Is There a Generation Gap in the Nail Industry?

We asked nail techs from different beauty school classes – ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s – to talk a little about their age groups, and tell us what the cultural differences are between different generations of nail techs.

The ‘60s rock band The Who really struck a chord with their song, “My Generation.” NAILS seem to have similarly roused some strong emotions, when we posed the question, “Is there a generation gap in the nail industry?” We asked nail techs from different beauty school classes – ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s – to talk a little about their age groups, and tell us what the cultural differences are between different generations of nail techs.

1980s Grad

Joann Bloomfield, Nails by J.A.B., Chicago

I think the generations of young people who are coming out of nail tech school today have a misconception that doing nails is easy. In general, I feel they don’t understand it takes someone who is dedicated to the profession – not someone who’s just looking to make a quick dollar and buy beauty products cheaply. It also takes a person who understands cleanliness and disinfection.

In my observation, the nail techs of today’s generation just want to do art, gels, and maybe acrylics. The generation of today needs to understand that being a nail professional entails learning any and all there is to be your very best.

More recent generations of nail techs also need to know that continual education is a must if you want to see yourself grow and make more money. When I attended school (I graduated in 1988), my motto to myself was (and still is) to make money you have to spend money – including investing in yourself, your career, and in quality beauty products.

1990s Grad

Christina Gonzales, Tehachapi, Calif.

I don’t feel there are differences in generations, though now we have better technology and education that assists never technicians in learning the trade a little easier. Having discussed this with peers and mentors who have been in the industry many years longer than I have, I feel beauty schools haven’t changed much. I feel if you have dedication and focus your motivation towards continuing education, you have a better chance at succeeding in this industry.

Today, there are more products to choose from; plus, gels have evolved a lot, making them attractive to the tech and consumer. Better technology produces stronger and more durable, wearable nails, which make customers happy. This encourages nail techs to continue to improve their education to keep their customers happy and coming back.

Each person has a passion and drive of their own and sometimes they find it within this industry and sometimes don’t. If they do, they end up continuing their education and becoming successful in some part of the industry, just because of their passion alone.

2000s Grad

Laurel Oakeson, Color My Nails Salon, Salt Lake City

Today’s nail tech is not very different from a past generation nail tech. Today’s nail tech is required to have more formal, in-class training, but whether you’ve been doing nails for 15 years or for six months we all want to be the most effective and up-to-date nail tech we can be.

The motivation of today’s nail tech may need to be stronger, just because there is a definite time commitment that goes into becoming licensed. The industry is also growing very rapidly; every new nail tech must work hard to learn and stay up-to-date with changing trends, so she can build her clientele as quickly as she can.

Products have changed so drastically. Companies are always coming out with the newest and latest product, so there are bound to be people who like to work with what they are comfortable with and what works for them.

My education was really focused on making me the most all-around competent nail tech I could be. I feel I left school totally confident in my ability to work in the real world and build a clientele.

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