International Nail Techs

Call them ongles or uñas, nägel or negle, they’re still nails and they deserve the attention of a skilled professional — no matter where you live. These international techs share what life is like in the nail industry in their slice of the world.



Ettennae Perez-Vargas
Star Nails
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Native Language: Spanish
Time in Profession: 2 years
Is licensing required? Only a nail school diploma is required.
What was your training? At the Instituto de Banca y Comercio. I took classes on manicures, pedicures, application, design, anatomy, and microbiology. The learning process is eight months, of which the last two months are in-class practice.
Nail technicians are called... técnicas or técnicas de uñas.
“Nails” are... uñas.


Most salons are... Most salons are full-service but the nail industry is growing so fast that we almost have an equal number of nails-only salons in Puerto Rico.
The most popular nail style is... long, square pink-and-white nails, or really short nails with one color of nail polish. There is always a group of women who love the very elaborate nails but usually it’s one or two per week in our business.
The most popular services are... acrylics and pedicures. Shellac is also now entering the nails industry here.
What are your specialties? My favorite type of nail style is pink-and-white nails with a design composed of lines and dots. Also, 3-D flowers and pink-and-glitter nails.
What are your clients like? The nail industry in Puerto Rico is very broad. I could be doing nails for a teenager from the school across the street and my next client could be a lawyer or an English-speaking woman on vacation.
Appointments or walk-ins? We mostly work with appointments but are always open for walk-ins.
Well-known brands? Shellac, OPI, Attraction, All Season, essie, and our own Puerto Rican nail polish brand, Bettina.
Are there any major trade shows in your country? The San Juan Beauty Show and the Barbers and Beauty Show.
What are your best educational resources?  Mostly from the Internet where more experienced nail techs post their work and tutorials. Also from the seminars that more experienced nail techs offer at a fee.

Claire Coulon
Miami Nails
Igny, France

Native Language: French
Time in Profession: 4 years
Is licensing required? Licensing isn’t required in France. Nail technician is not considered a “real” job here, but things are changing. Some professionals are trying to create a kind of license to regulate the business and to avoid safety and health issues.
What was your training? I went to the Beauty School of America in Miami because I did not trust the nail schools in France and I wanted a real license.
Nail technicians are called... prothesistes ongulaires or stylistes ongulaires.
“Nails” are... ongles.


Most salons are... Some are only dedicated to nails but it’s a new trend. Most are also doing skin care, massages, and hair removal.
The most popular nail style is... People are very classic in France. They like French manicures or regular polish, but some are more adventurous and like designs. But not a lot, unfortunately.
The most popular services are... French manicures with acrylics or gels and natural manicures, though Shellac and other gel polishes are starting to pick up.
What are your specialties? I like to do designs with colored acrylics, glitters, or paint.
What are your clients like? I have all types, ranging from students to retired people and from all social backgrounds. But since products are more expensive in France due to high taxes, getting your nails done is not something everybody does. It has its cost.
Appointments or walk-ins? It’s mostly appointments but some accept walk-ins. I would say those that take walk-ins are non-standard salons with lower prices. That’s how they fill the books.
Well-known brands? OPI, Peggy Sage, CND, and Essie.
Are there any major trade shows in your country? The beauty trade shows here are not great on nails but are becoming a bit more interesting. I haven’t been able to visit any big international shows.
What are your best educational resources?  Professional magazines and the Internet.   

Next page: Slovenia, Portugal, and Australia


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