NAILS NTNA is hardly Tracey Lee’s first nail competition. She has participated in Nailympia Australia, Pro Beauty North, Pro Beauty South Africa, and Nails Mastered. Her editorial hand poses and thoroughly thought out concepts are what she is most known for and why she teaches many classes, including a nail photo workshop. Lee’s legacy is one of creating, educating, and sharing.

Lee shared her rise to the top with “partners in crime” Liina Leino and Jonny Pham. Finland’s Leino was named second runner-up and Australia’s Pham was named first runner-up. “The different personalities just complemented each other and together we felt like we could handle just about everything that was thrown our way,” Lee said of her fellow finalists.

The Top 3 had plenty of time to bond. They got to know one another virtually since the beginning of the competition in May 2016. As they all moved their way up into the Top 12, the bond became even stronger. Once in Chicago, they each completed a NAILS cover, a live Q&A on the show floor at CND’s booth, and attended a brunch with CND’s Jan Arnold, Season 3 champion Winnie Huang, and NAILS executive editor Beth Livesay. All of these events took place before the winner was announced at ROOF on theWit on March 25. Judges from Season 4, industry all-stars, NTNA sponsors, the NAILS team, and members of Modern Salon magazine attended the party to hear the big reveal. Lee gave a moving acceptance speech saying that her rise to the Top 3 was “surreal” and that she was rendered “speechless” by the experience. When Lee found the right words they were of course humorous. “There’s a layer of dust over my entire house,” she told the crowd. Now that the challenges are over, Lee is committed to taking care of her household. While working on the competition, Lee acknowledged the sacrifices that were made by her husband, Maurice, and their children. “All the NTNA husbands deserve a trophy too,” she said.

After an emotional Saturday night, the Top 3 were back at it. Lee, Liino, and Pham walked the America’s Beauty Show floor on Sunday before representing the nail industry, CND, and NAILS Magazine at the Beauty Changes Lives Experience at the Art Institute of Chicago. All three were named NextGen artists and brought their final sets of nails to be placed on a model who then walked a runway.

The set worn at the Beauty Changes Lives Experience was the sixth and final set of the season. The Top 3 completed five sets of nails under the theme Manus x Machina for CND’s multi-part final challenge. They submitted photos and tutorials for a set every two weeks up until traveling to Chicago. Just when they thought their task was complete, they were thrown one final twist. Head judge Jan Arnold asked them to redo one of their five previous sets. The redone set would be the one worn by a model at the Art Institute. Two of their other previous sets were on display at the NAILS booth on the show floor.

While the excitement and hard work are over, Lee’s job as NTNA Season 4 champion has just begun. She will serve as a judge in the Season 5 competition, fly to New York City to work in the CND Design Lab for Fashion Week, get a feature in Modern Salon Magazine, and act as NAILS’ newest guest editor. NAILS, CND, and our Season 4 sponsors Akzentz, American Dawn, Artistic, Bio Seaweed Gel, EzFlow, Gelish, Gel II, ibd, INM, Minx, Morgan Taylor, and Orly congratulate Lee on her well-deserved win.

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