The most challenging aspect of learning nails for students seems to be the theory. The practical aspects seem to be a little easier. I find that most of my students are visual learners, and when they see the demonstrations and replicate what they’ve been shown, they tend to do well. Some of the theoretical information will have to be experienced long after they have graduated and when they are actively working. At that time, they may recall the information and be able to apply it to the practical aspects of what we do.

  — Jessica Taylor, Honolulu Nail Academy, Honolulu

I think hard gel is the most challenging for my students. It's so hard to shift gears from patting and pulling to floating. To help our students, we start with using honey and a laminated sheet with markings of a nail outline. The students can practice pulling a perfect pearl, floating it, and keeping bubbles to a minimum. It's a great way to learn technique without wasting expensive hard gel. Once the student feels comfortable and can lay the gel in the lines on the laminated sheet, then we move on to a real nail. The honey helps a lot and is also sticky so they learn things can get messy quickly if they don't work in a clean and efficient manner.

  — Rachael Waggoner, Westland Beauty Academy, Lakewood, Colo.

I find acrylic wet-to-dry ratio to be the hardest for them to grasp. They have difficulty comprehending that different products set at different speeds and how the temperature can affect the cure time of their acrylic. To help them overcome this obstacle, we work in varying temperatures. I demo at least two different product lines, I encourage them to practice (as nothing I provide compares to their determination to succeed), and arrange “real world” scenarios to stimulate troubleshooting.

  — Heather McDaniel, Pensacola State College, Pensacola, Florida

I find my students do not quite grasp how to use the nail brush in their kits and the different types of acrylic products I demo. I always demo three types: One that I use for state board mock board, another acrylic line used on clients at school, and the acrylic they get in their kits. I demo free-formed sculptured nails the most because they are the hardest to learn; I've noticed the placement of the form itself is challenging for students. I help each student after I observe what he or she is doing wrong. Then I demo what they’re doing verses what I am teaching. Then I explain again after I demo.  I have them show me their steps and tell me why they took the steps they did in each process. Each line works very differently, and because we all work with our hands differently, it's essential to me as an instructor (with two licenses, 26 years in California) that I am able to understand the students. The students also help me understand their obstacles, which in turn helps me develop my skills as an instructor.

  — Juanita Garcia, Marinello Beauty College, Fresno, Calif.

It may seem simple but I find that a lot of people have never picked up a file in a professional capacity before. Anyone can shape the end of their nail, but learning to file in “3-D” to shape an acrylic or gel nail is way more difficult. Learning to hold a file is notoriously hard. But we work using colored eggs and file the color off, and we practice on every nail we can.

  — Bri McCloud, Sweetwater Institute of Cosmetology, Sweetwater, Tenn.

My observation is that in the theory portion of the course the students that speak English as a second language have a more difficult time with comprehension because they aren’t able to grasp the full spectrum of the topic. But if the instructor is observant of the reactions of these students, he or she can either make sure to articulate the subject matter more clearly and/or slow down when explaining that portion of the subject matter. It is imperative that the instructor understands the difficulties these students face in reaching an understanding of any subject that isn’t part of their indigenous language.

  — Jay Taylor, Theory Instructor Home-Study Program, Honolulu Nail Academy

As an educator, the most difficult thing for my students is refining the shape of the nail and not filing off the apex they tried so hard to create with the application of the product, and making sure the cuticle area is flush to the natural nail and the sidewalls are straight. I will drag a chair right over to their desk and sit right beside them and talk them through the whole process until they get it right. I will even sometimes go behind them and put my hands over theirs to show them how to file correctly. I do this repeatedly until I’m confident enough that they have learned the correct way to finish file the nails.

  — Charlotte Rauch,  Bed Rock Salon/Simplicity Nail System Ontario, Baden, Ontario, Canada

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