Portugal-based nail tech Monica Russo has a special place in her heart for holiday-specific nail designs. She was profiled in our sister publication, Nail Art Gallery Magazine ( for her St. Patrick’s Day work and she continues to push out interesting and intricate works of art year-round. This nail tech of six years shares some of her favorite Valentine’s Day designs and describes how a bottle of blue metallic polish changed her life.

NAILS: How did you get your start doing nails?
MR: At the age of 14 I used to bite my nails, then one day I bought a metallic blue nail polish and applied it. I loved the color so much that I just stopped biting my nails. Then I started my nail polish collection, then I began going to salons. After trying three different nail technicians, none of them was able to do the nail art I loved, so I went to nail school.

NAILS: What are your favorite nail art techniques?
MR: I love free-hand nail art mostly: 3-D effects, gradients, reptile and animal prints, foils, crystals, mylars, etc. I don’t use many stickers and decals, but I do use stamping sometimes when I’m in a hurry.

NAILS: What are the nail trends in Portugal?
MR: The most fashionable trends at the moment are chrome pigments, foils, and sand. Unicorn holographic powder is making every single nail technician crazy right now, as it has gorgeous effects. I follow nail technicians worldwide from the U.S. to Russia, as new trends always start somewhere. It’s important to be the first one getting these to my clients.

NAILS: What’s your advice to artists looking to do better nail art?
MR: There are many ways to learn for free. Courses are important and if you can pay for them then don’t hesitate for a second. Sometimes I hear nail technicians saying things like, ‘I could never do that, I’m not able to.’ How is that possible for you to know if you don’t put all your heart into it and try? Just get yourself the materials and try, and if you do it wrong, then do it again and make it right. You’ll be surprised to see how good you can be even if you learn just from a YouTube video.

Follow Russo at for nail art tutorials. Message her at for technique-related questions.


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