Chelsea King

Chelsea King

Label Me Lindsay Studio, Los Alamitos, Calif.

Blogging since: 2011

Chelsea King started her nail art blog during her senior year of high school. After getting laid off from her desk job she knew it was the perfect opportunity to attend nail school. King is ­especially inspired by fashion to create her original nail designs.

Blog mission: I don’t believe in posting and blogging without sharing the tricks of the trade. It’s important to share what tools you use and how to do the design.

Favorite nail trend and medium: My favorite nail trend would have to be geometric designs. I love really detailed and precise nail art. My favorite medium to work in is nail polish, but gel is beginning to grow on me.

What are the benefits to having a license as opposed to just doing nails for fun? ­Having a license opens up so many more doors than just doing it for fun. ­Obviously, having your license allows you to make money, which is a huge ­benefit. As much as I love being creative on myself doing nails for fun, it’s great to be able to spread my talent onto other people’s nails.

What is the most valuable thing you learned in nail school? The most valuable thing I learned in nail school was definitely about sanitation and the importance of properly cleaned implements. My focus was previously just on nail art, whereas now my focus is on the experience from beginning to end. Having the client feel confident in knowing they are getting top-of-the-line, clean tools, a great manicure, and fun nail art on top of it all.

How has getting licensed changed your life and your blog? My goal after getting my license was to find representation to do freelance work. I love the variety. One day you can be doing nails for an ad campaign, and the next you’re working on the red carpet with celebrities. Besides working with an agency, I do have an appointment only space in a hair and makeup studio! As for my blog, getting my license hasn’t changed anything. As much as I love doing nails for other people, I still love posting online and educating others.

Blogroll: Chalkboard Nails, Astrowifey, Stephanie Stone, The Illustrated Nail, and Nail Swag.

Sarah Kane

Sarah Kane

Sugarcoat Nails, Austin, Texas

Blogging since: 2012

Just because she has a journalism degree and writes for other websites didn’t mean blogging came naturally to Sarah Kane. It wasn’t until a friend coaxed her into blogging a year ago that ATX Lacquerista was founded. When a photographer approached Kane after recognizing her nails it all became clear. “She was like, ‘Are you ATX ­Lacquerista?’ I swear, I almost passed out, that was one of the best moments of my life. At that point, I knew that nails were what I was meant to do. My only New Year’s resolution for 2013 was to get my manicurist license.”

Blog mission: I treat my blog like the zines I made in middle school. It’s a visual representation of things that my hands have created. It’s uniquely mine, and not anyone else’s.

Favorite nail trend and medium: I love glitter and all 3-D embellishments. My favorite medium is gel-polish. It’s amazing how long my manicures can last, especially ­considering how much acetone I handle. I’ve recently spent a lot of time creating nail art with acrylic paint.

What are the benefits to having a license as opposed to just doing nails for fun? Well, for starters, having a license means that you’re legally allowed to touch people on their hands and feet, and you can actually get a job in a salon (at least, in the U.S.). I have  a lot more knowledge about nails in general, like what chemicals make up nail polish, the difference between the cuticle and the eponychium, how to build an acrylic nail, when to deny someone a service, etc. Having a license makes me legitimate. Plus, it’s really nice being able to go to those “license only” beauty supply stores to stock up on polish.

What is the most valuable thing you learned in nail school? When I first started school, I had to reteach myself most of my previously mastered techniques, because giving a manicure to a client is a lot different than doing my own nails. Every nail bed is different, so you have to cater to every client’s specific needs. I also got over my fear of feet, and now, I love giving pedicures.

How has getting licensed changed your life and your blog? I just started working at Sugarcoat Nails in Austin, Texas. The owners reached out to me on Instagram, and gave me the opportunity to intern while I was still in school. It was a great experience, and made getting through beauty school a lot easier. Getting my license has changed every aspect of my entire life. I get paid to do what I love, and I get to meet awesome people (both in Austin and online), and I get to express myself creatively. I still kind of can’t believe this all happened.

Blogroll: Chelsea Queen, The Illustrated Nail, Supa Nails, Nailside, Chalkboard Nails, Algae Veronica, Let Them Have Polish, Prima Creative, The Nailasaurus, and Work/Play/Polish.



Katy Parsons

Katy Parsons

Boulder, Colo.

Blogging since: 2011

After coming across the blogs of other nail artists, Katy Parsons was hooked. She wanted to combine artistic flair, writing, and creating to share the art form she loved. For her the transition from just blogging to being a professional was simple: “Interacting with people + making them happy + doing something I absolutely love = a career! And it’s generally frowned upon to charge people for a service you’re not licensed in.” While you will see posts on Nailed It about swatches and reviews, every one of those comes with a nail art look to accompany it.

