UV vs. LED 101

In light of recent news headlines and media hype regarding the use of nail lamps in nail salons, I felt some clarity was in order.

1. UV nail lamps cure all gel polish brands, LED lamps only cure LED specific gel polish brands

2. LED lamps cure polish faster (30 seconds vs 2 minutes that UV requires)

3. LED lamps are more expensive

4. LED bulbs last much longer

Why Are UV and LED Different? 

Gel nail polish is cured by ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths hitting the molecules called photoinitiators in the gel and activating them. UV lamps emit broad UV wavelengths so it takes longer to cure but works on all gel. LED technology uses more narrow UV wavelengths that target specific photoinitiators in the gel polish so the gel cures faster.

How Safe are Nail Lamps?

Many people are concerned about the potential damage or side effects from exposure to the UV rays from nail lamps. In reality, the UV exposure from nail lamps is minimal compared with other activities people engage in day-to-day such as walking outside, laying out at the pool, driving vehicles, outside working environments, sport etc. The majority of the UV light that nail lamps emit is UV-A which is safer for your skin than UV-B. Since there is a concern about UV exposure, LED lamps are considered safer than UV lamps because they require less cure time – thus less UV exposure. There are also safety precautions you can take at home by using sunscreen on the tops of your hands, or special anti-UV gloves that are inexpensive and an affordable way to protect your skin if you have heightened concerns.

Embellished Nails ensures that client comfort and safety is paramount. Last year a client expressed an interest in which lamps I used as she had previously had some skin cancer issues to which I responded by promptly purchasing an LED lamp. While all efforts are taken to ensure clients’ safety at all times, some clients may be predisposed to sensitivity and skin cancer and are welcome to take extra precautions if they feel it necessary. With the minimal amount of exposure to an LED lamp as opposed to a UV lamp during a nail service, it is highly unlikely to be the sole cause of skin cancer should one become apparent.

For further information you are welcome to read the following link by Doug Shoon, an international scientist, author and educator with over 30 years background in the nail and beauty industry- http://www.schoonscientific.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Understanding-UV-Nail-Lamps-1.pdf

The important factor is to be educated, choose a reputable qualified nail technician for your services and ask the questions you need answers for. Being educated and able to make the appropriate decisions for your treatments is your best defense and will give you the satisfaction that your health and safety are being considered and ensured while you are being treated to gorgeous nails and a break from adulting.

Have a great week,

Lou x


It takes a village

Embellished Nails has recently undergone some major changes with more still on the horizon. With outgoing costs on the rise, we made the decision to relocate the business to a renovated and converted sunroom at our home rather than pass on those costs to my clients to cover the increases.

We spent hours trying to choose from more than fifty shades of grey paint, different curtain options, light fittings and decor as well. Not to mention The Block style “Paint Nights” where we would wish the kids to fall asleep early so we could spend a few hours covering the hideous cream walls and the previously horrid ceiling that had paint peeling back to bare plaster. It was a true labour of love with a vision in mind and the reality is even better than we could have envisioned. Ive been building up my client base and have been stockpiling to the memory so many ideas for the ideal nail space I’d like to create and work in and finally making it happen has been an amazing experience.

Dreams rarely become a reality as the result of the efforts of one person. Everyone needs a support network to get where they are going. I regularly take inspiration from the incredible talents of internationally spread nail techs that I network with and collectively share ideas, product knowledge, technique education, constructive criticism and brainstorm dilemmas. But above all, the support gained from this extended family is phenomenal. The advantage of different time zones is that someone is always available to answer a question, offer a suggestion, lend an ear or send a shower of love and appreciation. Positive affirmation goes a long way and to receive that from others in the industry is truly empowering. In what is a predominantly female dominated industry, tensions can run high and tall poppy syndrome as well as jealousy and cattiness can be rife too. I was absolutely blown away with support, encouragement and beautiful messages this week from my nail tech family when I posted photos of my new work space to my favourite Facebook nail tech support page. In a group with over 11,000 members there were 485 people that liked/loved my post and 80 comments of positivity, support and mutual appreciation for the space my husband and I had created. The internal buzz from that sort of response was indescribable. Nail techs far and wide had seen my set up and took inspiration from it, asked where to purchase certain items, wished me well in my venture and seemed to love it as much as we do. It was such a beautiful feeling to be part of something bigger. An industry and group of people that share the same love for nails and creating beautiful spaces for us to work in and for our clients to feel pampered in. Ultimately this helps us be able to do what we love to the best of our abilities if we have an aesthetically pleasing and welcoming environment to work in.

