Best Answer: Practice, practice, practice.
If you have not already heard that, you will. It takes a LOT of practice to get good at doing nails. Have patience and just keep practicing. A few tips:
- Nail school is not always the best place to learn nails. Yes, this sounds kind of strange, but you will learn so much more after you are out if school and actually doing it for a living than you ever learned in school. Nail schools all too often employ instructors who really do not know how to do nails all that well. Sad but true. I hear it all the time from people who say that they feel like they didn't learn a thing in nail school. And often, they really haven't. But, its something that you have to do in order to get licensed, so at least you are on your way. Don't get me wrong though, you may be lucky and have some really good people teaching you and that would be a great thing. But it still is not until after school ends, and your career begins that you will really start to learn.
- Always practice as much as you possibly can. You say you have just started? Well, try going to the Tammy Taylor site and downloading the practice sheets. They are free. You may have gotten them given to you at school, I don't know. If not, download it, print it out, and laminate it. Then practice your application with it. Its a great place to start. Also try using dowels with tips glued to them. You can hold them the same way you do a finger. Thats a good way to practice too. When you get to the point of working on people, then don't be too nervous. Just remember all you have learned, and go for it. Take your time, and do it right. Your application time will be very long at first, but with practice, it will improve drastically. My first set of P&W's took me 5 hours to complete! Now I can do them in an hour and a half. Some people can do them in an hour or less. You'll get there, so don't worry how long it takes you in the beginning. Just worry about technique, and concentrate on doing them right. The speed will come in time. Just don't ever try to learn, or compete with the 'discount' salons. They do nails the 'wrong' way. They skip many steps, and don't practice good sanitation and disinfection procedures. Don't ever compare yourself to them. Just because they may do a full set in 30 minutes is meaningless. They are not doing things the right way. I have yet to see even one that does. They are NOT your competition, and should not be looked at as such. You will charge more because your services will be better than theirs, and you will use better products, and you will care about your work - they don't care about their clients. Its as simple as that.
- Don't get too hooked on the products thay use at school. There are many good product lines out there, and some bad ones too. I don't know what you are using, but it really doesn't matter right now. What does matter is that once you get out of school, or close to it, that you contact some of the major nail companies and purchase some try-me kits. A few companies will send you these kits for free, but you will have to pay for most of them. They usually cost about $100 or so for a professional size kit, though some are much less than that. My suggestion is that you try as many product lines as you can before you decide on one that you would like to use. They all have their good points, and their bad points as well. A few of the very top companies are:
Entity Beauty - Some of the best acrylic products made. Absolutely the best Kolinsky brush in the market is made by them, though it is a bit pricey - its well worth it. Get the Studio Brush, IMO. They have another called
the "Couture" brush, but many techs don't really like the handle, and its about $10 more than the Studio. But really, hands down the best brush available.
Creative Nail Design - The original nail product company. This is where it all began. They make some good products but many people have issues with it, such as lifting (especially pocket lifting), and it is quite ratio sensitive. A little too wet, or a little too dry, and you are going to have problems. But if you can master it, it is a great product, no doubt one of the very best.
Tammy Taylor - She has some good products, and many nail techs have been using her stuff for years nad years with no problems. Many swear by it. She also has some great educational DVD's out. You can also find her on Youtube. Just do a search there, and you'll find some of her tips and tricks. She holds the world record time for a full set of nails. From beginning to end, in front of a live audience, she did a full set of P&W's in just 17 minutes.
Young Nails - A great nail company. The best customer service available. Also some really top quality nail products. They have good educational opportunities as well.
- Attend trade shows & Networking Events. These will give you the chance to see some of the products I mentioned being used by top techs, and some more companies as well. The networking Events are a great resource for meeting others in the industry. I love them! They can be a lot of fun to attend. Don't be afraid to travel to one either because some may be quite a distance from where you live. Same for training classes. Probably the very best show in existence is called Premiere Orlando - in Orlando, Florida. People fly in from all over the country to go to this event. Its held in the beginning of June - depending on the year. Its http://www.premiereshows.com/ for the current schedule and info. If you can go, most definitely do it. If there is only one show you can attend, this is it. It is a two day event, so bring your walking shoes, and try to bring some cash or credit cards (Oh, I use them too much at this show!), because you will want one of each thing you see, I swear!
If you do go, make your hotel reservations EARLY as they will fill up very quickly. I would suggest making reservations in the beginning of the new year, no later. There is not a better trade show than this one. You will meet so many people there too, including some of the biggest names in the industry. And that is an important thing to do if you are serious about doing nails. There are some really great people in the industry, so get out and start meeting them.
- Take classes held by nail companies. Many companies offer training classes. These can range between $50-$300 per day. But they are really worth it. Get all the training you can get. Start now if you can possibly do it. Do your research on it. You'll find the info you need, and once you start going to classes, you will meet other techs, and they will be able to fill you in on other classes available.
- Last. Your instructors will not teach you everything. And their method is not the only one out there, and may not be the best one for you. You have to go out and learn most of it on your own. Do this through classes, shows, network events, going to salons and watching other techs at work (lots of them are open to this, but some are really kind of closed-minded about it, so you may get mixed reactions). You'll find some, though, who will let you watch for a few hours, and ask questions and stuff like that. Don't give up on this. You can find them if you really want to.
Sorry this has been so long, but you asked for it!
Best of luck to you in your new career.