Nail artists like Phnom Penh's Sun Heang can paint and decorate your
nails with jewels, flowers and hundreds of exquisite designs
A customer gets her nails done at Sun Heang’s Christina Beauty Shop in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.
THE fingernails of Cambodian woman have never looked so good thanks to the burgeoning trend known as nail art.
Glitter, diamantes, three-dimensional flowers and intricate hand-painted designs now adorn the fingertips and toes of ladies (and ladyboys) looking to stand out from the crowd.
Christina Beauty Shop director Sun Heang said nail art was increasingly popular with woman of all ages, especially brides-to-be.
"Many customers come to my shop to ask me to design their nails for wedding ceremonies or parties, or they just do it for pleasure," Sun Heang said.
Sun Heang has a repertoire of more than 200 nail designs after studying in Thailand, Vietnam and China.
"I studied for three months in each country to be an expert nail designer. In Thailand and Vietnam, they taught me their own traditional nail designs, but in China they taught me all designs," she said.
At her Sihanouk Boulevard premises, Sun Heang passes on her knowledge and skills to more than 300 eager young students, and it's her diverse course of study that makes her successful as both a nail artist and teacher, she said.
Doing nail art, she added, was not terribly difficult, but each artist had to have some creative flair.
"Besides learning from experts outside the country, I had to find my own designs, and I always learn by myself. I have many nail models for my customers to choose from, but if they don't like them, they can tell me to design what they like. I can do it all for them."
I studied for three months in each country to be an expert nail designer.
Shine like diamonds
Popular colours and designs often parallel seasons and major holidays such as Valentine's Day and Christmas, Sun Heang said. "In the hot season, they like bright diamonds because, when they go out, they will shine."
Rose Chansynat, 25, a student at the Institute of Foreign Languages, said she usually spends 30 to 90 minutes getting her nails designed.
"If I have to go to a wedding or party ... I have to get my nails done because I'm afraid that my friends or other people will laugh at me when they see my nails are bare," she said. "I go to the nail art shop once or twice a month to get my nails done with things like flowers or rubies on them. They can last for one or two weeks."
Chansynat acknowledged that it can cost a lot of money, but said "it makes my nails look good and attractive because my friends usually look at my nails and say they look nice, which makes it worth it."
One-of-a-kind nails can cost as little as US$5, but customers should expect to pay up to $50 for the most elaborate designs.