NCE Magazine March/April 2019Presented by Suzie

Table of Contents

  1. Coverby Suzie
  2. Behind the Coverby Suzie
  3. Storytimewith Suzie
  4. Spring Inspired Nail Art Tutorialby Natasha Harton
  5. Choosing Your Perfect Nail Colourby Chantelle Vermont
  6. How to Choose, Set Up, and Organize Your Nail Deskby Suzie
  7. Q&A with Celebrity Nail Tech Anastasiia Morozovaby Anastasiia Morozova
  8. Manicure Musts for Natural Nail Careby Lori Halloway
  9. Airbrush System: From Dream to Developmentby Tracey Reierson
  10. Competition Fantasy 3D and Boxed Mixed Mediaby Tanya Puttick
  11. French Nails Are Back!by Suzie
  12. My Nail Journey: From DIYer to Doing Suzie's Nails!by Serena Wilkins
  13. Taking the Awkwardness Out of Tippingby Elizabeth Morris
  14. Proper Posture at the Nail Tableby Hayley Clarke
  15. #suziesubmissionsby Suzie

Behind the Coverby Suzie

I had to have flowers on the spring issue! The only question I had to ask myself was: what kind of flowers? Should they be hand drawn, real, gel, acrylic, one colour or many? There were so many options! But, being that this was a very special design as it was going on the cover, I thought I would opt for a dramatic look and so I chose one of my all time favourite flowers: roses. I chose yellow for the roses because it’s a colour that symbolizes friendship. Friendship is how I got here today. I am able to be here, creating a design for my very own nail magazine (which has been a long time dream of mine) because of the friendships I have made online. The support I have received has made all of this a reality. So, to my YouTube and Instagram friends, here is a bouquet of roses, just for you!

The shade and tone of the yellow I chose for this design was very important to get right. Luckily, Ugly Duckling has never let me down. They have an extraordinary selection of coloured acrylics in absolutely top notch quality. I wanted an intense pigment for the yellow and when I saw theirs, I knew that it was perfect! I used #004 from their acrylic collection.

Ugly Duckling is a special company to me. I actually go back thirty years with the owner! She helped me begin my nail journey. Again, so fitting with the friendship theme of this nail design! Now, with her own product line, I am thrilled to use it- and even more thrilled with the results! Ugly Duckling tools and products are always excellent quality. They are one of my must-haves to keep near when I’m creating.

Here's how I made the cover nails!

  1. I created a collection of flowers, so I can decide which flower looks best on which nail, like a florist would when arranging a bouquet.

  2. I love building nails! I chose to do an almond shape nail for this set, as it showcases the diamonds and the flowers particularly well.

  3. I can build with any colour of acrylic, so I chose a pink from Ugly Duckling. Such a lovely a delicate and lovely colour.

  4. I wanted to make a flower in every colour because Ugly Duckling’s acrylic colour choices are so beautiful!

  5. The acrylic colour combinations are endless! But I had to commit. So, I chose a pastel blue to go with my yellow. I was drawn to the soft yellow- just look at it! Combining it with the blue, the contrast turned out beautifully. Love how the warm and cool tones turned out together.

  6. I love filing. It’s when you sculpt the sleek shape of the nail. Which for this design, was the canvas for my flower bouquets!

  7. The reason why I chose Ugly Duckling products for this design was because of their gel polish! It glides on and self-levels without running! It makes gel application a breeze. And again, look at that colour!

  8. Sometimes a quiet moment creating with a loyal companion by your side is all you need.

  9. Probably the most important tip for creating petals is to work with a dry brush.

  10. The next important tip: flatten very thin. The thinner the acrylic is, the longer it takes to cure. This gives you the time you need to shape your petals.

  11. If it’s being stubborn, use a little monomer on your brush to release the petal from your form.

  12. Here, I used monomer to release this petal.

  13. Be delicate with your rose petals!

  14. Adjust your petals to give them a natural look.

  15. Very intricate work, these petals! After I have rolled the acrylic, my starting point to form the flower, is to stand the center up.

  16. Before I make a decision on placement, I will pick up my flower and hold it against the nail, thinking about how it looks while keeping in mind what it will look like with the other embellishments added.

  17. One of my favourite accessories to add when going for a lavish look are DIAMONDS.

  18. Diamonds are fantastic, but they can be tricky to apply if you don’t have the right tool. Using a blinger tool is a must!

  19. Before the blinger tool was created, applying diamonds and gems was such a chore! With Ugly Duckling’s blinger tool, picking up diamonds and gems is now a breeze!

  20. Getting the right shot is serious business!

  21. To capture all the hard work put into a design into one photo is tricky. I couldn’t be happier with how this one turned out!

Visit the online store at

Use the promo code SUZIEPRO to receive a little gift with your purchase. The more you purchase, the larger the gift!

Storytimewith Suzie

I remember my feelings about opening my first salon… It was actually pretty terrifying!

I was twenty three at the time and had been working for a nail only salon- the first nail salon in Victoria (BC, Canada) in the 80’s. The owner decided to close the salon down when I had only been working there for eight months. I thought, “Well that was a fun and interesting experience... Time to move onto something else, I guess.” But then I wondered... where would the clientele that I had built over all that time go? In the 80’s, nail technicians were very scarce. And there weren’t any other nail salons that I could go work for... So, what could I do? And just like that, the obvious- and overwhelming- solution came to my mind. “Could I open my own salon? I mean I guess… No- that’s crazy! I don’t know the first thing about it!”

My main worry in owning my own salon was that there would be no one else I could turn to when I needed help. Everything would fall onto my shoulders. If I had staff, they’d look to me for answers, and what if I didn’t have them? How could I take on that role?!

But being the optimist that I am, I just as quickly began to think, “So what? Sure, I’m not going to have all the answers, but I’m willing to learn and investigate when I need to. I can figure it out! And if people don’t like that, too bad! At least I’m trying.” Almost simultaneously along with my worries, I was able to calm myself down so much that I was left feeling… determined! “As long as I’m having fun,” I thought, “I’m going to do this.” Maybe I was a bit crazy, but it’s what it took to get me to go for it. I decided to own it, whether it flopped or it flew! I knew I’d still be better off, either way, than if I did nothing.

My second salon, circa 1987!

When I did open my salon, my staff did come to me with their questions and it was my job to figure it out and fix things when they came up. There’s a secret though, that I didn’t know until I found myself at the deep end… And it’s that I still didn’t have all the answers. In fact, even today, I sometimes don’t have the answer. That’s never where it ends though. I learned, that being the owner didn’t mean I had to have all the answers all the time. It just meant that I had to be resourceful and inquisitive, so that if I didn’t know, I would find out from someone else who might or have a collective conversation where one is decided.

Another well kept secret I found out as I went further along in my profession was that the people who I would look up to and think were so much more knowledgeable and superior than I was didn’t know it all either! In reality, I found out that I actually have experience and knowledge in some areas that they don’t, and vice-versa. In discovering the people who I looked up to weren’t all knowing and all together all the time afterall, there wasn’t much of a need to feel intimidated anymore. Instead, I started to embrace the attitude that we’re all just people, in everything that I did!

For instance, years ago I booked a gig for my daughter to play (she’s a musician). It was for a fancy political event that was being held in a very elegant hotel. It was formal and very professional, with many well respected political figures in attendance. I found myself in an upscaled penthouse suite surrounded by people who I felt unable to mingle with as I knew nothing of politics and quite frankly, I must have looked out of place, as I was not nearly as posh and on trend as this crowd was! Even though I am a social person, I ended up finding myself not engaging in much conversation. Just like that, I felt taken back to that same feeling I had when I was twenty-three and was worrying about being out of my element. The feeling of being unequipped started creeping back in... But once again and equally as quickly, I knew what I needed to do!

Just like those many years ago when I decided to open up my salon, not fully knowing what I was getting myself into, I decided to dive into conversations with people at this event- even though I felt a bit intimidated. I thought, “Hey- I probably won’t even see these people ever again! What do I have to lose? If I don’t engage, I’ll miss the moment… And frankly, if I’m judged for whatever reason, that’s their issue, not mine!” And with that, I went for it!

