just don’t pick them off yourself! Our nails look and feel great! I’ve already recommend the 10 spot to so many other girlfriends!!

  • Leah

    I’ve had 2 axxium manicures done at the 10 spot. both times the removal process went very well. My nails were just as strong as when I put the axxium on. I will continue to go to the 10 spot for my axxium as I go there for all my waxing as well. Can’t wait to have them done for my vacation- no chipped polish on a vacation is going to be amazing im sure!

  • Jill

    I’ve had the Axxium twice at 10 Spot and loved it. The second one was a french which was gorgeous – I had a lot of compliments! I’ve never had a challenges with the removal and they even applied a coat of nail strengthener for me afterwards. Both Axxiums lasted weeks without chipping. I only removed when my regrowth began to show. I love the girls at the 10 Spot and have recommended them many times!

  • Lisa R

    This definitely isn’t a fake post and I generally dislike leaving negative reviews for businesses; most everyone is doing their best to do a good job and provide a great service for their clients. With my Axxium at 10 Spot, after I complained, someone responded noting that I’d be followed up with and never was. Have been there for a basic manicure and it’s fine, there are just other spots that nail bars that do it better!

  • Lesa

    Hi Kristen

    This is just my two cents, but I know Leeanne and the girls at Tips personally and can safely say they would *never* FAKE negative comments about services somewhere else. They would never wish ill will to anyone else’s business, competitive or otherwise.

  • Jessica

    @ Kristen at 10spot – LoL.. fake posts. Great suggestion! And you should continue to only invite positive reviewers to your focus groups. That’ll really improve your services.

  • Kristen Gale

    @Jessica Totally not just inviting positive reviewers! Please see my first response – I give my email there too.

    As for the fake comments – it’s only on the conscious of others and there is really no way to tell, so it’s anyone’s guess! From our perspective, we’ve had mostly fantastic feedback from our guests, so it did come as a shock to see us singled out as the only poor provider…. and a little curious too!

    Everyone knows the internet is a great place to bitch and be anonymous (as you can tell from all of the initials instead of full names), so it’s anyone guess, however, fake or real, we are taking in the comments and as I also mentioned above we are looking at the removal issue in every way we can! So Jessica and Lesa (from Fashion I’m guessing!) and everyone else who posted good or bad – I really would like to hear from you personally to sort it out and make the service the best it can be!

  • Jo

    I’ve had the Axxium process done at the 10 Spot and was pleased. My nails grow super fast and regular polish always chips after a couple days but I was good for three weeks of “Look I’m not lazy about my nails!” with this stuff. Afterwards I left them bare with just strengthener for a week before reapplying anything to give them a break, as recommended. Easy. The girls at the 10 Spot are lovely and it’s a cool and clean space, will definitely try it again!

  • Sarah Dunn

    I was the first commenter here (I’ve added my last name; I’m not trying to be anonymous) and am appalled by Kristen’s suggestion that the negative comments were posted by competitors.

    I was actually pretty restrained in my comment, as I don’t like to trash businesses in online reviews. It’s interesting that Lisa wrote that customers should give feedback directly because they want their clients to be satisfied. When I mentioned to my nail tech that my Axxium started lifting within the first week, she said I should have come in so they could repair it. I explained to her that I was on vacation out of the country, so that wouldn’t have been possible and that was the end of the discussion. She didn’t apologize and she didn’t offer to do anything to “make it up” to me. I didn’t push the subject because I knew I would never go back to The Ten Spot as the filing and buffing was actually painful and I knew it was very bad for my nails.

    The way Kristen has responded to negative feedback has only bolstered my earlier feeling that The Ten Spot is not a business I want to support.

  • Kristen Wood

    Dear Sarah:
    I am very sorry you feel the way you do about your experience with us, and as I stated above we are always open to ways we can improve our offerings and even our response to your feedback. I’d be very grateful if you would get in touch with me as we would love the opportunity to do everything we can to earn you back as a customer.
    Really hope to hear from you!

  • Kate

    I’ve been going to Ritual for years and can’t say enough good things about the shellac manicure, the staff, the salon itself – and most importantly the pricing!!

    A shellac manicure there runs you $35, and lasts 3 weeks vs. the Axxium manicure at Ten Spot which will run you $50, and lasts for half the time. Also, at Ritual the shellac is removed WITHOUT the harsh filing that The Ten Spot uses for it’s Axxium manicures.

    Overall, the staff at Ten Spot are VERY young, and are amateurs compared to Ritual. You should never have to file your nails to the point of damage during a removal, and FYI there is also no need to soak nails in acetate for 10 minutes to remove them the polish. It’s fairly obvious when you leave to do a brow wax, leaving your client sitting in chemicals that you’re just over booked and are trying to cover up for it!

  • JBean

    I had my first Shellac manicure from Claudia at Ritual. She’s amazing and so was my manicure. I highly recommend her and the Shellac.

  • Lisa Kozoriz

    Hey Everyone! Our Axxium Focus Groups are now underway with our protocol changes.

    Thanks to all who posted and contacted us personally! We are looking forward to your feedback on our updated services!

    Lisa Kozoriz – Managing Director

  • Holly

    I decided to give the $10 Shellac manicure a try at Wow Wow Nails about a week and a half ago… I`m so glad I did! They did a great job and it`s still holding up. I don`t think my nails have ever been this long, and I`m rough on my nails. I still can`t believe it was only $10. I highly recommend you check them out.

  • Silvergirl

    thanks for all the candid postings. I googled “shellac nails Toronto” as I am a shellac virgin, and stumbled upon this conversatio. A friend from Oakville who I saw at a conference in Toronto had gorgeous shiny red nails with no chips that she had done two weeks earlier. I am going to try this and will look for a spot somewhere between Yorkville and Sherway Mall. recommendations welcome. will write an honest review after my experience and post it on my blog … Glenda M.