Although she began her nail career in Quebec, nail tech Catherine Côté has established a business in her adopted home of Iceland since moving there four years ago. She provides nail art from a cozy nail room in her apartment and her work has become so popular that she rarely has time to take on new clients. She tells us about what life is like as a nail tech on a beautiful, remote Nordic island.

What kind of nail designs and services are most popular in Iceland?

Côté: Icelandic people wear a lot of black and their style is quite minimal and fashionable, like many other Scandinavian countries. I would say black is probably the color I use the most, along with other neutral colors like nudes and grays, though reds are popular too. I sometimes do bright colors (mostly for clients going on a sunny vacation), and of course glitters during the holidays or as an accent nail. Viking runes and graphic styles are also popular here. I used to do a lot more hand-painted cartoon designs or bling nails, but I think people here are going for something simpler these days. I rarely do traditional polish manicures; my clients mostly ask for gel extensions or gel-polish. This year, my clients and I have been going crazy for chrome pigments, mylar foil nails (glass nails), and Vetro USA glitter foil colors.

What’s different about doing nails in Iceland?

Côté: Here in Reykjavík there is not as much competition compared to other big cities in other countries. There aren’t walk-in nail salons on every other corner, so people here have to plan their appointments ahead more. People here never complain to me about prices, which is nice, because I remember when I used to work in Canada, people always tried to get discounts and could be difficult to deal with. Orders, shipping, customs, and duty are the main problems. It’s expensive to have everything shipped to Iceland, and with all the taxes and fees, we have to pay about 40% more for supplies.

Catherine Côté works from her apartment's nail room.

Catherine Côté works from her apartment's nail room.

How do you get ideas and keep up your skills?

Côté: Options are quite limited here for advanced training, and the brands I like to work with are unfortunately not sold in Iceland. I need to import all products myself to the country. To keep up with the trends, the internet is a wonderful place with online classes and great ideas. Of course, nothing is as great as hands-on training with a certified instructor, but I love to travel so it’s not that much of a problem. It’s also nice to share inspiration and tips with other nail artists from different parts of the globe. I am a nail nerd too, so I love to follow other nail artists online and find the new trends, products, and techniques.

Are there any trends or changes that you wish would make it to Iceland?

Côté: I would love to do longer nails more often! People usually opt for shorter, more practical nails, but sometimes colors or designs pop even more on sharp, longer nails. People are quite open with nail shapes, so it’s fun to change them every now and then. For everything else, I think people are curious and interested to know what’s out there, so I will keep doing my best to keep up with the latest trends and bring them here. 


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