A sophisticated british gentleman who was about twenty-five years my senior, dressed in a very expensive suit and who appeared quite intimidating at first glance became a sweet and down-to-earth grandfather who, while he was in the political arena himself, was admittedly feeling a tad socially awkward that evening for lack of familiar faces at the party. All it took was to start a conversation to find that he and I weren’t that different at all. We mostly talked about social issues and raising children, which were topics and things that we had in common. For where we differed, I was able to learn a bit about politics, which grew my knowledge on a subject that I knew nothing of beforehand.

It was enlightening and refreshing! Two strangers, putting aside their apprehensions and choosing to be open instead. We were then able to just relax and enjoy the party.

It became evidently clear to me, all over again, that the scariest part about putting ourselves out there- whether it’s starting a business or starting a conversation- is the unknown. Not knowing how something will turn out can be terrifying. We tend to think of the worst case scenario in our minds to protect/prepare ourselves. While this is natural, it still doesn’t mean that the opposite couldn’t be the case. What if it works? What if your business works? What if you end up turning that stranger into a new friend? What if it leads to something great?

You’ll never know if you don’t decide to quiet your fears, go forward and see where it could take you! Even if it doesn’t work out- you will always be better off trying. You will only learn from experience- whether the experience is a complete success or not. This is honestly how I’ve run my entire life. Taking something new that I have enough interest in to explore and just running with it. It almost always leads to something good, even if it wasn’t what I had originally planned.

NO ONE has life “figured out.” There quite frankly, is no such thing. We are all just winging it as we go along. And I am okay with that. I say, let’s embrace it!

Spring Inspired Nail Art Tutorialby Natasha Harton

This nail art design will make you feel like spring has sprung! Follow this step-by-step tutorial using Ugly Duckling nail products to create a light and delicate floral look sure to give your nails a fresh and fancy feeling!

Ugly Duckling Products Used:

  • Gel polish #’s 004, 011, 059, 111 and 126
  • Base/topcoat
  • Detailer and detailer II brushes
  • Matte topcoat
  • Gel cleanse
  • Crystal tip display
  1. Apply one coat of white gel polish #004 and cure.
  2. Use gel polishes #059 and #121 and mix with #011. Paint on each section of the background greenery by starting with one dot of colour at the top and working down, adding two dots of colour; one on each side.
  3. Finish each section of greenery by connecting their leaves with stems. To do this, draw long skinny lines joining the top dot of each section to the bottom, staying in between the other dots. Next, draw even smaller lines coming from each remaining dot to the main line in the middle, then cure.
  4. Create a mixture of white gel polish and base/topcoat to make a milky, but still translucent, shade of white. Brush this over your greenery and cure. This adds dimension to your design, giving it the effect that the greenery is in the background.
  5. With a detailer brush and gel polish #004, paint smaller yellow plant designs in between your existing greenery using the same dot and line method as before. Then, for the focal point of the nail, use gel polish #111 to draw a flower stem coming down from the top of the nail with long thick leaves on both sides.
  6. Use gel polish #126 to begin your focal point flower. Draw a half circle with its flat side facing the bottom of the nail and its curved side joining with the flower stem. Before curing, take your detailer brush and add dots of polish in a row to the flat side of the circle. Make sure to leave a little room in between each dot for definition. Cure.
  7. Paint details on your flower with white gel polish, embellishing on both the dotted and stem side.
  8. Using gel polish #126 again, paint on additional bunches of greenery in the remaining open spaces. If desired, paint on partial flowers around the edges of the nail, to balance out your design.

    Note: For a design like this, balancing the elements out will prevent the nail from looking too crowded, heavy or sparse in areas.

  9. Seal your design with a matte or shiny topcoat- it looks great with either! Once you’ve cleansed the dispersion layer, your nail is complete!

Natasha Harton

Natasha Harton is an Ugly Duckling Master Educator residing in Victoria, BC, Canada. When being asked what her hobbies are, Natasha replies, “Nails,” with a laugh. “Watching nail tutorials, making nail tutorials, nails… and more nails!” Natasha competes in nail competitions avidly and has graced the cover of Nail Pro magazine as well as being featured in both Nail Pro and Nails magazine.

Find Natasha on Instagram and YouTube as well as on Facebook.

Choosing Your Perfect Nail Colourby Chantelle Vermont

You’ve been waiting all week to get your nails done, so you happily skip through the front door of your salon, ready to be pampered and chat with your nail tech when all of a sudden you realize that you haven’t given one single thought about what colour you want your nails! So, you begin to frantically run through all of the possibilities in your head... Which sounds a bit something like this:

“I’m feeling bold today, so I’ll choose a bright pillar box red. But, no… wait. That IS quite bright and it’s only March. So, maybe I should go for a pastel shade instead… Oh, but I hated the last time I had that. Oh gosh, she’s going to ask me soon and I still don’t know. Oh, okay, I know. I’ll go for something dark and sexy, like I saw Khloe Kardashian wear the other day. Yep! That’s my decision. Hm… I do always LOVE a good nude though. Yeah, maybe I should go for a nude. But, I always feel so boring having the same thing done when there are so many colours to choose from. Nude is so predictable for me. Ah! She’s calling me over! NO! I’M NOT READY!”

Sound familiar? I’m betting it does, because we have all had these moments. Even myself as a nail technician, can get overwhelmed with having so many options to choose from.

Unlike other articles you may have read before, I’m not going to talk about what colours and shades suit certain skin tones. Instead, I feel that the most important thing to keep in mind when choosing your nail colour- regardless of your complexion- is to go for a colour that makes you SMILE! Something, that when it’s pouring rain outside or when you’ve had a long day or when you’ve just dropped your buttered toast the wrong way down on the floor (don’t judge me), that you catch a glimpse of your hands and think, “Oh, I just love my nails!”

Anything goes now with nails. I think that when you have to be a grown-up throughout your everyday life, it’s such a fun release and so empowering to get creative with the little things in your life- like your nails!

So, let’s talk about choosing the perfect nail colour for YOU!

First rule of thumb that we need to get out of the way is… GLITTER SUITS EVERYONE! I think that’s all I need to say on that one!

A helpful- and fun- way I’ve found to narrow down all of the colour choices we have available to us today is to think seasonally. Each season brings its own mood and inspiration. When you play into each of these palettes, while of course keeping your favourite colours from them in mind, it will give you new colour ideas for every salon visit as well as limiting the overwhelm from having literally every option to choose from.

  1. Spring
    What I call, ‘super neutrals,’ are a great choice. A really sheer pink brings a fresh feeling. I also recommend trying a white nail. White nails are not only gorgeous for seasons when we catch a bit more sun, but they’re also really nice to have before we dive into bold colours for the summertime.
  2. Summer
    GO BOLD! Oranges and corals are a staple for the summertime. The options for coral shades out there are never ending! If you fancy something a bit less bright, try a pastel. Lilac is one of my all time favourites for summer, and it goes with a lot more than you might think. Getting creative with pastel yellows, blues and greens is also a great choice, and you can never go wrong with a pastel pink.
  3. Autumn
    I- like most- love a good nude. There are so many good nude tones. If you aren’t already a nude fan, I’d suggest to continue experimenting as I truly believe there’s a nude shade out there for everyone! I love wearing nude in autumn with a burnt orange or gold sparkle. Deep chocolate brown is so flattering on all skin tones, and if you’re still feelin’ bold from the summertime, give olive green a try. You’ll thank me later!
  4. Winter
    You can never go wrong with a plum shade; deep, rich purples and reds will always be a winner. Experiment with a few different shades to find your favourite. If you’re new to the world of dark shades, I find those that also have a little bit of shimmer can feel a bit less daunting. If you’re not though, try a classic black manicure! You can add even more drama and glamour by choosing a black that’s super glossy.

