Now in its ninth season, NAILS Magazine’s Next Top Nail Artist (NTNA) is the premiere competition within the professional nail industry. This year, NAILS is delighted to be partnering with CND and KUPA to bring this competition to life!
Contestants who enter NTNA 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.
See all Rules and Regulations related to NTNA here.
Who will be NAILS Next Top Nail Artist?
Each week, 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 that excite creativity and test their ability to innovate.
In addition to creating their nail art masterpieces, the competitors will be shooting video demos and sharing their entries via social media.
Every Friday one contestant will be eliminated. Every Monday, 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 winner of NAILS Next Top Nail Artist Season 9 will receive cash and product prizes and a fab trophy, not to mention major bragging rights!
OUR ESTEEMED PANEL OF JUDGES
Head Judge: Jan Nordstrom Arnold, CND (@janarnoldcnd)
Jan Arnold is the Co-founder and Style Director of CND. Her father, Dr. Stuart Nordstrom, was the brilliant dentist and organic chemist whose discoveries launched the company in 1979. Her family built CND on a commitment to advancing the state of the industry through groundbreaking innovation and world-class education.
Since the company’s inception, Jan has come to epitomize the many facets of CND. Her experience as a brand engineer has contributed to the company’s success as the global leader in professional nail products and services. Her vision for innovation, education and commitment to the Nail Professional has driven CND’s position in the market since its founding.
Jan’s personal sense of style makes her the high-fashion face behind the brand. When asked about the secret to her success, she has attributed it to thinking “big” – big ideas, big impact and BIG passion! She is an inspiration to everyone around her.
One need only look to Fashion Week to see Jan and CND’s many accomplishments. For more than 21 years, CND’s top Education Ambassadors and Nail Professionals have adorned runway models’ fingertips and ignited trends during global Fashion Weeks, including New York, London and Paris. The company has collaborated with many of fashion’s most desirable designers, including The Blonds, Libertine, Alexander Wang, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Carolina Herrera, just to name a few. As a result, nails have become the ultimate fashion accessory for women around the world, elevating Nail Professionals to an all-time high.
Jan is founding Board Member of Beauty Changes Lives (BCL), a foundation committed to elevating, educating and exposing the richness of a career in professional beauty. She led an effort to raise scholarship donations for aspiring Nail Professionals though the creation of the BCL CND Tippi Hedren Nail Scholarship Fund, which has raised $225,000 to-date.
Judge and Producer, Beth Livesay (@shmeth)
Beth Livesay worked in publishing for 12 years, serving as the chief editor for magazines such as NAILS Magazine, Altered Couture, Apronology, and Jewelry Affaire. She has produced the NAILS Next Top Nail Artist competition for seven seasons, growing it into an international phenomenon that continues to set the standard for nail artistry in the digital space. In 2019, she created the spin-off NAILS Next Top Nail Artist All Stars, featuring several returning NTNA fan favorites. Her work on NTNA won the Maggie Award for best use of social media for a trade or consumer publication in 2016. Beth’s keen eye for personal style has made her a sought after writer for The Tease, Hello Giggles, The Huffington Post, Bloomingdales, and local magazines including Newport Beach Magazine and Laguna Beach Magazine. As a beauty industry authority, Beth has served as a judge for Nailympia USA, the Contessa Awards, NAHA, and Salon Today’s Salon of the Year Awards.
Judge and Game Master, Winnie Huang (@winnieisawesome)
Originally hailing from Vancouver, Winnie Huang is an inspiring and passionate leader in the nail industry, with more than 7 years’ experience as a Certified Nail Professional. The NAILS Next Top Nail Artist season 3 winner has worked extensively with CND™ as a global collaborator and guest artist for top tier events, including fashion week in New York, London, Paris, and Milan.
Winnie’s creative techniques showcase an array of nail styles, mixing colors to create standout designs and trend-worthy looks. Her work can be seen on popular TV shows like Van Helsing, The Order, and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, in addition to global publications such as InStyle and FASHION Magazine.
Winnie is a pillar in the nail community, continuously applying her knowledge to break the barriers of nail design, while educating herself on the latest, greatest nail technologies. There’s no doubt that Winnie will continue to develop innovative, versatile, and state-of the-art designs to inspire other Nail Professionals for years to come.
Judge and Winner of NTNA Season 8, Emily Nash (@nailsbyem)
Emily Nash has done nails for 10 years. As someone who loves painting and drawing, it’s no surprise she loves nail art. An avid competitor, Emily has participated in three seasons of NTNA as well as NTNA All Stars. She won NAILS’ Mini Masterpiece Competition as well as NTNA Season 8. Emily has worked as an educator, traveling the country to teach classes and work trade shows. As part of her Season 8 win, Emily began her foray into editorial work by participating in a CND photo shoot. “I love that I get to come into work and be creative and give people a confidence boost, every day,” says Emily of her craft.