Blog mission: Inspiring readers with one-of-a-kind nail looks.

Favorite nail trend and medium? Freehand nail art is definitely my favorite trend. Working with the gorgeous lacquers and 3-D elements to make a fabulous full set of nails will always be special to me. That’s what Nailed It was built on.

 What are the benefits to having a license as opposed to just doing nails for fun? Earning your license means going through classes that teach you the ins and outs of all things nails. It’s not just about passing a test. It’s about practicing techniques on real clients with the support of real technicians. Our instructors give us insights into aspects of nail technology outside of what you can read about. The real experiences I’m getting now are what are going to make me an excellent nail tech in the future. Starting as a nail hobbiest has really helped keep my interest in nail technology high though. Going through nine months of school doing something your heart isn’t fully invested in would be grueling otherwise.

 What is the most valuable thing you learned in nail school? What’s invaluable to me are the difficult, client-facing interactions. In school, I have the support of my instructors to know how to handle a difficult situation. You can read about those, but until you see it firsthand, it’s not as valuable.

How has getting licensed changed your life and your blog? Working toward a license and continuing a full-time job eats up plenty of hours in the day, so my blog posts have become more infrequent. However, I’ve been filling those voids with posts of my experience in school, which helps people understand why I’m not around, and really seems to be popular among my readers.

Blogroll: The Nailasaurus, Chalkboard Nails, One Nail to Rule Them All, FingerPainted, Hey Nice Nails, Disco Nail, Nancy MC Nails, Supa Nails, The Illustrated Nail, So So Fly Nails, and Nail Swag.


Ashley Crowe

Ashley Crowe

Astrowifey, Chicago

Blogging since: 2008

Back in 2008 not many people were in to nail art so Ashley Crowe started a blog to showcase her latest nail designs. “I tribute my interest in nail art to a group of ladies in L.A. who called themselves the Brown Babies. They were fashion bloggers who had long square acrylic nails with everything from diamonds, swirls, line work, airbrushing, and flags.” When girls in Chicago started freaking out over Crowe’s nails she began directing them to her blog and gaining ­popularity. “I didn’t think of nails as a career until I came across Sophy Robson’s work. I saw how she was making a career from it and prior to that I had this perception that I would have to work long hours in a salon and that is as
far as it would go. I had no idea that there could be travel, ­product development, museum, event, and commercial ­opportunities. The sky is really the limit! I started to dream big and the rest was history.”

Blog mission: To stay connected to both the nail art and ­professional community.

Favorite nail trend and medium: I love working with acrylic paint and Shellac because I can get really detailed and it’s easy to mix colors. My favorite nail trends are the triangle manicure and holographic nail polish. The triangle manicure is where the triangle forms at the cuticle and extends to the tip of the nail, it elongates the nail and catches attention. It’s also a relatively easy design so it’s great for beginners.

What are the benefits to having a license as opposed to just doing nails for fun? Having an education in nails opens up a whole new world of opportunities. When you’re certified you will be viewed as a professional. You have to think about your clients too, you want to be properly educated to give them the best quality experience.

What is the most valuable thing you learned in nail school? Proper sanitation, which I think is extremely important for your clients’ safety. I was already dabbling in nails and did a ton of research for years before I started classes so I was already prepped for school, but sanitation is something that I strongly believe in and learned more in depth when starting classes.

How has getting licensed changed your life and your blog? ­Getting licensed has changed both my blog and life because I am now viewed as a professional and therefore I am blessed to get opportunities as both a nail artist and as a nail professional. Professional companies send me products to test and critique and I also get to work with professional companies like CND, Essie, Gelish, and many more for events.   

Blogroll: Nail Swag, Madeline Poole, NailGurl NYC, Nailing Hollywood, FingernailFixer, Sam Biddle, and Confessions of a Nail Tech.



Amber Dunson

Amber Dunson

Destiny Day Spa, Bossier City, La.

Blogging since: 2011

Former nail biter Amber Dunson started stocking up on polish after her nails grew. “I became obsessed with looking up nail polish swatches and trying all of the awesome nail art techniques out there. One thing led to another and was born.” Since starting her blog Dunson has built a clientele and honed her skills. Her goals are now to attend a show and compete in her first nail art competition. While you can catch a lot of the popular designs on Dunson’s blog (she posts twice a week), her detailed, fine art is what she believes sets her apart.

