Spa Hacienda is an upscale spa and salon located in downtown Kingsville, Texas. It is owned by Meredith Benton, a licensed esthetician since 2001, mom and overall rockstar. I first went to her after a disastrous eyebrow waxing and now only trust my brows to her and her manager, Sarah Peterson. During my last eyebrow appointment, I learned that they had added a new nail technician to the group, Esteban Guerrero.
I went to check out Esteban's Instagram and absolutely fell in love with what I saw. Crystals, glitter, holographic powder, mini almond claws, coffins! Between the bold matte colors and mix and match nails, I was sold. What made things really awesome for me was that I had just recently won a $50 gift card from our work holiday party so I felt like this was going to be the best chance to play "Secret Shopper" and get some awesome nails!
Esteban was able to book me for Friday morning at 9 am, making me the first appointment of the day. I let him know that I was totally open to color, shape and design - I had a $50 gift card and I work on a computer most of the day and have two young kids. He recommended a coffin shape and got to work.
He started with a waterless manicure, removing my old polish, cutting down my natural nail and pushing back my cuticles. Then he used an e-file to prep my natural nail before fitting me with tips and started work on shaping the coffin. I didn't feel any burning or discomfort during the e-filing.
Next came the bonder and acrylic as he shaped the coffin and built up the nail. Esteban works quietly and intently as he would line up my hands to check. Now, I haven't had acrylics in over 10 years, so I felt a little odd moving my hands around and felt like I was apologizing too much but he assured me each time that I was fine.
Originally I was told that I should block an hour and a half for the appointment but at the one hour mark, his next client arrived and we hadn't even polished. Esteban chose a white Color Club gel and started to free hand a negative space triangle on my right index finger. Next came overall color on my right middle finger, ring finger and thumb. On the pinkie, he used a pink Color Club gel. For my left hand, it was again white gel for the middle finger and thumb and on the pinkie, he started a negative space Ruffian nail. My ring finger was done in the pink and my left pointer finger was left clear and he used holographic glitter (UH MY FAVORITE!) to make the tip opaque and then taper down to the nail in an ombre effect. For finishing touches, more holographic glitter was added from the cuticle up on my left ring finger and after top coat, I received some left over holographic glitter on my left thumb. The appointment ended after an hour and 15 minutes.
The price for my nails was $50 even, and I left a 40% tip because it's the holidays and I knew I was going to be reviewing his work on the blog, which some people may not love being reviewed without knowing.
Here are my nails:
Since this was my first acrylic set in over 10 years, I'm impressed with how the industry has evolved. While the length is definitely something to get used to, I absolutely love the shape.
As for the designs, I'm in love with all but the negative space designs. The hand painted isn't perfectly straight, which for me, is something I obsess over. The negative space Ruffian drives me absolutely insane. I feel like I looks grown out, not like a Ruffian. While the holographic glitter index nail is my absolute favorite, the glitter needed another coat of gel top coat because there is some rough spots where the gel soaked down and the texture of a rough nail is frustrating to me.
The thickness is VERY hard for me to get used to. My natural nails are at least half the thickness of these nails, but I don't feel that it's adequate for me to judge since I haven't had acrylics in over a decade. Also, the corners of some of the nails were not smooth which meant I started snagging on everything and it's only been 2 hours since I got these done.
Gel application does need a bit of work for me - as you can see, some gel is on my skin, meaning that lifting is possible over the coming days and weeks as the gel loosens from the skin. While I like the waterless manicure idea, I would have preferred a cuticle remover like the Essie Apricot Cuticle Remover and some time of cuticle oil in the end like CND Solar Oil.
All that being said, I've shown these to two people who had very different reactions. A fellow nail tech immediately was able to see the flaws and tell me how I can fix it to work in a way I need. My friend, who has no knowledge of nails except she is looking for a place to get her nails done - absolutely loved them and gushed over how amazing they look.
Esteban can be booked through the Vagaro website. The price list as of December 2016 are as follows:
- Full Set Acrylic Nails - $30
- Acrylic Nail Fill - $25
- SNS Full Set Natural Nail - $35
- SNS Full Set With Tip - $45
- Shellac Polish Only - $20
Again, my above nails were $50. I'm not sure if the $20 went for the specialty shape and each nail being different or how it was broken down, as it wasn't listed.
I would love to try the SNS on my natural nail some time in the future. For now, I am going to try and keep my acrylics as long as I can and will be soaking off with my Steam Off to see how my natural nails survived.