My friends and family that arent part of my “extended nail family” loved seeing the photos from the reveal as well and were so supportive of the new location too. Its a pretty special feeling when a career and a passion come together and having such a huge and varied support network behind you when you take big leaps of faith can totally change your outlook, perspective, expectations and future goals. I am so blessed and grateful to have a wonderful husband, lovely family and friends and industry peers that have supported Embellished Nails in the new location and the ongoing journey towards creating amazing nails in a beautiful pampering environment.

They say it takes a village to raise a child but I think it takes a network to sustain a nail tech.

Eat, breathe, Nails, repeat

When I get an idea in my head there isn’t much that can sway me from it. I’m stubborn and determined and it’s always good when those attributes can work in my favour.

I wanted to be a qualified nail technician so I dedicated my Sunday’s to Beauty College to learn the techniques and get that valuable piece of paper I was working hard for. I gave up my family time and day of leisure in what some may think was a selfish move to go to that course but I could see the bigger picture- I wanted to be the best I could be and work towards having my own business down the track. I can now tick that off as Embellished Nails was opened in June of 2017. I’ve since built a loyal client base that is still expanding and I can’t seem to switch off my brain.

There are some amazing educators and nail techniques out there and I spend literally hours daily researching and expanding on my knowledge. One educator in particular is based in the U.K. an has such a broad range of skills under her belt that it boggles my brain! It’s quite unrealistic for me to pop on over there and spend months with her 1-2-1 learning all her tips and tricks but I have taken on the next best thing- an online course with untapped feedback and interaction with her that I plug my way through between clients and on my days off. I am so excited to learn each module as every one opens a whole new world of different products that can be used in such an incredible way and the only limit is imagination. Some days I fall short of inspiration and that’s when I find trawling my favourite nail mentors helps recharge the grey matter and when I get super excited I pick a suitable Guinea Pig and go for gold on their 10 little canvases.

After long days with the kids, Mum life and just the usual “stuff” we all need to do, I tell myself a glass of wine with a Cream Egg or 3 will be a good way to wind down before bed- works so well in theory until my mind wanders and I find myself watching subscription tutorials, hunting for new glitters (I don’t need more said me- never! 😜), ordering supplies, reading product reviews for the latest and greatest in tools, acrylic systems and equipment or coming up with designs specifically tailored to the personalities and traits of my clients before their next appointment.

I’ve done the 9-5 job thing (loved the family friendly hours), worked shiftwork for years (my body clock never thanked me) and now running my own business I work from my first client until my last and whenever in between. I’m as flexible for my clients as our home life allows (having a shift working hubby and 2 small humans is sometimes tricky) and I absolutely love that I have the support from my family that I do to be able to chase my passion, accommodate my clients and further my education in an ever evolving industry.

It’s Friday night and I’m going to put my feet up with a bottle of Moscato, a bag of some tasty chocolate egg morsels and wind down. Who am I kidding? It will be midnight before I know it and I will be glued to Max Estrada’s latest Facebook live and swapping chit chat with nail techs in different time zones. My idea of bliss 😍

Every story has a beginning

Often while face to face with a client both of us sharing in the fine dust landing on our hands and the salon aromas wafting around our nasal passages, I am asked why I chose to be in the field I’m in. Some clients prefer to keep chit chat to a minimum while they indulge in “their” time and others love to converse with an adult uninterrupted by the little people she created as a distraction from mummy guilt for taking time away from them. Conversations never fail to surprise me with the topics that arise and while what happens in the salon stays in the salon, regularly I’m the one being asked questions and being relatively new to town clients like to know a bit about the woman holding their hands. My favourite query to answer is why I decided to become a nail tech and how long I’ve been interested in nails.

I have fond memories of going to the salon with my Grandma who had her nails done weekly. She was a homemaker with a successful businessman for a husband who volunteered his profession as an accountant to many local organisations and both were regularly entertaining or attending social events. She always prided herself on her appearance and was never without her lippy or signature White Linen perfume.