Blog mission: I’d really like to evolve on a more professional level and use the blog to help gain more local readership and clients.  

Favorite nail trend and medium: Gradient is by far my favorite trend, but I also love doing freehand nail art. My favorite mediums are acrylic paint and nail polish. Using acrylic paint just helps me to create a more detailed design without worrying about the polish getting gloopy or drying out.  

What are the benefits to having a license as opposed to just doing nails for fun? It makes me happy to see a client admiring my work on their nails and knowing she feels beautiful because of me. Getting paid to do what I love just sweetens the deal. 

What is the most valuable thing you learned in nail school? How to do a proper manicure and pedicure. Learning that there was more to healthy nail care than just painting nails and doing nail art is definitely what took me from being a hobbyist to a professional nail technician.  

How has getting licensed changed your life and your blog? I absolutely love my job; I really feel like it’s where I’m supposed to be. I was a stay-at-home mom for the last 10 years so my life has definitely changed a lot in the last year. I have met a lot of great people at school and at my job. I still blog as much as I can but I don’t have quite as much time as I used to. I like to think that even though I may not get to post as much the quality of my work is much higher than before. Blogging was a stepping stone for me to get to this career. I really owe my love for nails to the amazing nail bloggers I follow.   

Blogroll: FingerPainted, The Lacquerologist, Chelsea King, Let Them Have Polish,
Adventures in Acetone, Confessions of a Sarcastic Mom, Peace, Love and Polish, Gnarly Nails, The Nailasaurus, Chalkboard Nails…I seriously could go on and on because there are so many awesome nail bloggers.


Megan McManus

Megan McManus

Completely Polished, Cranberry, Pa.

Blogging since: 2010

Megan McManus started her blog because she had been out of the industry for a while (she was working as a marine biologist) and knew she wanted to come back. Blogging seemed like the perfect way to get some practice and build a following. “Most of my blog posts consist of either sculpted hard gel nails or gel manicures. I don’t do much with traditional polish anymore,” says McManus. “I try to post every two to three days, but that doesn’t always happen.”

Blog mission: To spread the nail love.

Favorite nail trend and medium: Embedding glitter into gel. I love how clean and sparkly it is.

What are the benefits to having a license as opposed to just doing nails for fun? Who can resist being able to get quality products? I would pretty much go crazy without CosmoProf and many professional accounts with nail companies.

What’s the most valuable thing you learned in nail school? Besides sanitation, I believe the most important thing I learned was customer relations. I learned how to carry myself and also how to communicate with my clients.

How has getting licensed changed your life and your blog? I’d say it actually has increased my blogging, though I find that I have more pictures and less spare time to write the actual blogs. 

Blogroll: Maggie Rants and Raves, It’s All About Nails, The Nailasaurus, and One Nail To Rule Them All.



Lydia Crowder

Lydia Crowder

Bella Salon, Belgrade, Mont.

Blogging since: 2012

While looking for other blogs to get reviews on products and colors, it occurred to Lydia Crowder that she could do it too. She set out to create her own site and gained popularity after being featured on OPI’s Facebook page. “I saw that a lot of the shares of my work were from nail salons and I started thinking of getting licensed. My husband and friends were so supportive and really encouraged me to go for it.” Crowder describes her site as a mix of swatches and nail art. She tries to do tutorials for each nail art post and strives to keep up on the trends. It’s Crowder’s goal to think outside the box when it comes to nail designs and post at least once a week.

Blog mission: I want to work more on tutorials and simple nail art that anyone can do at home with a salon-quality result.

Favorite nail trend and medium: I love when you have a manicure with a few solid color nails, then one nail accented with glitter, and then a nail or two with some fun nail art. I think multiple accent nails are beautiful and it’s a fun way to show your personality without being too over the top. My favorite medium is gel. It looks very natural, and you can do some amazing layering with it.

What are the benefits to having a license as opposed to just doing nails for fun? When you are licensed you get to work with all sorts of clientele that come to you with a vision you get to turn into reality. I love seeing the transformation for my clients when we go from short bitten nails to nice smooth nail enhancements. The look on your client’s face when she walks out the door with beautiful nails is priceless.

What is the most valuable thing you learned in nail school? Practice, practice, practice — and don’t compare yourself to others. Do the best you can and be proud of your work. You will only get faster and better with the more you do.