Above all, when picking a colour to rock for the next coming weeks, always go for the one you gravitate towards. This may be a seasonal vibe or it may be expressing something even more particular to you. Either way, you want a shade that’ll make you feel like you can take on the world! Something that makes you smile and lifts your mood whenever you look at them! I love doing nails, but my absolute favourite part about being a tech is giving my clients a look that will keep them beaming way past the appointment!

Chantelle Vermont

Chantelle is the cofounder of which aims to connect and unite the nail industry while encouraging and supporting nail technicians on their own journeys. Chantelle has fifteen years of experience in the nail industry and has carried out six seasons of London fashion week, creating nail art looks for the models. She runs her business alongside her partner Jouvan- who is a marketing genius! Together, they have built Clawgasmic to help nail techs build their businesses.

Find Clawgasmic online at Join the Clawgasmic community via on Facebook and Instagram!

How to Choose, Set Up, and Organize Your Nail Deskby Suzie

We have all painted our nails sitting on the couch, at the kitchen table or even laying on our bed- and we can get the job done just fine. But, if you’re looking for more comfort or you’re going to start doing others’ nails too, there are a few things you’ll want to consider when setting up your operational station...

Your Desk


One important thing to consider when purchasing a desk specifically to do nails on is the distance it creates between you and the other person. You want to make sure you’re comfortable while holding their hands for an extended period of time. It’s a good idea to test this out with each desk you consider before you buy it. Bring a friend along and make some funny memories! You don’t want to feel strained or the need to stretch too far out to take their hands. Also consider the variables when servicing various people. Some will not have as long of a reach as others. A good width for most is anywhere from 20 to 24 inches.


Along with a standard rectangle, you can find desks in L shapes, V shapes and even half circles! If you do opt for a funkier shape, make sure that the specific area of the desk where you will be reaching across to do nails is 18 to 24 inches wide. Not wider as its too hard to comfortably reach your client. The other side or surface area doesn’t matter so much, as it’s more for storage. The L or V shapes can be very practical. However, if you work in a salon, square footage can be pricey, so an L or V shape may take up more room than its worth. Especially if you’re setting up more than one desk in a commercial space.


Whichever desk you decide on, I highly recommend that you have glass cut for it and placed on top. The reason being that acetone, monomer, gel, acrylic- all of the substances we use to do nails will damage your desk’s top if they come into direct contact with it. Having a glass barrier on top will protect your desk. Glass is also very easy to clean. Whether its an immediate spill or it’s product that has been sitting on it for a while, you’ll be able to get it off. Your desk will be kept looking clean and professional!

Tip: Be careful to not crack the glass top of your desk when adding things like clamp-on lamps!

Their Chair

I have found that having my clients on a stationary chair is important. You really don’t want the other person rolling around. One time, I actually had one of my clients lean so strong on one end of her roller chair that she ended up tipping forward and falling onto the floor! I’ll be honest, I did laugh (she wasn’t hurt) and she laughed too. But, I realized then how much of a disaster it could have been. Ever since, I’ve provided my clients with standard, stationary seats- and uncoincidentally in the next twenty years that followed, no one else ever fell out of their chair!

Tip: Try draping your guest’s chair with a cozy blanket or fuzzy pillow. It’s very welcoming and will have them feeling comfy and right at home!

At one of the stations at my salon, we have a full loveseat/bench. It’s beautiful and feels very private when you’re getting your nails done in it. Clients can put their purse and shopping bags on it- even their dog or their friends can join them! The only thing about using a bench like this is that to be able to move towards the table close enough for your nails to be done, you need to be pushed in by someone else. It’s kind of a quaint feature though... to have to be pushed in by your tech. Luckily Chelsea (our tech who uses this desk) doesn’t mind extending her chivalry!

Your Chair


Unlike the person who’s nails you’re doing, who will be relaxing during their appointment, you will most likely be moving about as you work. If you work in a salon environment, you will probably need to grab polishes you use from a central location away from your desk. And even if you do have everything available at your desk, odds are you will need to swivel to the side or lean over to grab something- from a low drawer for example- that you keep certain things in. There’s also just getting up to wash your hands in between every client. Having your chair on wheels makes sliding in and out of your desk as well as the constant movements you’ll be making everyday quick and easy.


Investing in a chair with proper back support is vital. The sheer time you will spend sitting and working in this chair makes putting some money into getting a good quality one that will help you and not hurt you, absolutely worth it. You will pay off the cost by the lack of massage or chiropractic appointments you may otherwise end up needing down the road. As far as having arms on your chair goes, it’s been my experience that they are they are not really needed. Often, they end up just getting in the way. If your chair has them, it’s okay. They’re just not a necessity. When you’re working, your arms are up on the table anyway.


Make sure your chair is adjustable! You will want to adjust your chair accordingly for your height. Positioning yourself properly at your desk makes a huge difference in your posture, which will prevent you from stressing your back and/or neck.

Tip: Remember that the more you lean your head forwards out from your shoulders, the more pressure you put on your head. Our heads are surprisingly heavy! It’s best to keep your head balanced between your shoulders. If you need to move in more, move your whole upper body in- your torso, shoulders and head together.

Your Desktop


The colour that your desktop is in particular might be something to think about as it’s what you will be directly working on everyday. It’s a personal choice; what do you want to see? For me, I find I gravitate towards light and airy colours for my salon decor. I love a simple white for my desk and desktop. The big advantage I’ve found with white and lighter colours is that acrylic and gel filing dust blends in with it! So the residue from my work is mostly un-noticeable throughout the day. These filings are much easier seen on a dark coloured tabletop.

Set Up

I recommend keeping your desktop as cleared off as you can. It provides a much more calming environment for your clients (and for you!) and helps with workflow. I personally only keep a gel lamp, e-file and possibly a couple more items that I use regularly. But, everything else, I keep in a drawer or shelf nearby.

You will need a working lamp as well. I’ve tried many-a-lamp in my day! The best one I’ve found is this task light. They are fabulous! They are so slim and non-invasive. When you look up at your client, it doesn’t get in the way! Big lamps can block the other person’s face, which isn’t so nice. Also, lay out a towel for your client’s hands to rest on, rather than just having the hard surface of your desk.

Tip: Customize your linens for that extra special and classy touch! At my salon, we had our towels embroidered, which is so fun.

Tip: Another extra classy touch is to provide a heating pad for your clients for those especially chilly days! Or even just for those who are naturally on the cool side or in the mornings. Not only will this make your guests cozy but it’s also best for the products you’re working with. If a product you’re using is too cold and then is applied to cold hands, it will crystalize before you get the chance to file it, which can really set you behind schedule. Warming up your client’s hands will prevent this from happening.



Keep small items you will need to quickly grab in your desk drawers. Brushes, cuticle sticks, forms, primers, dehydrators, bits, files, etc. Having these little tools stored in your drawers will keep them out of the way, so that they don’t get disorganized or spilled everywhere.


If storage in your desk is limited, keep a shelf with as much space as you need to store additional items that need to be kept upright or are just too large to have in your desk. When you’re ready for them, just slide on over in your rolling chair! :-)

Additional Desk

It may sound like overkill, but if you do nails full-time with appointments booked back-to-back, you may want to consider having a secondary nail desk. The reason? It’s a major time saver. During my busiest times, I’ve found keeping a secondary desk extremely handy for when I have two clients that have overlapped. I could set up my next client while my current client washes her hands before her polish. Having a secondary desk also allows you to fit in nail chips or breaks in your work day, without throwing you off schedule. If a client walks in with a chipped or broken nail, while your current client chooses her polish, you could set up the walk-in at your second desk and quickly fix her nail. While you don’t want to set your day up around emergency walk-ins, having a second desk available for these types of spur of the moment bookings can save you a lot of grief when they do come up. It’s also great for your business, as you are providing a much appreciated service to your clientele.

Overall, it’s important to put thought into your nail workspace set up. You are holding another person’s hand while you work on their nails for 60 to 90 minutes- it’s a rather intimate job! The setting you provide says a lot about your professional tone and it helps your guest feel like they are in good hands.

