Nail your skills - 5 Things I wish I knew when I started my nail technology course

There is this mystical ability when learning which is the ability to know what you don't know. You sure know a lot more in hindsight, but that does you no good when you are actually in the weeds trying to stay afloat amid new information, mastering techniques to pass an exam. All the while trying not to wreck your own nails in the process.

Demystifying this aspect of learning in the nail technology area is one of my main goals with this blog. That said, read below my 5 top tips I wish I knew when I was starting my nail technology course!

You will see some links to the items I refer to, some of them the exact ones I bought or equivalent, and highly recommend, others some nifty links to products I refer to, for a good visual. These contain affiliate links to products I mention - these are links that will give me a small commission if you use them (I really appreciate the support!). You do not have to use these to make purchases if you don't want to!

  1. Don't use your own hands, use practice tips instead.

    You probably won't see it at the start and it will sure feel a lot more intuitive to work on your own hands. But it is not. Believe me. You can use anything and everything to practice on.  Paper to practice your beads if you are training in acrylic. Any display tip will work for that as well. This is the type I started using at first, and then graduated to these. However, the money is in a nail trainer, or a practice hand, this is the one I bought and was extremely happy with (and still am!). These will be life savers as you will be able to fit forms into them and practice your nail extensions.
  2. If you are going to use your nails as practice take precautions.

    I said before, practising on your own nails will be intuitive and a little bit less awkward at first than using a nail trainer. So, if you must (I bet you will), use a peel off base coat! There are a plenty (this Amazon search list is an example of how many are readily available), but you want something that is a bit more than diluted glue. I highly recommend the UNT Ready For Take Off Peelable Peel-Off Base Coat. It goes on smooth, and if you actually want to get some wear some of the efforts of your experiments, it's the best out there.

    Pro Tip: Further down the line, both the tips as well as the peel off base coat will be of use, you can see it as an investment. You will use the tips to practice your art and display it and you can do live swatches of your products to add to your photo portfolios and show your clients.
  3. Practice, practice, practice!

    Practice makes perfect and this is no joke. It is a proven fact. In Outliers: The story of success, Malcolm Gladwell examines the factors that contribute to high levels of success. One of which practice! And while there are caveats to Gladwell's theory, the subject has been discussed at length (I highly recommend this episode of Freakonomics on it). The general consensus is that practice can unlock the mastery of a certain area or activity. But not any type of practice - Meaningful Practice. Purposeful practice is when you actually pick a target — something that you want to improve — and you find a training activity that would allow you to actually improve that particular aspect. Those practice tips will come in handy!

    Pro Tip: If you are learning basic nail technology, the first thing your educator will teach you is liquid to powder ratio in Liquid and powder products, or if using gel, bead size and consistency. If they don't, your alarm bell should be ringing, and you really need to read the next tip! Additionally, there are some pretty cool nail technicians out there sharing the knowledge too. Kirstie Meakin on behalf of Naio Nails Uk has released a brilliant video on acrylic basics. And Greg Salo, on behalf of Young Nails Inc, has a great series of videos on gel application (Young nails, is a resource for pretty much everything nails related).
  4. Ask all the questions!

    I've discussed this at length in another post, but here is the lowdown: If you are in doubt, ask. If you don't know, ask. If you are reading this paying for, and going through, a nail course, that is what you are paying for! Your educator should be able to answer all your questions or direct you to where you can get your answers. This should be part of your decision-making process when choosing a school (I also wrote a blog post on this). You need to choose a place where you feel comfortable asking all the questions your heart desires and they should have answers for you. If this does not happen, turn your back and ask for a refund!

    Pro Tip: You can judge this from your very first contact with potential education institutions. Ask all the questions about your kit, about the products included in it, about the topics covered in the course and the timings for each topic. If the person answering your questions is not knowledgeable nor points you to who is - that is a huge flag, walk away.
  5. Don't stick to what's mandatory, practice all the things, learn all the things.

    Don't stick to what the mandatory topics are, always strive to go beyond. You will very likely have a manual to read and study from, and your educators will provide you with notes. But you have the world at your feet and a lot more resources you can use. Use the internet to your benefit and research, reasearch, research! This will allow you to have a better understanding of the concepts you will need to grasps and will differentiate you from the pack. Especiallyin topics such as business, or health and safety, that get the minimum attention of all. Or even in product ingredients and what they stand for. This will not only make you pass your exams with flying colours, it will help you further on in choosing a great place to start your nail career, and market your skills.

Have you gone through nail school? What are your top tips? Share them below in the comments section!