Grandma loved her time in the salon and the ladies there were always so welcoming and she looked forward to it each week. At age 59 she underwent drastic surgery to remove a cancerous lesion on the back of her hand which resulted of amputation just below the elbow of her dominant arm. Once she was back on her feet after several post operative complications, Grandma resumed her nail appointments although initially she was quite self conscious of how she would be treated as an amputee. She needn’t have worried- the salon treated her like royalty and were so glad she trusted them in her regime of maintaining her personal routine and appearance despite her new found challenges.

I will never forget the decorum and professionalism shown by those beautiful nail techs that played their part in Grandma regaining some of her confidence. Seeing the personal gratification they brought to her life that had dealt her such a cruel blow impacted me in a big way.

15 years on when I’d reached my self sufficient adulthood, I discovered a wonderful salon with an incredible nail tech that has since won international competitions and has many accreditations behind her and developed a great relationship with her during my weekly nail appointments. I’d look forward to those appointments and spend ages deciding what I’d like to have on my nails but often I’d let her have free reign while she worked her magic. My nails actually became a talking point among the regulars in the hotel I worked at and it was quite a novelty each week to be showcasing her creations. I’d always admired the creativity as well as the physical process of shaping the acrylic, refining by filing, the different art mediums and “salon time”- the vortex you enter for an hour or two of respite from adulting. As selfish as it sounds I loved that for the time I was there it was all about me. The nail tech’s sole focus was my satisfaction for the job she was doing. For me. Total concentration and dedication to the task at hand while maintaining an engaging conversation. It’s actually like creative therapy!

About 10 years after my initial introduction to the wonderful world of nails an opportunity presented itself that I couldn’t pass up. My husband and I were considering a move for our family so the idea of a career change towards a business I could take with me proved more than appealing and the timing was perfect. In all honesty I’ve learned more nail art techniques since completing my initial course from internationally recognised and acclaimed nail technicians and artists as well as further courses I have under taken myself. My qualification course gave me a foundation that I have since built from and am continuing to do so with several courses that I am currently undertaking and studying for. The ongoing urge to succeed doesn’t wear off and constantly learning new techniques fuel the desire to be better and to be able to offer my clients an ever changing variety of options.

One of the most rewarding parts of what I do is witnessing client satisfaction. The work I deliver is a product of a long love affair with all things nails and many hours of training, practice and an ongoing drive to learn more from the best techs in the business. It borderlines being an obsession that I’m positive frustrates my husband when I want to live, breathe and talk nails 24/7. When clients are beyond happy with the ten little canvases they have given me to work on, that is the best reward there is. To feel rewarded for something you love is an amazing thing. To do what you love is great, but to love what you do is even better. You need a passion to bring out the best in what it is you are doing. I’ve got almost 20 years cultivating a love of nails and that’s where my story began.

The value of Time 

I recently had a week away in Surfers Paradise with my husband and 2 little people for our annual family holiday. We did all the clichéd activities like theme parks, strolls along Cavill Avenue, ate at a different restaurant every night and ventured into the resort pool as well. In previous years I have made it part of my “me” time to get my nails done while on holiday and have always gone to a nail bar or what’s known as a Non Standard Salon. Since becoming qualified as a nail technician I have learned a lot about common practices in many (not all) of these types of salons and have seen first hand how they operate and the products they commonly use.

I have had quite a few clients come to me after going to a nail bar with terrible damage done to their natural nails from poor acrylic removal techniques (literally having a nail tip placed under the lifted edge of acrylic and swiftly pulled towards the free edge to break the seal and tear the acrylic off the nail plate and in turn taking many layers with it). Another common issue I come across is the use of poor quality products that contain MMA- Methyl methacrylate, which originated in the dental industry for making crowns and bridges. It is also used as bone cement by orthopedic surgeons during joint replacement procedures, in some flooring products and resin. This chemical was not designed to come in contact with skin or nails. MMA is not recommended for use in acrylic nail products because it is much too hard, and can tear the nail off the finger easily. It is also solvent resistant, which makes it very difficult to remove. Salons that use products containing MMA do so as it is cheaper than products specifically made for nail enhancements and their bottom line is all about making money, getting people through the doors as fast as possible and not investing money into their business with the vision of creating customer satisfaction. 

