Competition-level nails take practice, but mastering certain skills will get you in the game.
With the recent nail competitions at Premier in Orlando, Fla., and IBS Las Vegas, it became apparent that competitive nail techs from around the world are continuing to sharpen their skills and push the limits of nail creativity. But what separates a competition tech from a salon tech? Really, not as much as you think. Lynn Lammers, owner of Mantonne Beach Salon in Redlands, Calif., highlights some of the techniques she put to use during her latest competition in Las Vegas, and explains how she cultivated her skills to where they are today.
Lammers sketched her black-and-white acrylic nails before she applied them at the competition in Orlando, Fla.
“Doing competition-level nails takes practice — lots of practice. There are a number of different skills you need to develop to make yourself a strong competitor, and getting into a routine of practicing them is essential if you want to get better.
Lammers will warm up for acrylic competitions by putting acrylic on forms. “It helps me get a feel for the environment in the competition area,” she says. “If it is too cold or too warm, the product will react differently, so I want to know that before I start on the first nail.”
I have recently been hiring hand models to practice on, because it’s great for me to practice on a real nail to simulate the competition environment. For acrylics though, an easy way to get started is to just practice putting acrylic on forms. For pink-and-white competitions, judges are looking immediately at smile lines. So to help get your smile lines crisp and smooth, start by placing beads on a regular sculpting form and smoothing out your smile lines.
“When you sculpt with acrylic,” Lammers says, “remember that it’s dimensional. It has bulk to it. So you have to make sure you keep it within the shape of the overall nail, and keep it very thin. The surface of the nail should be perfectly smooth and flat. Work with really tiny beads of acrylic, and spread them out as much as you can to keep everything nice and thin.”
It will help you get a feel for the acrylic, which is the most important thing for competitions. When you compete, you can end up filing out a bunch of mistakes you made simply because you didn’t know how the acrylic was going to flow on the nail.