Full Name: Sarah Elmaz
Hometown: Melbourne, Australia
Salon: Get Buffed Nails
Preferred Nail Art Medium: Acrylic and gel-polish
Favorite Nail Trend: Character nails

Nails are my passion, I have been in the industry for the best part of the last 13 years (yes I started very young!). My clients would call me a perfectionist, my friends would call me loyal and loving. Social media is taking nail art to the world and I would love to see what the world thinks of my art. I have never really considered myself an artist until now, and it feels amazing. I love the feeling when people appreciate my work. I want to bring my work to the next level in this competition and show the world that we Aussies can compete too. Most of all I want to make my children proud of me and show them they can do anything they dream of.

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Final Challenge: CND

Beauty Changes Lives Part 2

Click on the image above to enlarge and see all five sets.



Set 1: What’s beautiful to you?


I believe in nail art and in life, nothing is more beautiful than color and detail. I find beauty in the fine details of henna designs. When I paint these designs I feel relaxed and at peace. Henna encompasses the beauty of nature and culture. I painted the base nails in a vertical ombrè rainbow, adding finely detailed henna designs (all using gel-polish). To add more pops of color I used syrup gel to accent some of the design.


Set 2: How has beauty changed your life?


Other than being my financial support for many years, beauty has brought many friendships into my life. I met my best friend 11 years ago when we worked together in a salon. We have been friends ever since, even maid of honor at each other’s weddings! So for me friendship is the most significant way beauty has changed my life. And I still make new friends in this industry after almost 14 years! So I decided to do a nail art interpretation of a friendship bracelet. This design has some 3-D as well as textural elements. I chose a black, white, and gold Aztec theme.


Set 3: What does the future of beauty look like?


My inspiration behind this set is Faberge Eggs, which were given to the Russian royal family as gifts at Easter time. Eggs symbolize rebirth and a new beginning, the future of beauty will depend on what we make it! Some of the pieces are versatile and can be worn as jewelry. Perhaps this is something we will see in the future, multi-purpose nails! The floral elements with color change petals are a representation of the constant growth and change that we see in the industry. The large green egg also holds a surprise. The tree branch is made from an Australian gum tree to remind me of my roots, even when I’m far from home.


Set 4: Shout Your Beauty


I am always complimented on my long hair, so I decided to make a fusion of nails and hair to shout my beauty! To follow an avant-garde style, and also keep to the theme of all my work, I was inspired by images of Marie Antoinette and Spartan warrior armour, these themes include decadent metallic designs and soft colors. I wanted my design to still be very pretty and feminine, but have an edgy feel by having hair included in the design.


Set 5: Jan’s Nails


For Jan’s nails I kept to a minimal style as she tends to go for more simplistic, edgy designs. My inspiration for theme and colors was taken from the fashion images on her Pinterest board. The flowers change color under different temperatures. They change to a bright orange when hot, so this set would be constantly changing.


Click here to see a step-by-step tutorial of one of Sarah’s sets of nails.


Click here to see a video diary of Sarah’s final nails.

Final Challenge: CND

Beauty Changes Lives

Tippi Hedren was instrumental in bringing employment and hope to many devastated Vietnamese refugees after the war, she is often referred to as the ‘Godmother’ of the Vietnamese nail community. CND and Tippi still continue to help young hopefuls in the nail industry with a scholarship program for students called Beauty Changes Lives. This is such an amazing opportunity for those without the means to pay for tuition.


For this challenge I decided to create an East meets West inspired set. I have traveled to Vietnam and I remember fondly the beautiful people, colors, and tropical flowers. Also during my travels I visited the U.S. One thing I remember is how patriotic the citizens are. Red, white, and blue can be seen everywhere. It must have felt like such a culture shock to the Vietnamese refugees when they arrived in America, as the two places are so different. This is why I chose to do two different hands to represent each country and how they now come together through nails.