How has getting licensed changed your life and your blog? Getting my license has changed my life so much. I look forward to going to work. I have flexible hours and I get to build relationships with my clients. My husband and I were just talking about how my job is my dream job. I get to work when I want, sit at my nail table, and be creative all day. I still get to blog but with a different perspective. I feel I have more to offer my readers from a professional standpoint and give them tips and tricks on how to get the best results. I think more and more bloggers will realize they can make a living doing nails. They can bring their experience and creativity to the professional scene and push those who are more traditional into thinking outside the box. We need more nail bloggers in the field.

Blogroll: Chalkboard Nails, The Nailasaurus, Wacky Laki, and Lucy’s Stash.



Shameka Clarke

Shameka Clarke

Home-based salon, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Blogging since: 2012

After completing a 31-day nail art challenge and posting the results on her knitting blog, Shameka Clarke’s followers wanted to see more. Clarke soon realized her nail polish addiction would need a platform of its own. “I wanted to highlight my geographic location, because I saw so many different types of nail art globally,” says Clarke. After noticing a nail infection on her mom’s hand that resulted from an unsanitary salon visit she told her mom, “I’m going to learn the correct way to do this, and you won’t ever have to go to that salon again.” In addition to nails, Clarke also talks about hair care, makeup, and bargain hunting. She posts one to two times a week.

Blog mission: To give women inspiration to think outside the box and try a color or nail design that is brand new to them. I also hope to inspire them to reach for their dreams and go after their passion in life. 

Favorite nail trend and medium: My favorite nail trend is the ombré nail. I love that you can create it with polish, paint, gel, acrylic, or glitter. The look is very versatile based on the color scheme, and you can use it as a base for hand-painted designs, which adds more depth. My favorite medium is gel and gel-polish.

What are the benefits to having a license as opposed to just doing nails for fun? Having a license allows you to gain firsthand access to new products in the industry as soon as they come to market. The quality of products that you can purchase directly from the distributor is of a higher caliber. Secondly, you have access to new techniques and get first-hand training from professionals who have been in the industry for many years. The individual companies have in-depth training programs that only licensed professionals can take advantage of. That is priceless knowledge.

What is the most valuable thing you learned in nail school? Proper sanitation procedures. I have seen so many salons fall short of the guidelines and procedures that are written in the textbook. Client safety should always come first. 

How has getting licensed changed your life and your blog? I have the opportunity to travel more, make new friends, and make women smile and feel beautiful.

Blogroll: Julep Beauty Buzz, Bio Sculpture Gel’s blog, Craftynail, The Nailasaurus, and Polish and Pearls.



Stephanie Looker

Stephanie Looker

Portsmouth, U.K.

Blogging since: 2013

A New Year’s resolution to document nail designs and products led to Stephanie Looker developing her blog. “It had never occurred to me to get licensed to do nails, it was just a hobby. It wasn’t until I started my job in a beauty department that my colleagues noticed my passion for nails and put me forward for a course.” The financial and moral support provided by Looker’s coworkers proved invaluable when she finally received her manicurist diploma in February 2013. What a Looker focuses on the journey of nail art rather than the finished product. Looker enjoys comparing beauty products on her blog as well to see if more money equals a better product.

Blog mission: I want to be responsible for the majority of nail art worn in my local town. It’s a small quiet town where nail art has not really taken off.

Favorite nail trend and medium: I love working with patterns that are popular on the high street such as tartan and houndstooth. I only like creating designs with my hands so I don’t use UV lamps or gel. I use nail pens and brushes to create freehand art and will occasionally use stampers, although I feel like I’m slightly cheating when I do. I also really love textures — glitter, velvet, matte, feathers, or anything I think will look original on a nail.

What are the benefits to having a license as opposed to just doing nails for fun? I can help people understand how to care for their nails. With a license, you can freely try more designs on people as well as take in ideas from them too. I love pushing people to use their nails as an accessory. I believe a fun and creative manicure can turn heads just as well as a new outfit, if not more, as it is a piece of art to talk about and exhibit.

What is the most valuable thing you learned in nail school? The most valuable thing for me was how to keep your nails in good condition. Even the best manicure will look bad if your nails are unhealthy. I really enjoyed the science surrounding nails and find it so much easier to diagnose a solution to a problem now that I know how a nail functions.

How has getting licensed changed your life and your blog? I do manicures and advise customers as to what nail treatments they should be using to help them get the best results from their nails. My blog has helped me with my confidence and given me the desire to experiment more with a variety of nail designs and projects.

Blogroll: The Nailasaurus, Chalkboard Nails, One Nail to Rule Them All, Brit Nails, Lucy’s Stash, and Sincerely Stephanie.


For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.

Read more about