Nails 101: A Student Blog

First Week of School

by NAILS Magazine | October 25, 2010

Walking in the doors of the beauty college as a student for the first time in nearly seven years was so odd. It smelled the same, it looked basically the same and the girls were exactly how I remembered them: dressed well with perfect make-up and hair, slightly snobby and completive but willing to make friends with you at the same time. The biggest difference is that we students are now required to dress all in black with the same black smocks over our clothes. When I walked these halls the last time, our clothes were required to be white. Black is so much easier!


On day one we immediately jumped into anatomy and procedures. Off the bat by the end of the day I knew how to do a basic manicure — complete with a massage and all sanitation protocols. It was a lot of fun. It was fairly easy to get back into the routine, not too much had changed at all. The hard part was going to the salon to see my clients after spending a full day (8:15 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.) at school. I got home about 8 p.m.


Days two and three were just as information-packed. We learned how to work with acrylic. California’s state board requires that during the practical exam for manicurists we must use odorless acrylic. It does not function the same way as regular acrylic. Our instructor wanted us to learn how to use both and wants us to be proficient at using both so we have no issue when we take our state board exam. She doesn’t care if we never use odorless acrylic again in our lives (which I won’t because it takes about 10 minutes to dry and in the process it turns yellow!) as long as we are comfortable enough to be able to do sculpted and tip-with-overlay acrylics for our practical exam.


In these days I also learned how to do a hot oil manicure using heated lotion. I loved this manicure. The really great part was that I already have the heater that you would use for this service because I use the same heater to heat massage lotion for my clients in the winter. It’s a great manicure service for anyone suffering from dry, brittle nails and dry, damaged cuticles. I am definitely treating myself to one of these this weekend. My first pedicure was done on a cosmetology student, and I really enjoyed giving this service as well. The massage parts are super easy for me and I had them committed to memory in no time. The toughest parts were remembering to close the caps to all the products I used after I used them and to make sure the nail clippers and nail nippers are closed after I use them too. All of these are steps they will look for when I go to take my boards.


Friday (my day four) was spent doing tips all day. We learned how to do silk wraps and spent the morning practicing that to perfection. The lady who owns the salon where I work has already promised that I can do a full silk set on her once I am released to the floor at school. (I should be able to work on paying clients at the school starting Saturday, October 30th as long as I past the written “freshman” exam.) The silks are beautiful and look so natural. After lunch we worked on sculptured nails and acrylic overlays with tips. It was really fun and I got better and better as the day went on, but I couldn’t wait to get to do something else. I had two massages to do when I got out of school and despite the fact that I was going to have to work late, I was looking forward to a change of pace.


Saturday was spent learning to do paraffin dip manicures and pedicures. For sanitation reasons we no longer have clients dip their hands and feet into the paraffin wax heater. We are required to take a plastic bag and make a “well” with it at our station. Then we place the client’s hand in to the bag and pour the paraffin over her hand using a disposable cup. Then we work the wax around her hand, seal the bag and insert it into a warming mitt. If we are doing feet, we would place the bag on a towel next to the client’s foot on the floor, make the well and go from there. We spent the afternoon trading services with each other. There are five girls in my class, but we made it work. Each one of us got to experience for ourselves a service that we had learned earlier in the week.


I was exhausted Saturday night. My brain was in overload but I was so happy. I can’t wait to be doing these services on my clients. I went by the beauty supply store and splurged on a few things to practice with over the weekend. We got a lot of great stuff in our kits, but there were a few other things that I wanted to have. This next week I get to do an acrylic set on a model. My friend April, who is a hairstylist at the salon where I work, is coming over to the school to let me practice on her. She went to the same school and is excited that she gets to spend the afternoon with me. Our instructor has warned us it might take up to three hours to do our first set. I can’t wait!


This is one of the many acrylic with tips that I did this past week.


This picture shows the stages of my silk wraps. The far right nail is before I cut the silk off,
the center is done with filing and ready for polish, and the painted nail is a finished silk nail with tip.


Here are some of the sculpted nails that I worked on during Friday’s classes.


— Karyn

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