Week 10: EzFlow

Easily Enchanted

My first thought went to the classic Disney movie, Peter Pan, and the magical world Neverland where you never have to grow old. Fairies like Tinkerbell spend their days roaming enchanted forests making magical things happen. My fantasy nails start from the thumb, in London with Big Ben, where the rainbow can take you across to the forest of Neverland. Tinkerbell is hovering around the forest, making magical flowers appear wherever she goes. Sparkling butterflies can be seen below every rainbow and mystical, magical doors can transport you to a different place and time. I wanted this piece to represent and encompass my time so far in the competition, but also stay true to my style of being clean and simplistic. I made each of the nails to have a similarity to other challenges I have done throughout the competition, to see how much growth and journey I have taken. Before NTNA, I had never completed a fantasy piece, and the thought of it felt overwhelming. But now I feel confident that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. Even though I have been in the nail industry for a long time, this competition has taught me so much, and this is the culmination of my growth.


Click here to see a step-by-step tutorial of Sarah’s nails.

Week 9: INM

Animated Short

This week is all about 3-D movement and bringing nail art to life! When I think of INM, I automatically think of the amazing colored acrylics, Gelavish gel-polish, and the INM swan logo (and the animated INM swan Jimmy of course). My creation started with a white female swan, to be Jimmy’s love interest. I decided to name her Kimmy! To make Kimmy come to life, I attached small ball joints under her wings to create the movement to make her appear as if she is flying. For the animated part of the video I took a series of pictures and loaded them to flipagram, turned up the speed, and Kimmy came to life. I added some lily pads and the INM logo as a flower, because INM is so well known for having fabulous colored acrylics.


Click here to see a video diary about Sarah’s nails.

Week 8: Gelish

Rocky Horror Halloween

I love anything Halloween related, so I was super excited to get started on this entry. One of the movie’s central characters is Frank N. Furter, the crazy, cross-dressing, mad scientist transvestite. His kooky character and costume is just filled with naughty nail ideas, so that’s where my design inspiration began. I knew I could not do this set justice without some shiny red, glittery lips, fishnet stockings, and pearls (which glow in the dark). The other nails I created are a mash-up of a few of the central characters, including Rocky’s gold hot pants and Columbia’s glittery show girl costume. I used a mixture of acrylic, gel-polish, and regular polish to create this Rocky Horror Halloween set.


Click here to see a video diary about Sarah’s nails.

Week 7: China Glaze

The Next Picasso

This week we were allowed to paint anything we liked, so I decided I wanted to incorporate some Disney characters into my nail art. When I was a child I loved anything related to Disney and so do my children, so when I get to use this Disney as inspiration in my work, I feel a sense of fun and of being a kid again.


During my search I came across the artist Tim Rogerson; he creates amazing Disney character art, including some Picasso-themed pieces. I wanted to pay homage to him as a current working artist, because I feel there are so many great artists who just don’t get the accolades that they deserve, so if this brings some attention to a fellow artist then that makes me feel like I have accomplished something. The art he creates is fun and bright and fits perfectly into the idea that was in my mind. My overall inspiration came from the bright style and colours used by the late Picasso and the style and images of Tim Rogerson’s work.


Click here to see a video diary about Sarah’s nails.

Week 6: Gel II

Sky's the Limit

The most recognizable city in Australia has to be Sydney, so naturally this was my first choice. I recreated the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, two of the most famous city structures in Australia and possibly worldwide! I chose to paint the base tips with a type of night sky reflection on the water, making sure to include the southern cross stars, which adorn our Australian skies and flag. I also sculpted a boat in the harbour, and of course a shark fin, since yes we do have bull sharks in the harbour. Gotta love Australia!


Click here to see a step-by-step tutorial for Sarah’s nails.

Week 5: Bio Seaweed Gel

In Unison

To me Unity means togetherness, all kinds of cultures uniting as one. I have traveled quite a lot in my life, and one thing that traveling has taught me is that we live in a very small world. I knew I wanted the world as a whole to be included in my design. After doing a little research I decided to create a globe and mark out where each of the contestants live, to show how this competition has brought people together from many different places in the world. The colors of the paper people holding hands is to signify different cultures coming together harmoniously. I painted the base tips with a technique to use all the colors blended into one another, thereby uniting all the colors. The Bio Seaweed Gel Bottle spilling signifies how the love of nails and nail art gives people common ground, no matter where they are from.


Click here to see a video diary about Sarah’s nails.

