nail me about it

I'm back to spending GBP and boy is it tough to do after paying much less for things in the States. When we first moved here I adapted to the exchange rate quickly but the one thing I still cannot let myself buy/pay for in London is a mani-pedi from a salon. First, I'm extremely picky as to where I get my nails done. If I can smell chemicals or see wall-to-wall carpet on the floor, I'm not going in there. Second, I do care about ambiance. I don't need a spa but I also don't want to feel more stressed out than when I arrived after loud TVs or constant chatter becomes too much.

Back in LA I had two great go-to spots that were soothing, professional, and best of all very affordable at $25 a visit. In London, however, the cheapest places I've found (and I'm talking about the chemical ridden ones) are £30, so about $47. I literally spent the first three weeks I was here popping into every salon I saw to get pricing and a "feel" for each. I never found what I was looking for so the next step was to finally learn how to do my own. I've always painted my nails but charging towards my own cuticles with a sharp object sort of terrified me. A year later it's one of my obsessions. I've mastered using the cuticle cutter and love the indulgent feeling of the almond oil stick from The Body Shop. The Priti NYC nail polish I use makes the whole process easy since it's fast drying and non-toxic (and lasts so long!). I'm waiting for another sale on Pure Citizen to snatch up more colors because the price tag definitely matches the quality. Then again, I've saved so much money doing my own nails that I'm sure I can splurge on a few new hues for spring. Are there any beauty treatments that you can't bring yourself to pay for or simply prefer to do on your own?