Tip: Put yourself in the other person’s position- literally! When looking for your nail desk and chairs, test it all out from your client’s side as well! Sit in their chair to make sure it’s comfy. Sit at their side of the desk to see how it feels from their point of view. This way, you are able to see what they will and this will give you intel on what might work best.

Celebrity Nail Tech Q&Awith Anastasiia Morozova

Anastasiia Morozova

Anastasiia Morozova is an award winning nail technician and international educator. She holds champion titles at noteable nail competitions around the world such as OMC in Russia, Nail and Lashes in Taiwan, Nailit in Dubai, and NailPro in the US where she is a four time gold winner! As well, she has won gold at competitions in Germany, Singapore, Serbia and silver at Nailympia in London. Anastasiia’s passion for nails has taken her all over the world. She travels as an educator, sharing her nail expertise and techniques, many of which she has developed herself. Anastasiia’s love for learning and teaching fuel her drive to keep pushing forward in the nail world. She has been featured in nail magazine publications including Scratch magazine (Great Britain), Nails Magazine (US), Hand and Nails (Ukraine), ProfNail (Netherlands) and Nails and Eyelashes (Taiwan).

  1. Where did you learn to do nails and how long have you been a nail tech?

    I went to university in Ukraine and have a masters law degree- but the whole time I was painting my nails! One day, my mother said that her friend was opening a nail school in our city (Kharkiv, Ukraine). I was excited to take lessons for nails as a hobby, and of course, I fell in love with it! I’ve studied at different nail schools in Ukraine, Russia and Dubai, and am still studying, because it’s never enough for me!

  2. When did you cross over to being a nail tech full time?

    After I finished my first nail course, I began doing all of my friends nails! I was so busy with it that when I finished university, I was fully booked and told me parents that I was going to work in the nail industry. I tried to work in law, but my soul kept telling me that I really wanted to be an artist!

  3. If you didn’t do nails, what do you think you’d be doing?

    I love to paint! I paint stained glass style effects on my doors and windows! I also love drawing artwork on interior walls, like bedrooms and children’s rooms. So, I think if not the nail world, I would be an artist in other ways. I am sure that I wouldn’t go back to a law job!

  4. Do you have a favourite nail design?

    I love encapsulating art with gel and acrylic, and I love my competition arts that are done with acrylic colours.

  5. What nail product do you use the most?

    I can work with all kinds of products, but my favourites are gel paints, acrylic colours, watercolours, alcohol inks, translucent gels and all kinds of accessories and stones!

  6. Do you travel a lot?

    Yes! I am travelling all over the world- though most of the time I spend in the US. Last year I was gone for seven months in total. I was in Vietnam a few times, Singapore, China, Australia, Africa, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Italy, France, Amsterdam, Belgium, Germany, Bulgaria, Turkey, Great Britain, Ireland, the US, Mexico and of course- Ukraine and Russia.

  7. Do you have a favourite place out of everywhere you’ve been?

    The US is my favourite country! You can find all kinds of climates there. And it’s very diverse. I’m happy to work with people of different nationalities and cultures. I have a lot of friends in the USA.

  8. You’ve worked backstage as a nail tech for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show too! How did you get involved with that?

    I got involved through the LeChat Nail Company. I’m one of their international nail educators. LeChat Nails was the nail sponsor for the Victoria’s Secret show in 2018 in New York. I had the opportunity there to be a part of the backstage group and work on the VS angels’ nails.

  9. Is it crazy behind the scenes?

    The VS show last year in New York had a lot of people, but everything is super organized! Everyone was working very well as a team.

  10. Do you get much time to prepare the nails or do you paint them the same day as the show?

    We paint the nails for the models backstage side by side with the hair and makeup artists. Victoria’s Secret chose three ‘Dare to Wear’ colours from LeChat nail care products. They were nude colours, which is what they love!

  11. What was your favourite part about being involved with the VS fashion show?

    My favourite part about VSFS is the feeling and understanding that I’m a part of a very big event! Every time I’m watching the show on TV, I’m excited all over again and am telling my friends, “You see! I did nails for them!”

  12. Were you nervous to be working on the VS models?

    Oh yes! I didn’t know the process of backstage and I didn’t have any idea how to work there- which is why I was nervous. But, everything backstage is very organized. All of the models have their own areas with hairstylists and makeup artists, so we [the nail techs] just jump from one station to another. And when I started to work, I didn’t have time for nerves because we were so busy!

  13. Did you learn anything new from being involved in a highly covered live fashion like VS?

    Now, I really know how to work on nails in extreme situations when your model is super busy with interviews, makeup and hair and they are moving their hands all the time! Now I know how to apply on a moving hand without messing up the cuticles! ;-)

  14. Do you keep in touch with anyone you met at the VS show?

    While working, we really don’t have time to talk with the models, because they have their own schedule with the interviews. But, with our nail team, we always keep in touch. We have our group chat where we are sharing our news.

  15. What does a typical work day look like for you?

    Well, my typical work day is very busy! It’s beauty shows, demo classes, lessons, airports and airplanes. Now, I feel comfortable in airports all over the world! I feel very energetic and happy when I’m sharing my knowledge and experiences with my students and can see their results. My job makes me very happy!

Follow Anastasiia and her work on Instagram!

Manicure Musts for Natural Nail Careby Lori Halloway

Everyone who wants beautiful nails doesn’t always realize that it begins with proper nail care. Instead, they go straight to throwing on a coat of polish, which can actually damage your nails by leaving them stained, dehydrated- and if the polish isn’t applied properly- peeling as well! Nicely manicured natural nails are underrated. Taking good care of your natural nails will not only leave them looking great- even when they are bare naked- but they will be healthy too! As a professional nail manicurist for over twenty five years, my advice to anyone who wants gorgeous nails- whether they want a natural look or all the works- is to start with the basics, and that’s nail hygiene!

So, what tools do you need to take care of your nails? I highly recommend investing in high quality stainless steel nail care tools. Many people run to the store and grab the first thing they see on the shelf that matches the description of what they’re looking for. The problem with this though is that many of the tools on the market today unfortunately aren’t made to last that long, and they end up falling apart quickly or rusting. Instead of having to repurchase the same low quality tools over and over again, purchasing tools that are made to last right off the bat will save you time, and money in the long run. As well, a good nail tool kit will improve your manicuring skills! Look for stainless steel tools that you can disinfect.

Now that you have what you need, let’s go through, step-by-step, how to take care of your natural nails, following a routine that will leave them feeling fabulous and flaunt worthy all on their own, every time!

Manicure Musts for Natural Nail Care

  1. Use cuticle remover, not water!

    Apply cuticle remover to the skin around the nail. Some of the remover will penetrate into the nail plate, but not enough to make a difference in the adhesion of nail polish like soaking in water would. The nail plate is porous, so soaking it in water causes the nail plate to swell and slightly change shape. Doing this would cause nail polish you apply later to peel and chip- even after the nail dries.

  2. Determine how much free edge you have on each nail before you begin to trim.

    Buildup under the nail can make it difficult to see the attachment point, so make sure to get a clear visual before you begin to trim. You do not want to cut your skin accidentally! After, apply more cuticle remover to the skin around the nail.

  3. Use nippers!

    Using 5mm nippers, trim the excess free edge of the nail. Insert the tip of the nippers halfway on one side of the nail and squeeze to make a small cut. Move along the nail, continuing to nip in the desired shape. Using a tool like this over standard fingernail clippers avoids bending the nail plate and exposing it to unnecessary pressure when you squeeze to trim the nail.

  4. File the nail square on its free edge.

    Smooth, shape and file your nail, taking special care to not tip the file forward or lean it backward. Sitting the file square on the nail’s free edge prevents it from becoming weak and less durable, like it can become after being filed at an angle.

  5. Use lots of cuticle remover!

    Applying generous amounts of cuticle remover to the skin around the nail will moisturize any dead skin, making it much easier and safer to remove. So, before using a cuticle pusher, apply another layer of cuticle remover!