Now I’m not saying all nail bars are like this, I’ve personally been to some that aren’t but making a client feel valued during their time in the salon is worth more than any business will charge. When you value your clients you want to give them an experience that they look forward to repeating and for them to feel like they are the only priority while they are there. When I had my most recent nail bar experience I went only for a pedicure (who doesn’t love a foot massage and pretty toes?!?) but I was expecting to  have some conversation, have an hour of spoiling, maybe be offered a bottle of water or a cuppa (which I’d had to have politely refused as I’m not a coffee lover 😉) and enjoy my “me” time. What I actually got was a rushed service, no chit chat, a blank look when I asked for nail art and was told they don’t do that despite all the display nails with designs on the counters, and 3 different members of staff coming by to perform a different part of the treatment. There was no chance to build a rapport with the person indulging me, nothing at all to make me feel as though I wasn’t just a number but hey, that will be $70 thanks for coming. 

Putting a personal factor into every service offered is priceless. Clients feel valued and prefer to return to a salon where they aren’t shunted around and oare more inclined to look forward to their treatments and appointments as the highlight of their own self indulgence. Time does cost money but the value of time can’t be measured and if a nail tech says she can do a full set in under an hour you are at the wrong salon- nails are a work of art and take time. Time to make you feel special and time to give you something to show for it. Your “you” time should be at a pace it can be enjoyed.

Have a wonderful week ahead

Lou x

More than you bargained for 

Does anyone really consider what you get for your money and all the extras rolled in that you didn’t specifically ask for but are kind of hidden bonuses? At times the service industry goes unappreciated and often the person providing that service can feel that way too.

When you choose to pay for a service of any kind you don’t just get what you ask for- ever! You get so much more than that every time!! 

Now being a nail tech I will narrow this down so it’s a little closer to home but when clients book for a full set of nails they are guaranteed to leave with a full set of nails. What they also get is the benefit of a trained professional using their knowledge and experience to tailor that service to personally suit the needs of each client as we all know how individual everyone is not to mention taking personal preferences into consideration. The length and shape are the most obvious factors and these will impact largely on structuring the nail enhancement to ensure the apex is placed correctly to provide maximum strength as well as balance the appearance of the completely nail. It’s not just a matter of slapping on some acrylic and hoping for the best- if only it was that simple!! 

Special care needs to be taken with cuticles and sidewalls to ensure they aren’t flooded, the C curve should be natural looking and not too severe to avoid separating the nail bed from the nail plate, the thickness of the acrylic should be consistent and tapered towards the free edge and the prep work needs to have been thoroughly taken care of before acrylic goes anywhere near those little canvases. These considerations aren’t usually vocalised and are just mentally ticked off the list of processes to complete on each nail. 

Then there is the fun part of your design- some clients have very specific ideas of what they would like and it always helps to mention these in advance where possible to ensure a technique isn’t involved that the nail technician isn’t familiar with or experienced in as well as having the peace of mind that a specific shade of buttermilk or tangerine is in stock in the particular glitter variety that you would like. Glitter isn’t just glitter as many of my clients have learned- soooo many different types but that’s a whole other blog post…. 

Some clients are happy to give free reign to the brains trust and are open to the creativity of whatever mood takes the nail tech on that day. These nail designs are often the most fun especially if the client has given a heads up prior to the appointment so some research can be done into new nails trends or products and techniques to try out. Let’s face it- we all want something specifically for us and no one wants exactly the same as what is on everyone else’s nails. Stand out from the crowd- own your creativity!

Your nail appointment isn’t always just to have your nails done. You are also getting “You time” and no one can put a price on that. You are escaping the housework, the Mum duties, the washing, the everyday things that consume your time and brain space to indulge in something just for you. It’s not selfish- it’s healthy. Everyone needs grounding and a chance to refocus and a couple of hours every few weeks in a salon where the focus is solely on you is warranted. Don’t feel guilty for taking that time. 

While undertaking your “You time” you also get the added bonus of a confidante. What happens in the salon stays in the salon. You can vent about your boss, or how hubby hasn’t mowed the lawn in weeks or how your precious cherubs really are threatening to put mummy in a padded room and that is looking like a favorable option- we aren’t judgmental. We can offer input if you like, carry on the conversation or just listen while you have a cuppa but you get the security of knowing what you divulge doesn’t go any further. It’s all about client confidentiality and the “Vault experience”. That vault only opens in the salon when you want it to and it closes as soon as you leave. Kind of like confessional without the religion. But if you want to chat about religion that is fine too 😉

Then there is aftercare. Your nail service doesn’t end when you leave the nail room. You get provided with advice and suggestions on how to care for your nail enhancements and how to maintain them to get the best from them. I also make myself contactable if a client has a query or concern after hours and where possible try to answer all enquiries as soon as I get them if I’m not tied up kid wrangling myself.

