Now in its third season, NAILS Magazine’s Next Top Nail Artist is gaining serious traction as the premiere competition within the nail industry. Contestants undergo a rigorous screening process where every brush stroke is scrutinized. After carefully evaluating hundreds of intricate hand-painted looks, sculpted acrylics, brushed on gels, and an array of mixed-media, 12 contestants remain standing.


Who will be NAILS Next Top Nail Artist?

Each week starting in September 2015, we’ll give the remaining finalists a new challenge to showcase their skills in a variety of ways. They’ll be creating awe-inspiring nail art looks based on a series of themed challenges created by the editors at NAILS and each of our weekly sponsors (Akzentz, Bio Seaweed Gel, China Glaze, CND, Dashing Diva, Entity, EzFlow, Gel II, Gelish, INM, and Orly). In addition to creating their nail art masterpieces, the competitors will be shooting step-by-step tutorials, video demos, and sharing their entries via social media.


Every Friday one contestant will be eliminated. Every Tuesday, we’ll post the next challenge on our site. The judges — AND YOU — will have three days to vote for your favorite contestants. Make sure your Next Top Nail Artist doesn’t get eliminated. Vote and spread the word to your friends.


The final three contestants will be flown to ABS Chicago 2016 for the official crowning of NAILS Next Top Nail Artist. In addition, they’ll also receive cash and product prizes, the opportunity to work for a major nail manufacturer and with the NAILS editorial team.


Head Judge: Jan Nordstrom Arnold, CND


Combining business savvy with vibrant charisma, Jan Arnold, the co-founder of internationally successful CND has been leading the nail industry with innovation and style for over 30 years. Since the company’s incorporation in 1979, Jan has become one of the professional beauty industry’s most respected authorities in the fields of nail technology, runway trends, and education, as well as a recognized spokesperson for the industry. Jan’s vision of nails as fashion accessories has translated to the runways. Seasonally since 1996, CND’s top nail pros have manicured runway models and started trends during Fashion Weeks in New York, London, Paris, and Sydney. As a result, Jan is an editorial favorite and is regularly quoted in top consumer publications such as GlamourElle, and Allure, explaining nail trend forecasts or benefits of proper nail care.


Head Judge: Erika Kotite, NAILS Magazine


In May 2015, Erika Kotite returned to Bobit Business Media after 17 years to head the Beauty Group as editor of NAILS, VietSALON, Nail Art Gallery Magazine, and nailsmag.com. Erika’s long editorial background in beauty, design, small business, and lifestyle has given her a sharp eye for creativity and detail.  Previously executive editor for NAILS in the late 90s, Erika moved into the consumer magazine realm as editor-in-chief of Romantic Homes and Victorian Homes magazines. She eventually branched into both digital and custom media, with stints as content director at a major closet design company and digital community specialist at a global health and nutrition company. A food and drink enthusiast, Erika also launched her own magazine-style food blog and founded the first app awards exclusively for food and drink.


Head Judge: Beth Livesay, NAILS Magazine


Senior editor Beth Livesay has worked in art-related publishing for seven years, with experience in both newsstand and B2B magazines. Her work as an editor has been acknowledged by The Los Angeles TimesThe Globe and MailThe Storque (the official blog of Etsy), and The Huffington Post. Her daily life is consumed by nail art, as she oversees the digital publication of Nail Art Gallery Magazine and social media for NAILS Magazine. An avid fan of reality-style competitions like Project Runway and Cupcake Wars, Beth leapt at the chance to oversee NAILS’ Next Top Nail Artist and has so enjoyed getting to know and work with our competitors.


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Weekly Judge: Lavette Cephus, NAILS Next Top Nail Artist 2015 Winner


With more than seven years’ experience doing nails, NAILS Next Top Nail Artist Season 2 winner Lavette Cephus proved herself by coming back from CND’s Last Chance Design Lab to win the entire competition last January. The Toledo, Ohio-based salon owner strives to inspire other nail techs and continues to give back to her community. Since winning NTNA, Lavette has designed nails at New York Fashion Week and was named a NEXTGEN artist whose nails appeared at the Beauty Changes Lives Legacy Awards in Chicago. She continues to motivate nail professionals by teaching classes and workshops.


Week 1 Guest Judge: Margaret Pak, Dashing Diva


VP of Marketing for Dashing Diva, Margaret Pak is a hands-on, seasoned business manager with extensive experience developing new business formats from the ground up — from initial product concept ideation/development through test market phase and final point-of-sale implementation. Originally trained as a graphic designer, Margaret is responsible for marketing and sales of Dashing Diva professional products from concept to launch. Some of her most recent product developments include Bling Appliqués, Nail Tattoos, and Dry Transfers.


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Week 2 Guest Judge: Gina Silvestro, Akzentz


With more than 25 years’ experience as a veteran nail tech, Gina is recognized worldwide as a highly respected educator, award-winning competitor and role model in the nail industry. She is a frequent contributor and cover artist for NAILS and Nailpro, and she has worked with an impressive list of celebrity clients such as Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Kristen Davis, and many Victoria’s Secret models. Gifted with the ability to advance and evolve in the beauty industry without losing individuality, Gina strives to stay on the cusp of the latest trends and share innovative techniques with her peers. Gina’s expertise spans a wide array of media, with Akzentz gel and Swarovski crystal nail design as her main focus.