  6. Carefully use a cuticle pusher.

    Using a cuticle pusher will remove the dead tissue from the nail plate as well as the fingertip. Be gentle while doing this! Place the angled end of the cuticle pusher on the nail plate and lightly push back the cuticle area. Do not push down on the nail plate too hard- you can actually scrape layers of the nail plate off doing this!

  7. Never cause damage to living tissue around the nail.

    Using nippers again, trim away any loose, white skin around the nail. This type of skin is not living tissue and is okay to trim. Use caution so as not to accidentally trim any living tissue.

And voila! Your natural nails are cleaned up, moisturized and revitalized! This type of personal hygiene can be significant for reasons you may not have even realized. When you give yourself a manicure, you’re taking care of yourself. And when you take care of yourself, it’s showing yourself love, and loving yourself is the #1 must!

Lori Halloway

Lori Halloway is the creator of the Meticulous Manicurist nail tutorials, owner of Voila Salon and Spa in Saline, Michigan and author of Shear Savvy Secrets and Strategies for Successful Salon Apprenticeships. Lori has an associates degree in science, as well as art with a background in business. Throughout her nail career and online presence, Lori has been able to use these skills to provide a unique take on nails and the nail business. She has been recognized as a leader in the nail industry by magazines including Nails Magazine, Nail Pro, American Salon and TNG Magazine.

Find Lori at as well as on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Visit Lori’s online store to find quality nail care tools!

Airbrush System: From Dream to Developmentby Tracey Reierson

The airbrush is, and has always been, my nail art weapon of choice. I am personally not much of a hand painter. To be honest, I’m pretty horrible at it! Back in the day, when I ran my own business and salon, I used my airbrush non-stop to create the abstract nail art looks that I loved. At that time, it was the nineties and an airbrush was a clunky piece of equipment. It had to be used with a huge compressor, a long hose and it made a ton of noise. On top of all of that, airbrushes then were very expensive.

Flash forward to just a couple years ago, where as Director of Global Education for Young Nails as well as having my hand in developing products, I was perusing a nail trade show when I stumbled across something familiar that caught my eye. It was a twist on the old classic; a sleek and modern airbrush unit that made the one I used to use look like a busted old heap! This one was a beauty- and handheld! It sported a cordless compressor, operated without a hose and ran quieter than I could have ever imagined. I was so excited by this discovery! I reminisced back on my salon days when I would swear by my airbrush. The thought of bringing it back, better than ever, for nail techs to use made me ecstatic! I had to get my hands on it…

After a year of waiting (as the model I happened upon that day at the show wasn’t designed for nails and had an exclusivity on it) I finally had a sample of the airbrush unit to try out for myself. I couldn’t wait to test it and finally see if all of my airbrush dreams would come true!

And… they didn’t. Well, not at first anyway. Testing the initial sample we received, the airbrush didn’t have enough PSI. PSI indicates how much air is being pushed through the compressor. For airbrushing nails, a high PSI is needed to create small paint particles that result in a soft spray. Too low of a PSI causes large paint particles to come through, which creates too rough of a look. So, we went back to the drawing board. This time, requesting the alterations that were needed. The company didn’t think keeping the same design while switching to a stronger motor would even be possible, but luckily for us, we were sent back our updated airbrush in only a month and it was time for our second moment of truth.

This time, it worked! It was everything I had dreamed come to life! After two years of biding our time and troubleshooting an airbrush model fit for nails, we were thrilled to introduce the Young Nails Airbrush System to the market!

Myself, Greg, and Habib of Young Nails

When we did release the airbrush to the public, our initial reviews were mixed. We were criticized for trying to bring something old school back again- and we were! We wanted to make what was old school, new school! This happens all the time in creative work. For instance, take the world of fashion and cosmetics. They are constantly recreating retro-inspired things: the cat eye, acid wash jeans, tie-dye, fringe, etc. The list goes on and on.

Not only were we attempting a comeback of a nail technique popular over two decades ago, we were also aiming to provide nail techs with a more cost effective and efficient tool for labour intensive nail designs. Take the ombre nail design- it can eat up a lot of time and be highly involved. But with the use of an airbrush, it can literally take less than five minutes to execute.

As a nail tech myself, I believe that we should be able to run seriously lucrative businesses. With a product back on the market like the airbrush system, nail techs can create designs for their clients quickly and effortlessly- without any of the hassle while still charging the same amount for the service. What tech doesn’t want to work smarter, delivering beautiful nails with precision and speed while making a healthy profit?

Even though myself and our team at Young Nails were behind the airbrush system and what it would provide for techs everywhere, with all the less-than-positive feedback we were getting off the bat, it became easy to second guess ourselves. After so much time, energy, money and resources put into the system, the stress and worry that it wouldn’t do well loomed over us.

Still, we went forward! We decided to pre-sale the airbrush on Black Friday and it ended up selling out in under three days! Of course, we were extremely happy with this and very relieved.

Bringing the Airbrush System back to the industry was an old dream of mine that was made anew and came true. However, as you can see, it didn’t happen overnight. Developing a product, like any big project, starts with a dream; a vision, continues with research and a team as well as trial and error and finally, after all this over time, it can come to fruition.

Tracey Reierson

Tracey, General Manager for Young Nails Inc. is well respected in the professional nail industry for her exacting technique and creative talent. Her career began 20 years ago as a manicurist in Northern California. Since then, Tracey has traveled across the US and around the world training thousands of nail technicians every year. While not on the road, Tracey can be found at the Young Nails HQ developing innovative nail care and nail enhancement products or teaching week long Master Classes to highly seasoned nail artists.

Follow Tracey on Instagram @treierson, and Young Nails on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook,

Competition Fantasy 3D and Boxed Mixed Mediaby Tanya Puttick

The art of 3D is an amazing skill that teaches you about patience, dedication, emotions, comfort zones, deadlines, problem solving, research, skill and most importantly: family support. Just writing about the experience of creating an entry piece for a competition is a roller coaster of emotions! There are times when you feel accomplished and then in the next moment, you want to throw in the towel and ugly cry yourself to shame and completely give up! All that said, is it worth to persevere and follow through? You might think your entry is incomplete or simply not your best work, but it could be an amazingly outstanding piece to someone else- like a judge! You will always learn from the experience, whether you come out on top or not. And that’s the real reward.

So what is competition 3D, fantasy and boxed mixed media? It’s a competition designed to challenge nail technicians of all levels by giving them the opportunity to push their skills to the limit- outside of their everyday work life in the salon. There are several categories of entry for every competition arena. From aspiring (nail tech of two years or less), novice (never won before) and veteran (have won a previous competition at that event). A novice entry would have half the amount of work that a veteran submission would. For example: three to five nail tips vs. five to ten nail tips.

Here you can see the 3D sculptures sitting on top of nails.
And here is a boxed mixed media piece, standing alone on display.

Competition rules also vary with each one you enter. My personal favorites are 3D, boxed mixed media and fantasy. Typically in boxed mixed media you can have a set of rules that will give you height restrictions forcing you to make figurines as small as a quarter or less. In others, you can have no limits and the sky’s the limit! You can incorporate the mounting board in your piece to make your entry come to life! All of these rules present challenges, which will force you to think outside of the box- pun intended!

In the competitions, 3D sculptures are made solely out of nail products with a given set of rules. These rules vary with each competition you enter. Your job as an artist entering is to interpret the theme in your own way- which allows for so many different ideas and directions! The judges love to be wowed by creativity and uniqueness. Some will allow you to use a small percentage of embellishments. 3D sculptures are securely attached to nail tips. Depending on which competition you entered for, boxed mixed media for example the tips are secured on a board or a shadow box. In fantasy, you must pre-make 3D figurines and place them onto 10 nail tips and then apply them to your live model at the show within one hour. Some of the most common categories to compete in at the trade shows are salon success, extreme shapes, gel polish application, hand painted design (no texture), bling or glamour, photographic, lashes, 3D mixed media and fantasy.

This is a piece I entered at Nail Nation Expo in 2017 and that won 1st place Veteran. The theme was Coney Island Warped Reality and it managed to score perfect tens across the table, which the judges there had never seen! I called it, “Theme Park of Death: One Last Ride Before You Die.”