Judge and Master Educator for KUPA, Mia Do (@nails_by_mamamia)
A cosmetologist since 2004, Mia Do has an unbreakable passion for the beauty industry. Now a cosmetology instructor, Do says that the industry chose her as much as she chose it. Growing up with educators in her family instilled Do with the desire to teach. In addition to being a cosmetology instructor she also does private trainings and works with KUPA Inc. as a Master Educator/Corporate Liaison. Her love for nail art is renewed each time she picks up a brush. As a salon owner, Do is able to combine her love for creativity and communication. A true believer in the saying “Do what you love and love what you do,” Do cherishes learning as much as teaching.
WEEKLY JUDGES: OUR SPECIAL GUEST STARS
Weeks 1 & 10: Ryoko Garcia @nailsbyryoko
Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, Ryoko Garcia has always been on the cutting edge of nails. She holds a degree in business commerce in addition to being a graduate of Reheart Nail College in Tokyo. Garcia loves looking for her next challenge, which is why she has competed and placed in over 10 international nail art competitions. She has the distinction of winning Season 1 of NAILS Next Top Nail Artist, setting the bar for contestants for years to come. Her nails have appeared on the cover of NAILS Magazine and Nail Style. Ryoko’s designs have been developed for Kiss Products and featured in campaigns for Gelish and Morgan Taylor. She currently works for Kiss Products and full-time in the salon in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
Weeks 1 & 10: Valerie Ducharme @vdnailart
Valerie Ducharme is an entrepreneur and an artist. She opened her own Nails Academy in Canada where she shares her passion with thousands. Her mission is to constantly push to elevate standards in the beauty industry, especially in her province of Quebec. In 2017, she poured her heart out and created her own line of nail products and other nail art articles which brings her to take amazing trips and teach across Canada.
Valerie won many National competitions as well as the Internationally acclaimed Next Top Nail Artist Season 5 Competition organized by Nails Magazine. She is often a judge for international and national competitions and other events in the beauty industry, you might just cross her path at some event!
Her creations were seen at New York’s Fashion Week in 2018 and 2019 with the collaboration of CND World.
Week 2: Lauren Wireman @wildflowersnails
Lauren Wireman entered the Beauty Industry in 2001. She began competing in nail competitions in the hopes of starting a school and won in both Nails NTNA competition, and Oxygen’s “Nail’d It”. In 2012 she began a company called Wildflowers Nail Academy to bring innovative education to nail technicians across the world. Since then, her trendsetting work has been in high demand as an editorial artist, educator, and cover tech. Wireman is now one of the most sought-after nail educators and product developers in the nail industry. Wireman is an international competition judge and a member of the International Nail Judges Association.
Weeks 2 & 10: Melisa Salazar @artisannailstudio
Melisa Salazar is the Owner of Artisan Nail Studio in Boca Raton, FL. She loves design and fashion. She has a passion for learning new fun trends for nails. Her sense of humor and laidback personality make her clients’ time at her table enjoyable, comfortable, and fun. Melisa’s love for the nail business stems from the personal connections she makes at Artisan Nail Studio. Melisa has been featured in NAILS and Nail Pro magazines, demonstrating her unique and creative style of nail art. She was also a finalist in NAILS NTNA Season 6. Melisa returned and won the prestigious OPI NTNA All Star Nail competition in 2020. Melisa has been a Mentor for the Beauty Envision Award for Nail Art. Currently she is a Design Team Nail Artist for OPI and an OPI Nail Educator teaching students and nail technicians up to date nail and design techniques. A Costa Rica native, Melisa enjoys traveling, being an amateur foodie, and of course shopping.
Week 3: Celina Rydén @celinaryden
Celina Rydén was born in Stockholm, Sweden and got her nail license back in 2005. Nails were not the only thing she was interested in and her passion for dance took over, leading to a 10 year professional dance career while doing nails as a side business. In 2012 she got back to the nail world full-time and immediately started to do nails for both Swedish and international celebrities like Kesha. In 2015, she applied for NTNA Season 3 (where she met her nail besties Sarah and Winnie) and was named the first brand ambassador and international instructor for Light Elegance. Up until the pandemic she traveled the world, working at trade shows and doing international classes. In 2018, she was announced as the first authorized nail instructor for Scandinavia and Benelux and reseller for Swarovski.
Celina got her own nail studio and in 2019 and launched her web shop and nail brand Moonflair, focusing on nail art. In 2021 she launched her online nail education platform, My Nail Academy and launched her own crystal brand, Moonflair Crystals. She has amassed over 360k followers across her social media platforms and was voted one of the top 3 nail influencers and top 5 nail instructors in the world in 2019 (NailPro). In addition to running two companies she is working on a lot of big releases for 2022.
