Jin Soon Choi on Men Getting MAN-icured

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The first time I went to the salon to get a manicure at age 17, I was incredibly nervous and uncomfortable. I felt as though I didn't belong there, that a nail salon was a place only for women. Men don't do these things, at least that's the social stigma that's ingrained in men at a young age. I was afraid to be judged and I had no idea what to do or expect when I got there. In the end, no one cared, everyone was incredibly friendly, I enjoyed it, and I even came out with a small sense of accomplishment. Since then society and gender norms have definitely progressed, but how much?

I went to nail expert Jin Soon Choi to get the low down on men getting Man-icured. Jin is arguably the best and most famous manicurist in the world. Not only did the New York Times crown her the nail "guru," but anyone who comes across her immediately says she is one of their favorite people. Her resume reads like a phone book, with endless celebrities, designers and magazines demanding her services. She owns four spas in New York City and has her own line of high end nail polish sold in places like Barneys, Saks Fifth Ave, Space NK and Net-A-Porter. She has also been the proud nail sponsor for the past two years of a great organization and charity called Polished Man. A call to action for men to paint one of their nails and raise awareness about violence against children.

Here's what Jin had to say about the MAN-icure

Has there been an increase in men getting manicures and pedicures since opening your first spa?

"Yes, there is definitely an increase since opening my first spa in 1999.  I see more couples at my spas, both straight and gay.  I also see fathers and daughters coming in together to get manis & pedis - that's the cutest! My spas are known for their variety of treatments that focus on natural ingredients and relaxation, which I think is why men like to come to my spa.  It's more about the experience, the scrubbing, the massage and everything else, it's not just about getting your nails painted quickly."

What are your thoughts on men wearing nail polish? 

"I think it's great, why not?  Everyone is equal now and it's fun.  Yesterday I saw a young boy wearing bright red nail polish.  He pulled it off quite well, but not everyone can. Most men use black or very dark colors if they paint their nails. I think nail art would be a really interesting trend for men. I haven't seen many men getting this yet; only a few, but negative space nail art with solid lines or shapes on clean nails is something that's really cool. It's almost like tattoos on your fingernails."

For men who have never been to a nail salon and are curious, do you have any advice or suggestions for first-timers?

"Don't be afraid - just enjoy it!  There's also no need to do any prepping before going to the salon.  You know how some people like to clean the house before the house cleaner arrives, it's not necessary!  Just make sure your feet aren't too stinky!"

Many brands are exploring men focused beauty care. If you were to release a men's hand & nail care line, what would the difference be? Or are all hands created equal?

"I think it's great that companies are exploring men's beauty and care lines. For hands and nail care it would be the same; all hands & feet are created equal. It all depends on how well you take care of them. Men usually have rougher and drier skin & cuticles, because they generally don't take care of their skin as well as women do, so I would probably focus on hand lotions and grooming tools."