For me, my passion for 3D art began when I took a class with Angela Beer in May of 2015. We made little pieces of sushi, leaves, water globes and even a Starbucks green tea frappuccino that was the size of a nickel! I had no idea that such a craft even existed before this, I was blown away. From that point on, I was hooked and wanted to keep learning more. The first thing I did was join a Facebook group called “3D Fanatics.” It’s a group that focuses on this particular art form. From there, I challenged myself to take part in their monthly challenges so that I can hone my skills in hopes that one day, I too, like Angela, would compete at a trade show.

This is one of the monthly challenges I completed as a part of the 3D Fanatics group.

In 2016, I tried my hand in my very first competition at Nail Masters Canada held in Saskatoon, SK. The theme was “Coffee time.” I managed to place first in the novice category in 3D. I learned so much from making this first competition piece. I learned that your family is so important when it comes to support in creating such a masterful piece. It takes hundreds of hours in research and construction into making one entry. So, to have the people around you understand and be there for you throughout the process is essential. Also, the more time you give yourself, the better! I completed my Coney Island warped reality piece in ten days! Although I did very well with placing first, the stress from that short of a timeline was not fun! As well, the more you think a bit differently to create a unique and skilled piece, the better. The judges love it.

The process of actually creating a fantasy, 3D or mixed media piece is a timely, highly involved journey. It can take anywhere from 200 plus hours of work over a span of two to nine months. Before I even begin sculpting, I usually take about four to six weeks just brainstorming and researching my thoughts and ideas of how I am going to execute my entry. I search on Google, Pinterest, YouTube- I even sometimes spring ideas just from watching the TV or movies. Every category I have entered has been unique to me just from my time researching. The process can teach you a lot about culture, eras and construction. I have learned about old fashioned coffee grinders, the anatomy of a crab, Japanese taiko drums and how they are made, and clay sculpting as well as other arts and crafts. I think this is a really cool aspect of this artform.

Once I have a well rounded idea in my mind, I then start to draw out my thoughts onto paper to help get a better sense of what I am about to create. After that, I move onto deciding how I am going to sculpt each individual piece. For my sculptures, I like to do the majority in acrylic and then paint the pieces using acrylic paints and/or gel paint. For more complex pieces I find the acrylic to be more precise in my fine detail. I will find whatever it takes to help me make what I want! For example, the pocket watch in “Coffee Time” was sculpted by placing clear acrylic in a large dappen dish lid. I’ve also made people starting with wire and leaves from using an actual leaf I just grabbed out of my backyard! To do this, I paint the leaf using gel paint then cure, once fully cured, I pull the gel paint off and voila! A near replica of a leaf, and the detail is incredible! Figuring out ways to create great detail is key as this is how you achieve that wow factor the judges crave.

After all of my individual pieces have been sculpted, I mount my competition tips onto the display board and secure them tightly with pins so that it won’t fall off when it gets moved about while travelling or from being passed around from judge to judge. I then secure all of my figurines carefully with acrylic by placing them as planned to match my ideal diorama. For me, this is the most enjoyable part. I can then see, after all my challenges I’ve endured in creating the piece, if it all leads up to a success in the end or a huge epic fail! Either way, I strive to become better with each and every entry; learning and adapting from them.

In October 2018, I entered this piece as an entry in a theme called “Drumroll,” at Nail Masters Canada. It won me my fifth 1st place entry of competition 3D. I incorporated the Japanese culture with the theme and learned about the Kumi Taiko drum!

The nail competition arena is world renowned and popular amongst experienced nail technicians. It has become my passion to share my own experiences and the process of my work to the newer generation, so that they too can enjoy the rewards that these events and this art form can bring. I truly believe that a nail tech becomes better in their craft by honing their skills in product placement and control, color theory, time management, rule abiding, researching and creativity; all of which you’re challenged to explore as a part of these nail competitions.

The job of competition fantasy 3D and boxed mixed media is always a highly challenging feat. Overcoming all of the challenges that it presents provides a massive sense of accomplishment that’ll have you feeling like a winner- whether you place or not.

Tanya Puttick

Tanya Puttick is an advanced nail artist who has been in the industry for ten years. She is a Master Educator for Mosaic Nail Systems (Mosaic Professionails) as well as a Swarovski Certified Nail Artist. Tanya’s passion is in teaching all over the country. She wants to pass down her knowledge to any aspiring nail technician becoming a part of this ever growing and evolving community. Tanya resides in Airdrie, Alberta, Canada.

To find Tanya online and learn more about her classes, visit her Instagram and Facebook.

French Nails Are Back!by Suzie

In the mid to late 80’s and 90’s the french nail prevailed!

I would say then, that about 80% of my clients chose to have the french nail done. And boy, did I get good at it! I would have about eight to twelve clients in a given day and most of them wanted french. I did years of it. Fifteen years solidly with another ten years of about half as many wanting french. It wasn’t till about the early 2000s that it started to change. It was a slow change though. And some of the clients I did french on back then still get them done to this day. Tried and true for them I guess- I mean, french is classically beautifully...

But gel polish changed the industry with its longevity and strong wear. And then there were baby boomer nails. With all of these new looks coming out on the scene, french nails took their bow. And for the tech’s point of view, let’s face it, french nails are a lot of work to do. With full coverage gel polish available, the time and skill needed to attain french became less prevalent and worth it.

Styles also change, and that played a part in the french design’s demise. But, here we are in 2019, and as commonly seen in the fashion industry alike, trends return. French nails are making their comeback, but they are better than ever before. They have evolved to be much more sophisticated than their original design from decades past.

The nail world itself has evolved. It has grown to be a vastly larger industry than it was forty years ago. From this, nail technicians have become better as the competition has grown and the market demand has increased, allowing financial strides to be made creating new technology. The tools we have now allow techs everywhere to create things we could have only dreamed of then.

Take the mandrel for instance. The mandrel is the metal bit we friction fit sanding paper around to file nails. Back when french was popular, we only had a mandrel of one size and type available to do everything: to prep, sculpt and finish nails- and it was huge! It was about three times larger than most mandrels today. Now, with the variety we have, we are able to be particular about which bit we use for different filing tasks. This makes our accuracy and precision so much better. Cuticles can be filed smoother than they ever could have been before, and- you guessed it- executing a french nail has also improved because of this.

Now, cutting the line on a french nail is no longer the tedious task it once was! Looking back, I can’t help but laugh at how we used such a massive mandrel for cutting the french line. I’m surprised we were able to do it actually- to cut a decent smile line with such a clunky thing!

The invention of the inverted mandrel bit changed the french smile line game significantly. The inverted bit is a shaped mandrel made to file a well into the nail, which makes creating a perfectly crisp smile line a dream! Back when we didn’t have this bit, I took pride in the quality of my smile lines because they were so difficult to achieve with what we had. Now, although they’re not automated (although, who knows one day!), they are much easier to create. Definitely a win for the nail world and a big win for the french comeback.

Another game changer for the nail world has been when nail technicians have decided to take techniques into their own hands when creating and think differently. One particularly smart cookie- and I would love to personally thank this person- thought to completely reverse the normal order of assembling a french nail. Traditionally, the french nail is made by applying white acrylic or gel first (on the free edge) and then creating a sharp smile line with your brush and a lot of precision and skill. After, you’d apply your pink acrylic/gel onto the nail plate and do your best to snuggle it right up to the white you had laid down. The “reverse french,” is simply when you change up the order of these two steps. First, you apply your pink on the nail plate- even allowing it to cure and then crisping it up with a hand file- and then you apply your white at the top of the nail. Applying the white after your pink, makes it so much easier! The main reason being is that white acrylic/gel is much harder to work with than the pink. When you apply and shape the pink first, you are able to simply lay down the white anywhere on the free edge- even overtop of the pink- and when you file to sculpt and shape, you reveal the crisp line. I wish I had thought of this! It’s so simple, but so smart. I teach the reverse french method in all of my classes as the results are always unbelievable!

