Jenessa Williams treats her ten digits to ten tiny masterpieces

Remember when I was a contour and foundation virgin? Well, a year at Body Confidential has made a new woman out of me and now, as a fan of all things beauty, it seemed about to time to break some new ground: my very first gel manicure.

Tucked away in Leeds up-and-coming Granary Wharf, Pastille Beauty Bar is something of a best-kept secret in the city. With a myriad of accolades to their name including Young Entrepreneur of the year 2015 for founders Abra and Erene and the newly nominated Nail Salon of The Year 2018 at the Scratch Awards, it is undoubtedly a success story, but perhaps loses out on some of the walk-in custom that a city centre store might receive. Not that this seems to be holding them back – as we arrive for our appointment their spreadsheet is fully booked out, indicative of just how thoroughly their female-led business is flourishing in a competitive marketplace. 

Right from the booking process, it’s clear to see why Pastille stands out. Friendly and personable, the emails we swap back and forth are timely and professional, with each member of staff that I interact with offering plenty of advice and ensuring that I have sent over images of the manicure I’m wanting and assigning me the best artist for the job. 

Nail art is a huge part of what Pastille do

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Pastille nails

Nail art is a huge part of what Pastille do, so in the means of putting their skills to the test, I choose a colourful terrazzo inspired confetti design – nothing too fussy, but certainly on trend and with plenty of tiny details. Even more fittingly, my chosen style blends perfectly with the salon – a bright happy space that features pop of mint and pink, feminine while still modern and cool. I’m settled into my seat, and work begins promptly at my booked time, rather impressive considering just how busy the girls have been with other clients. My technician is Claire, who’s chatty nature instantly makes me feel at home despite the slightly wince-inducing process of filing, clipping and cuticle taming that occur before the gel can come out.

Over the next hour, Claire works her magic in a manner that’s not hard to admire. She allows me to pick my shades but is more than happy to steer gently, suggesting a soft off white background that works much better than the subtle pink I was considering. She works deftly but with consideration, regularly asking my opinion with each colour in a manner that leaves me confident that I am very much in control and have plenty of opportunity to suggest changes. The girls chat and laugh with each other, and so us clients do too, creating a room full of gossip that feels very fun and inclusive, a definite change from the usual awkward customer chat that sometimes occurs in treatment rooms. 

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"It’s clear to see why Pastille stands out"
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Pastille nail bar

My manicure takes just under an hour, and I must say, I’m rather thrilled with the results. The colours are fun and vibrant, and the gel has held up well. A week in and there is no chipping or discolouring, and Claire assured me that they would hold up for at least two-four weeks total with good care and attention. By opting for nail art across all ten digits, my bill came in at a slightly indulgent £32, but for £26 for a regular manicure, this doesn’t feel like too naughty a treat when the environment and process is so enjoyable. If you want to go the whole hog, they also offer pedicures, waxes and tints, creating a one-stop shop for summer-ready beauty. Save yourself the effort and book yourself in with the professionals – they certainly haven’t filled out that awards cabinet for nothing.

Find out more about Pastille Nails, Leeds via their website

3, Waterman's Place, Granary Wharf, Leeds LS1 4GL