Bottom line is you don’t just get nails when you pay for nails. You get a service that encompasses many components- not to mention all the products that are used to complete your service and available for you to choose from. There is a considerable outlay involved to have just the basic products needed as well as the equipment, rent, electricity, insurances and then the icing on top- the glitters!! Ongoing training and constant industry research to bring clients the latest products and techniques also take place behind the scenes when the salon doors are closed. The nail industry is evolving daily and that means we will never get bored!! 

When you consider all these factors those 10 little canvases on the ends of your fingers should be worth a fortune!! Look after them, look after you and understand the true value of the service you are provided with when you next step into a salon. Now is a 40c cone from McDonalds just a 40c cone?…..

Lou x

Nails 101

First we should start with some basic details- what is a nail?? A fingernail consists of several parts including the nail plate (the visible part of the nail), the nail bed (the skin beneath the nail plate), the cuticle (the tissue that overlaps the plate and rims the base of the nail), the nail folds (the skin folds that frame and support the nail on three sides), the lunula (the whitish half-moon at the base of the nail) and the matrix (the hidden part of the nail unit under the cuticle). A fingernail is produced by living skin cells in the finger and grow from the matrix. 

The nails are made up largely of keratin, a hardened protein (that is also in skin and hair). As new cells generate in the matrix, the older cells are pushed out, compacted and take on the familiar flattened, hardened form that we are familiar with as…. the fingernail!!

The average growth rate for nails is 0.1 mm each day (or 1 centimeter in 100 days). The exact rate of nail growth depends on several factors including the age and sex of the individual and seasonal influences too. Fingernails generally grow faster in young people, in males, and in the summer.

Fingernails grow faster than toenails. The fingernails on the right hand of a righthanded person grow faster than those on their left hand, and vice versa most likely due to added stimulation from constant regular use which encourages new cells to generate. 
So there my friends, is some basic biology behind the little canvases that I enjoy beautifying. Hopefully this enlightens you somewhat with info that may become useful at a trivia night, perhaps to win a pointless bet and be able to say “I told you so”, or just to satisfy a curiosity on what our nails actually are and how they are formed. 

Lou x

Pleased to meet you

I’m a mum to an almost 9 year old daughter that thinks she is going on 14 and a little boy about to turn 2 that has boundless amounts of energy and the most infectious belly laugh ever. I’m also a police wife, gardener, quilter, photographer, avid chick flick fan and have an appreciation for reality tv (don’t judge me for that 😉) and love lazy days at home watching the kids play in the yard chasing their own adventures.

We moved to a small country town a few months ago with my husband’s police transfer from the coastal paradise we had lived in for 4years. We no longer bat an eyelid when we see sheep in front gardens or wombats on the side of the road when we take the almost hour trip to the nearest shopping centre. Online shopping used to be a convenience but now is part of my daily life and the backbone of my business and how I access the majority of my supplies.

Embellished Nails began in a small room in our house that we affectionately named The Nail Nook and a steady client base has been built and next week I will be moving the business into a brand new salon in town. The salon is the dream of my lovely friend and fellow police wife, Sarah. As a fully qualified and experienced hairdresser, Sarah will be opening and running the salon herself and gave me the opportunity of sharing the space with her to indulge my clients as well.
Job satisfaction plays a huge part in my role as a nail technician. Along with client education, consistent service and a creative outlet the main focus of my business, job satisfaction always has to be the primary focus. The minute that focus is lost all the other elements start to suffer and it will be reflected in the service output. I’m a self confessed perfectionist and OCD in many ways which I use to my clients’ advantage. When clients leave completely satisfied and have had their expectations exceeded that gives me the satisfaction and drive to keep creating and increases the love I have for what I do. I don’t view my business as a job or going to work- I see it as sharing my love of nails with likeminded people and if that can make them feel better about themselves and improve their day then my mission is complete.

I’m now going to pack up The Nail Nook ready for a brand new beginning for Embellished Nails next Wednesday and see where that journey takes me. Stay tuned… 

Lou x