Week 3 Guest Judge: Yuliya Normand, Entity Beauty


Florida-based Yuliya Normand has over 10 years of experience in the nail industry, specializing in sculpted gel nails and custom bridal designs. She has a teaching background in Eastern Europe and holds Master Degrees in English and French. Being an Entity Global Artist gives her an excellent opportunity to combine her passion for both teaching and nails. Yuliya believes that any investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. She never misses an opportunity to learn and stay on top of the newest technologies. She truly enjoys sharing her knowledge and skills with the other artists, helping them to become better nail professionals. Yuliya’s goal is to inspire nail artists around the world to improve in their careers.




Week 4 Guest Judge: Jeff Pink, Orly International


As the founder, president, and CEO of Orly International, Jeff has been revolutionizing the nail care industry since 1975. Over the years, he has been dedicated to inspiring beauty care professionals around the world with specialty products including nail care treatments and lacquers. One of Jeff’s true passions has been designing timeless and innovative nail looks. As the creator of The Original French Manicure, Jeff brought the first classic nail look not only to the nail care industry, but to the world of fashion. Twenty-seven years and countless innovations later, Jeff introduced the patented, ergonomic Gripper Cap in 2002. The American Beauty Association has honored Jeff’s achievements with numerous ABBIE awards, recognizing his overall excellence in the beauty industry. In 2005, Jeff celebrated Orly’s 30th Anniversary and the launch of SpaRitual, the first eco-luxury nail, foot, and body care line designed exclusively for professional salons and spas.


Week 5 Guest Judge: Hellen Luu, Bio Seaweed Gel


Hellen Luu is the daughter of Bio Seaweed Gel (BSG) founders Michael and Amy Luu. From salon management to BSG educator, she has been involved in the nail industry since she was 16 years old.  Among her many responsibilities, Hellen has personally chosen and named every single BSG color. Her creative, modern, and green perspective have aided the evolution of Bio Seaweed Gel. Hellen’s emphasis on healthy gel products has spurred BSG’s new big-five-free formula. Hellen believes that nail art and design are the best ways to express your individuality and you should never be afraid to show your true (nail) colors!


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Week 6 Guest Judge: Rosie Johnson, Gel II


Born and raised in a family of salon owners, Rosie went on to become a licensed nail tech, which she did happily for 18 years. She went on to become a manufacturer’s educator, a sales representative,  and now a new role in product development and testing for Gel II. “I am truly blessed to be a part of this industry!”, Rosie says.


Week 7 Guest Judge: Nishita Doshi, China Glaze


China Glaze Associate Brand Manager Nishita Doshi owes her love of beauty to her mother … and department store sampling bags. When Nishita was a child, her mother would purchase beauty products from major department stores but only when they offered a bag full of samples with purchase. She handed these goodie bags to her daughter, who would spend hours trying on the various lipsticks, eye shadows and nail lacquers while poring over the ingredients on each label. With Nishita’s scientific mind and a love for color, it’s only fitting that after receiving her degree in Marketing from CSU Fullerton, Nishita jumped at the opportunity to work in the beauty industry. Nishita spends her days happily developing one of the beauty products she’s loved for so long – nail lacquer – as well as  nail art products and China Glaze’s gel and extended wear lines, Gelaze and EverGlaze. If you’re looking for Nishita outside the office you’ll find her getting creative in the kitchen and relaxing with her husband over a home-cooked meal.


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Week 8 Guest Judge & Play Along at Home Weekly Judge: Danny Haile, Gelish


A veteran nail technician with more than 30 years in the nail business, Danny Haile is also a fierce award-garnering nail competitor who holds many international titles in competition, including WIMBA World Champion, International Nail Champion, Midwest Champion, and others. He retired from active competition in the middle of the last decade and since has been a judge of nail competitions all around the world. He also trains world champion nail competitors. Danny has published articles in Scratch Magazine in the U.K., NAILS and NailPro magazines in the U.S., Unghie in Italy, and many, many other professional, beauty trade, and consumer publications. His passion is in product development. A few years ago, wanting to fulfill his passion, Danny came back to the industry and started Hand and Nail Harmony in 2009. There, Danny has utilized the newest technology to re-develop acrylic product systems and redesigned gel systems to create the award-winning Gelish. Danny has learned so much from the nail professionals he’s educated over the last 25 years and his business is a culmination of all those lessons learned.



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Week 9 Guest Judge: Marisol Alvarado, INM


Renowned nail artist and INM Educator Marisol Alvarado has been in the beauty industry since 2007, including six years as a cosmetology instructor. As a nail artist she specializes  in acrylic sculpting, gel sculpting, and multi-dimensional sculpting. “Although I love every part of this industry, nail artistry is my true passion,” Marisol says.


Week 10 Guest Judge: Sara Pollock, EzFlow


Sara Pollock, Brand Manager of EzFlow at American International Industries, has seen her career blossom along with the acrylics industry she loves to be a part of. Sara started her career on the PR side but quickly found a passion in product development within the beauty industry. Now leading EzFlow, Sara is committed to keeping the brand at the forefront in quality, technology, and design. “Every day I’m blown away by the amazing nails that can be created with our products,” she says. This creative expression drives Sara’s love of developing new colors, themes, and continually looking to identify the “next big thing” in the acrylics industry. When not running marathons (she’s done nine so far), Sara enjoys spending time with her Yorkie, Charley, and adding to his extensive bow tie collection.