H&E Paint Bar, Portland Maine

Hello dear friends! I took a nice long break for my health (still battling long-hauler COVID-19 issues) and then a long vacation to see my husband's family in Maine. While I was up there, I had toyed with the idea of getting my nails done but I had broken one on the plane and was just in a funk over color, shape and design.

I was browsing Google when I found H&E Paint Bar (Instagram), which mentioned their versatility of nail artists with a drive to fulfill every client's nail art desires. Since I'm can paint my nails myself any day of the week, I was really interested in having some fancy nail art done. Their website mentioned they offered everything from regular polish to gel/shellac, dipping powder and also Dazzle Dry, which I've reviewed on this blog before. They also offer Apres Gel-X Extensions which I've been watching on IG from a few nail artists locally but my nails were long enough and I didn't need more length.

They do have two locations in Portland, Maine but I booked based solely on time frame available and selected the City Center location. I booked a signature manicure ($30) because you know your girl has commitment issues with gel and nail art 5 fingers ($13) because I couldn't find the option for all 10 fingers but I did leave that information in the comments section.

I received a phone call shortly after to address my comment and when I said I couldn't find an option for the all 10 fingers, she said that it would change my appointment time from 2:00 pm to 4:50 pm and would also change my manicurist which was fine by me. I was rebooked with Asal Bahmani, and was excited to get it done.

You know I looked her up online immediately and found her Instagram (linked above) and started looking at all the nails she had done. That's when I decided to just give her free reign.  FREE. REIGN. I went in with zero expectations of color, shape, length, or designs. I wanted her to just go for it.

I wish I had taken photos when I walked into this cute little location tucked away in a gorgeous 4-story building but I didn't want to come across weird. Plus, it was starting to sprinkle so I wanted to get in out of the rain and resting before my appointment.

I was very impressed with how CLEAN the place was - both in design and in hygiene. Everything was a crisp white or pink, with well stocked nail shelves, plush pedicure chairs against one wall and the manicure stations on the other. I asked to use the restroom which was in the back but also clean, well stocked, and quite large (which was nice because I had multiple bags with me from an earlier shopping trip).

When Asal was ready for me, I told her she had free reign, which took her back a little. She said that no one had ever given her total freedom for nails so she was excited. She said that she had been wanting to try an "evil eye" French with solid accents and I was all for it. She did mention that the design would hold better in gel if I was willing to upgrade and I told her it was no problem. I knew this would increase the price a little but this was my one pampering for my entire vacation so it was worth it.

She started with the Express Gel Mani ($37), removing the excess cuticle from my nails, shaping them in to a soft oval leaning to almond (which I LOVED) and told me to ignore the broken nail because it would all work out in the end.

For the Frenchies, she used OPI Bare My Soul from the Always Bare For You Infinite Shine collection. This barely-there color gave me an even color palette for her to start on. For the solid nails, she used an intense blue but I wasn't sure the brand and let me choose what color gold foil I wanted. I went with a bright gold because it completed matched my alma mater's colors. The evil eyes were created with a dotting tool, blue, white and black polish. While the evil eye dates back to the Greeks in 6th century BC, it's also very relevant in my life now. I live in an area where people heavily believe in "mal de ojo" and its protection against negativity.

I was so happy with how these turned out! You can also see my wonky pinkie on my right hand that I broke as a kid. Now you know why I always use my left hand in photos! There was a slight raised texture from the dotting tool but not enough to catch on anything or make me want to pick at it.

Images courtesy of H&E Paint Bar

My overall service was $64 (Express Gel Mani - $37, Nail art - $27) and I was so happy that I tipped her well in cash. She was surprised at the amount but I had an amazing experience (which if y'all remember my last blind salon experience...) and cannot wait to visit next time I'm in Maine again.

REMOVAL! So I ended up removing my gel 10 days later. I had chipped two nails from heavy usage, some of the foil was fading, and I had grow out. To remove properly, I prepped my nails and used my "The Painted Nail" Steam Off machine. I ended up cutting my nails off too because they were too long for me to type with and I do a LOT of typing in my day job. Overall, my nails were healthy, happy and I'm remembering to use my daily cuticle oil.

If you're in the Portland, Maine area, I HIGHLY recommend H&E Paint Bar for your nail needs and shout out to Asal if you can!