With the new tools and techniques that we have today, many nail designs are much more feasible than they ever have been before. The french nail is no exception to this! And we don’t have to be afraid of it with how far its method has come. We also have so many more options for the french design. We are incorporating glitters, multi-colours and a combination of mediums to create unique french styles. I’m so excited to see what the new generation of nail techs will create.

French is back- and it’s better than ever!

My Nail Journey: From DIYer to Doing Suzie's Nails!by Serena Wilkins

My name is Serena, but many call me “Pinky!” Why you ask? Well…

Need I say more?

I’m from New Zealand and have a passion for nails and all things pink and glitter! I’m happy to say that I do nails for a living- and I love every minute of it! My life hasn’t always been like this, though. It’s changed drastically even from just a few years ago.

Let me share with you how I got here; my nail journey!

Developing my Passion

For about ten plus years I had gotten my nails done. I always loved nails, but had never tried my own hand at it. It wasn’t until 2014 when I decided to start doing my own. That’s when my real nail addiction began! I began to paint my nails every single day. I was just a beginner (aka not good yet, lol) but I remained persistent and I slowly began to improve. I watched countless nail videos on YouTube to help me learn. And when I started stamping, the options for my designs became endless!

It wasn’t too long before people around me began to notice. They’d ask me, “Who does your nails?!” and I’d happily be able to reply, “Me!” After a while of this, people started to also suggest to me that I should be a nail tech. “A nail tech?” I thought. “I could be a nail tech! Why shouldn’t I be able to do my passion everyday?!” And just like that, the seed was planted!

In 2017, I completed a few nail courses focusing on gel application. I then began taking a few clients part-time while still working my existing full-time job. Later that year though, I knew that I needed to be doing nails full-time, so I quit my current job. After taking a few more nail classes, I decided that it was time to learn acrylic application as well. *Gulp,* the big one! Acrylic had always been tricky for me in the past. But, I knew going forward in my nail career that I wanted a good grasp on this medium as well.

It was also around this time that I found Suzie’s nail tutorials on YouTube. The first one I watched of hers was a chrome powder one. I loved this video because of Suzie’s excitement for the product- I loved that she got so excited about a new product, just like I did! I didn’t know too much about Suzie then, other than that she made me laugh out loud and she was passionate about nails. This shone through in all of her videos, which got me hooked!

Down the rabbit-hole of her video catalogue, I began to realize that she knows a thing or two about nails. Well, a lot actually. So, when thinking of where I should learn acrylic application and finding out that Suzie had a nail school in Victoria, BC, Canada and was opening courses up to international students, I thought why shouldn’t I learn from the best?!

I applied for her international workshop in early 2018 and was super excited to be accepted for her October class of that year. However, as life does, I was thrown a curveball. In February of that year, my sister-in-law was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Family comes first. So, Canada was not going to happen. Sadly, only one month later in March, she passed away. We had lost my mother-in-law in 2017 and my own mother passed away as well suddenly the year prior. In just three short years, my husband Simon and I lost three very close members of our family.

This was a huge turning point in both of our life journeys. Together, we decided that life is too short to not do the things you want to do while you still can. With that, we booked our flights to Canada and I was off to further my passion for nails as well as fulfill a small dream of mine- to meet as like to call her, “the Fairy Godmother of Nails!”

Taking Suzie’s Course

Suzie’s salon is gorgeous! I was in love the moment I walked in! And getting there wasn’t so shabby either- myself and the girls in this course were picked up by a stretch limo everyday! We stayed at the Empress Hotel, which was a victorian style hotel (looked like a castle!) with a modern twist. I felt so special and couldn’t stop smiling!

Like I said, acrylic and I haven’t always had the best time together. So, even though I knew I was in good hands, I was nervous about my ability to achieve what I set out to do with a product I haven’t had much luck with in the past.

Luckily, Suzie made me feel at ease and she helped me so much with my confidence. She made me feel like I could do it! She spent one on one time with each of us and gave extremely helpful feedback. I loved that the classroom was relaxed. Because of this, I felt very comfortable asking as many questions as I needed to. By the end of the course, I had a handle on acrylic application that I had never had before! I was ecstatic!

Suzie’s team was also amazing! Her head nail tech Chelsea, was great. She was super knowledgeable, supportive and always helping us out. Karly, who I nicknamed, “the Food Fairy,” was so kind- she got us Starbucks every morning! Did you know she’s an amazing singer/songwriter? Simon and I were able to see her perform one of the nights and we had a blast!

Suzie even brought in a special guest to share her expertise on one of the course days. Her name was Olga and she is a master at one-stroke nail art. It was incredible to watch her work!

The entire week was a dream! I wish I had taken the course sooner! Our class had so many laughs too and Suzie and I even bonded over our mutual love for glitter! On the final day, I kept stalling because I didn’t want to leave! Getting into the limo for the last time was definitely bittersweet.

Doing Suzie's Nails!

After the course was over, Simon and I had another five days on vacation in Vancouver. On a Saturday evening at dinner after we had been out all day doing touristy things, I received a message from Suzie that made me jaw drop. She was inviting me back to Victoria to come and be on her YouTube channel!

My first reaction was, “S*#T! OMG is this for real?!” I freaked out as this was unbelievable! I couldn’t even finish my dinner! I was so excited- and so nervous! For Suzie to want lil ‘ole me, a pink kiwi girl, to do her nails and film it- I just couldn’t believe it!

It was a huge honour- not only being able to visit Suzie’s nail set- but to be a guest on her channel! The day before the shoot, I was so anxious. Much to my Simon’s surprise, I couldn’t even speak (very unlike me, hehe). He told me though, that once I see Suzie at the set, I’d feel much better.

The day came and walking onto the set was even more incredible than I had imagined! Cameraman actually painted the background of the set pink just for me! Like, was this a dream? It felt unreal, like a movie set!

I was extremely nervous to be doing the Fairy Godmother of Nails’ nails- and for the world to see! I honestly was nearly sick! But once again, Suzie helped me relax. We had so much fun too- so many laughs. And what colour did I do her nails? I mean, do you even have to ask?!

My journey from being a nail DIYer to doing Suzie’s nails, as you can see, did not happen overnight. There were ups and downs as well as lots of time and work to hone my craft- and to even decide to go for my passion! I’ve learned so much from all of this. My trip to Canada for the course and meeting Suzie was the cherry on top. It was truly a trip of a lifetime for me. I now have such special memories that I will treasure forever.

If you want something, go for it! And be true to who you are. Whether that means becoming a full-time nail tech and wearing pink everyday or something completely different! :-)

Remember, “Life is better when you are covered in glitter!”

Happy pink days!

Serena, aka Pinky

Taking the Awkwardness Out of Tippingby Elizabeth Morris

Tipping is an area where clients can have a big impact on what we as nail techs take home at the end of the day. As we are all well aware, nothing feels better than making extra money to top off our income through the tips we receive, and for some of us, it is an important part of our total earnings- although it really shouldn’t be (more on this later).

Recently, I had a discussion with a fellow tech about gratuity. She felt so awkward about tips that she often found herself telling her clients to not worry about tipping her at all. She did this because she was humbled and grateful for their business, but this also ended up leaving her feeling underappreciated and frustrated with the lack of extra income she knew she could be making. She wanted her clients to be happy and she wanted them to show their appreciation by adding gratuity to their tabs. This is the normal expectation for most provider/consumer relationships, right? So, what is the disconnect? If a nail tech is providing great service and the client is happy with said service, then why is tipping not automatic and easy?

Money- although an integral part of our civilization for eons- has always been awkward. Money is generally considered in may cultures to be vulgar. Most of us learn at a young age that money is a very private topic. When asking for a formal sum, we write it down on a piece of paper and pass it over to our counterpart. As a child, you might have been reprimanded for asking how much something cost someone, especially if it was a gift. When you have any doubt you can’t afford something, it makes it even more awkward to bring up the price. Money can also often be the source of contention, conflict and stress in people’s lives. Friendships, partnerships and even marriages end over money. So, when it comes to receiving gratuity at the end of an appointment, you can see how paramount it is that the process is easy, smooth and discreet.

