If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a chemist and a chemical engineer, Athens-based nail tech and chemical engineer Stella Sampson can enlighten you: “A chemist is responsible for the formulation of a chemical formula whereas a chemical engineer is responsible for the implementation of that formula into a final product on an industrial scale.” Got that?

Just 26 years old, Sampson has been working for a cosmetics company since early 2015, after studying chemical engineering at the National Technical University of Athens for five-and-a-half years. “I’m in charge of the chemistry lab. My main duty is quality control of raw materials and final products,” she says. “I feel very lucky that despite being so young I have been entrusted with such a responsible post. It is a beautiful thing to walk into the market and see people talking about and using products that have virtually passed through my hands before reaching them.”

Not long after she began working at the lab, Sampson earned her nail tech’s license. “A lot of people wondered why I decided to enroll in nail school when I already had a job in my field. In Greece we have a name for this; we call it meraki, which translates into something like passion,” she says.

“My work as a chemical engineer allows me to better understand certain things in my job as a nail technician and vice versa. I understand the reactions that occur between the different nail products from a chemical point of view, for example how UV light cures gel and how liquid and powder polymerize. I believe it’s important for nail techs to know about their chemicals because the better they understand how they react, the easier it is to achieve optimal results.”

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