Week 4: Orly

L.A. Legend

The first landmark that pops into mind is the Hollywood sign; there is nothing that screams Hollywood more! So my decision was made: the Hollywood Sign, the most familiar Hollywood landmark that I know. I made a sunset silhouette effect for the sign, using all gel-polish. I created a sunset sky fade, and then painted the hills and the Hollywood sign on top. I left the nails with a matte finish so that all the fine details are visible.


Click here to view a video diary about Sarah’s nails.


Week 3: Entity

Pink & White Couture

The ultimate French look to me is long and lean, to give the illusion of long, slim fingers. Nail extensions are designed to make the hands look beautiful. This is the reason I chose to do long almond-shaped nails. I made them with an elongated, deep smile line, because to me this is the ultimate flattery to a woman’s hand.


Then it was time to turn them into a haute couture masterpiece and embellish them how we liked. Haute couture to me means high fashion, one of a kind design. I wanted them to have a very luxurious feel, which is why I chose the bronze and rose gold color palette. My inspiration came from images of European haute couture dresses. I embellished the nails with rose gold foil, Swarovski crystals and studs, a bronze acrylic rose, and some black acrylic ruffles. I really enjoyed making these nails, and I actually found it hard to take my eyes off them!


Click here to see a step-by-step tutorial of Sarah’s pink and white look.


Click here to see a step-by-step tutorial of Sarah’s haute couture look.

Week 2: Akzentz

All Fun & Games

This weeks sponsor was Akzentz, and we were asked to interpret our favorite board game in 3-D gel on a set of 10 tips. This is the first time I have ever attempted 3-D gel, and wow it’s much more difficult than I had even imagined! The first thing I did was go and buy some Akzentz gel to get myself started.


In the beginning I had a few thoughts on what board game I should attempt, but when Jumanji was brought to my attention, I knew this was the board game I wanted to showcase. I decided to recreate the Jumanji Board from the 1997 Robin Williams movie as the pieces are so detailed and interesting. I always loved Robin Williams movies growing up and feel like this has a strong connection to my childhood.


Almost everything on top of my tips was made from gel and gel-polish, with the exception of my game pieces which I hand made with modelling clay, then covered with gel-polish and scraped out the clay and the vines, which are gel covered wire. I added a small LED light under the Jumanji center piece, which can be turned on and off, and as an added feature the tiled path glows in the dark. So my creation has an eerie look when in the dark! I spent a lot of time on this challenge, and it really had me out of my comfort zone, but I am happy with the end result! I  hope the judges agree that I have done the Jumanji board game justice.


Click here to see a step-by-step tutorial of how Sarah made these nails.

Week 1: Dashing Diva

Pure Diva

Barbie needs no introduction — she doesn’t even need a last name! Girls from every corner of the earth know and love her. A diva is a goddess, a creature who is other worldly, just like Barbie — perfect in every way. My choice of Diva was made from the beginning, but how to do the nails justice? I thought, who knows Barbie’s style better than anyone? So I asked her biggest fans … some 6-year-old girls! Their answers were so precious and thoughtful, and absolutely the inspiration behind my designs. Here are the highlights of their requirements: pink, glitter, sparkles, magic. So I went to work. I made a pink bow with gold chains, and a Swarovski star heart charm. I added glow in the dark spots, for a little magic. I decided Barbie would have points, because she is very fashion-forward and likes to stay current with today’s trends, but she would have them at a manageable length so as she could still perform all her daily tasks. Each nail had its purpose and meaning. There is a textured pink leather handbag nail, with a complementing black rose. A white faux fur coat nail (Barbie would never wear real fur!) with flock for added texture, and that furry feel. A thumb with magic spots. A Swarovski bling nail fashioned from a jewel necklace Barbie wore in a Fashion Fairytale. I also encapsulated a gold Barbie logo head, with glitter of course. And there are flowers and hearts and pink and glitter — all the things Barbie is known for. It all came together nicely in the end, and I think Barbie would be proud to wear these nails. I hope the girls are happy with what I created from the ideas that sprung from their imaginations.


Click here to see Sarah’s Pinterest board.


Click here to see a video tutorial of how Sarah created these nails.