Luckily, this can be achieved in many ways. One way in particular that seems to be exceptionally well received and successful is by using gratuity envelopes. As I mentioned before, money is often considered vulgar- dirty even. To hand over money to someone blatantly is not viewed well in many cultures. Using an envelope for this can solve a lot of problems. First, it makes the transaction discreet. The client can select the amount they wish to give and can place it in the envelope without any stress of the recipient scrutinizing the amount. Many of my own clients will actually keep some of our envelopes in their purses or take one with them when they use the restroom so that they can organize their tips privately. I even began putting gratuity envelopes in the bathroom in a cute container for this very reason. All you need to do is provide some areas throughout your salon or work area where your clients can grab envelopes easily, without being noticed or having to ask. Secondly, gratuity envelopes eliminate any vulgarity or awkwardness that may be found in monetary exchange. It makes the transaction polite, proper and clean. Lastly, in a salon environment, sealing tips in envelopes keeps other technicians from being able to scrutinize how much each other earns in tips. Coworkers comparing how much each other receives can be detrimental to the salon work environment. By having gratuity kept private, it eliminates unnecessary negative competition or comparison.

If you use a POS (point of sale) system, then you will also want to make tipping an easy part of this checkout process. For example, at my salon the receipts have the tip automatically calculated and printed at the bottom of each copy. Having the tip percentage precalculated for the client makes it effortless for them to add it to their total and sign away. Systems like Square or Clover, where clients checkout directly on a mobile device, are also excellent. With just the touch of a button, the client can select the percentage they would like to add and seamlessly continue on with the rest of their checkout. Making gratuity a one-click decision that only the client can see is a very successful process. Just make sure that you don’t stare at them while they are making their selection! Place your checkout device in an area where the client can maintain their privacy.

Does your business service a lot of foreign visitors? If so, it is a very good idea to post some signage throughout your salon or work space that gently reminds these guests that gratuity is not included in their service total. Throughout Europe and in many other countries, it is extremely common for gratuity and taxes to already be included in their menu prices. So, of course when traveling, people often forget that things are done differently in different places. A gentle reminder is often all it takes for those traveling to partake in the gratuity process as well. Make cute signage and post it in key areas. Again, oddly enough, bathrooms make a great place to leave these notices. You can also place a sign on the wall directly behind you so that clients can clearly see it during their service. If you’re not sure what to write, search some cute sayings online. You can find ideas for this on sites like Pinterest. There are lots of rhymes, quotes and other endearing ways you can get this message across without sounding abrupt or rude.

Now, to touch on what I said earlier about tips being a part of your income… This is another area where gratuity can get really awkward and uncomfortable. As service providers, we must remember what a tip really is and what it is for. By definition, gratuity is a sum given voluntarily and beyond obligation for a performed service. Gratuity is not automatic nor is it guaranteed. Tips are a means to show a service provider that their work was exceptional. It’s important to remove the pressure surrounding the gratuity, that you may or may not receive. One simple way to do this is to put effort into making sure your menu prices provide you with all the money you need to cover your expenses as well as paying yourself for your service and time. When you make what you need simply by charging your menu prices, the stress is removed and tips become frosting on the cake!

All these tactics aside, when it comes to gratuity, it is vital to be self-aware. You must take everything into consideration. Are you providing an exceptional service and experience for your clientele? Be honest with yourself in answering this. If you’re not getting tipped even after considering all of these tactics I’ve discussed here, then re-assess your work to make sure that you’re wowing your clients with each visit. It takes consistent excellent service and ambience to encourage your clients to tip.

Elizabeth Morris

Elizabeth is a professional gel nail technician, artist, podcaster, YouTuber and owner of The Nail Hub. As a corporate financial analyst turned nail technician, she loves to share her passion and knowledge with others. Through a combination of financial expertise, salon ownership, and behind-the-chair experience she offers nail lovers detailed, focused, and professional advice to help them advance in their passions. Her business The Nail Hub offers the highest quality gel nail products, training, consulting and support for gel nail specialists and salons.

All Nail Career Education followers get 10% off at with code SUZIE.

Find Elizabeth at and on Instagram at @thenailhub

Proper Posture at the Nail Tableby Hayley Clarke

Maintaining proper posture while working on your clients day in and day out will not only keep your body comfortable and support the longevity of your nail career, but it will also present a more confident and professional image to your clients.

Use these simple techniques to not only give yourself better posture, but to also relax your neck, back, shoulders and hips as well!

  1. Keep your spine straight

    When working on your clients, keep your spine straight. You can avoid the need to lean over by pulling your chair forward so that your legs are tucked underneath your desk. If you still feel the need to lean in, engage your abdominal muscles. This supports your back while also maintaining proper posture for your spine.

    ✖ Instead of this...
    ✔ Do this!
  2. Drop your shoulders

    When we’re focused on work, many of us automatically tighten up and shrug our shoulders out of concentration. If you drop your shoulders and relax your back, you will actually allow your body to have more dexterity and stability as you work.

    ✖ Instead of this...
    ✔ Do this!
  3. Keep your hips square and your feet flat on the floor

    Adjust your chair so that your legs are comfortably at a 90 degree angle and both of your feet naturally rest flat on the floor. Do not cross your legs! If you need to twist around as you’re working, do not twist your torso by itself. Instead, turn your whole body together; your upper body, hips and legs continuing to face the same direction.

    ✖ Instead of this...
    ✔ Do this!

Take the opportunity between your clients to maintain healthy circulation for your body. You can do this by throwing in some gentle stretching (learn three simple stretches here) throughout your work day along with some nice, deep relaxation breaths. The more you take the time to practice proper posture, the easier and more natural it becomes!

Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.

Hayley Clarke

Hayley is a Registered Shiatsu Therapist and Reiki Master/Teacher who shares over 15 years of experience. She is certified in several modalities including strength training, a variety of physical therapies and energy balancing techniques. She has developed a unique treatment style which infuses energy balancing techniques and physical therapies to support your body, mind and soul. Hayley practices and teaches in Victoria, BC, Canada.

Find Hayley at and on Facebook.

#suziesubmissionsby Suzie

Suzie’s picks from YOUR nail photos tagged online!

Use the hashtag #suziesubmissions on your best nail photos on Instagram for a chance to be featured in the next issue of NCE Magazine!

  1. “Can we just take a minute to admire this smooth fade?! And the colour choice for the blend is beautiful. This artist beautifully paired the chunky gold glitter, complimenting the fade. Couldn’t love this more!”

  2. “Be prepared like this tech! When french comes back, they are READY! Killer C curve and crisp smile lines. Very impressive as french is one of the hardest nails to create.”

  3. “Love the geometric angles painted on these beautifully constructed nails. Nicely done. Coffin and almond shapes are spot on here. Striking and modern!”

  4. “This artist has made black- a harsh shade- look so delicate! The chrome and glitter combo has such a romantic, vintage- yet modern look. I love it!”

  5. “A beautiful choice in colours to create this tie-dye 70’s vibes nails. I love how this artist kept the chunky scale on the pinky the same as the thumb. Also, the two yellows are back to back- bold and brilliant!”

  6. “You can never go wrong with bright and cheery pink flowers! I love how the pink bounces off of the glittery background. So cute with the gems as the flower centers. I feel I need to go to Hawaii after I’ve seen these!”

  7. “This set beautifully captures the animal print in its delicate palate. And what cat doesn’t earn a little bling?”

  8. “This shape and colour compliment each other so well- they clearly belong together. I love how this teach placed a tiny pearl perfectly at the top center of each nail. And so symmetrically, too. If you drew a line from the pearl to the very tip of the nail, it would be perfectly straight. Gorgeous!”

  9. “The message of LOVE is received with this literal message on the nails! Like a love letter… And the red rose as well adds a touch of elegance and tradition.”

  10. “If Elsa and Anna of Frozen had a nail tech in their village, this set would be their specialty! So cool- both in temperature and beauty.”