Week 3: Sarah Elmaz @getbuffednails
Sarah Elmaz is the creator of Get Buffed Nails and currently works from her home studio in Melbourne, Australia creating original works of art on her customers’ nails. She has been a trained nail technician for 20 years. Her nail art has featured in well-known nail and beauty magazines, such as NAILS Magazine and NailPro. She has also created a successful social media platform which helps to spread her work across the globe. In addition to working as a nail technician, she is a mother of two boys. Sarah has made it her goal to share the secrets to great nails and teach beautiful nail artwork to as many people as possible. You can find nail art brushes designed and perfected by Sarah at getbuffedpro.com.
Week 4: Dana Cecil @dana_nailjunkie
With over 17 years of experience, Dana Cecil is the epitome of a nail junkie. She has been a nail salon owner since 2013 and is currently expanding into her second salon. Dana’s addiction to competing resulted in her being a finalist in NTNA Seasons 4 and 5 and being named an NTNA All Star in 2020. As the owner of Dana Nail Junkie and Co. in New Philadelphia, Ohio, Dana continues to create awe-inspiring nail art for her clients. Her artwork and salon have been featured in NAILS Magazine, Nail Art Gallery Magazine, and Scratch Magazine. Dana loves sharing her knowledge and learning from her peers. Her passion for this industry is why she loves what she does and continues to be a part of this community.
Week 4: Hemi Park @sugarplumfairyfingers
Hemi Park has built her career and branded herself around nail competitions. Hemi has competed all over the United States including NAILPRO Competitions, Nailympia, and NAILS Next Top Nail Artist, and she has proven to be a strong competitor.
Since her 3rd placement in NTNA season 5 in 2017, Hemi has competed, judged, and coordinated competitions all over the U.S. and Asia. She has also been working and creating for professional brands like LeChat Nails, and her work has been featured in numerous publications and media.
Weeks 5 & 10: Lavette Cephus @beaute_asylum
Champion of Season 2 of NAILS NEXT TOP NAIL ARTIST, Lavette Cephus is the mother of two beautiful daughters, Serenity and Story. She’s a creative artist known for designing nail sets that match her outfits, showcasing her extreme love of fashion and nails. Cephus is celebrating 15 years as a nail professional. She has traveled across the U.S. to master her craft, network, and stay up-to-date on the latest trends that the fast-paced beauty industry has to offer. After winning NTNA, she has gone on to do editorial work including the cover of NAILS Magazine, Beauty Link Magazine, and appeared in three issues of ESSENCE Magazine. Cephus has served as a guest artist at New York Fashion Week, designing nails for The Blonds and Libertine. She was named the first NEXTGEN Nail Artist of Beauty Changes Lives. Cephus currently owns Beautè Asylum Salon located in Toledo, Ohio while residing, working, and managing a music artist in Atlanta, GA.
Weeks 6 & 10: Ashton Harlan @misashton
Ashton Harlan, winner of Next Top Nail Artist season 6, is no stranger to nail competitions. Since NTNA she has continued to earn multiple titles including; Presto Gel Challenge 2019 Grand Champion, Beauty Envision Awards 2020 Nail Artist of the Year, and Trendvision Awards 2021 International Nail Artist of the Year. “I love everything about the nail industry. It is always evolving by way of new products and trends, which keeps the possibilities to learn, teach, and share constant. The sense of community within our industry is something that I deeply cherish. Being inspired by others and being one to inspire others has led to incredible friendships and opportunities.”
Week 6: Carly Snyr @c.a.r.mani
Carly Snyr is a 10-year licensed nail technician from southeast Michigan. This Midwest tech is licensed in both MI and OH. She specializes in hand painted nail art and sculpted hard gels as she was greatly affected by an acrylic allergy 6 years into her career. She’s competed in 4 different seasons of Nails Next Top Nail Artist, making 2nd place in Season 6 and Top 4 of NTNA OPI All Stars! She was a finalist in Wella’s Beauty Envision Awards for 2021. Carly is currently running her own salon and in charge of making social media content for different nail product companies.
Week 6: Nixxi Rose @nails.by.nixxi.rose
Nixxi Rose has been a nail technician for just short of 5 years and works from her own gingerbread house -themed salon in the south of England. She was lucky enough to be the second runner up in season 6 of NTNA and had the time of her life. She followed the competition for many years before training to become a nail technician so Next Top Nail Artist has always held a very special place in her heart. Her specialty is acrylic 3-D work and loves the freedom and creativity that comes with nail art. She cannot wait to see what magic the season 9 contestants create!
Weeks 7 & 10: Giselle Caballero @egobeauty.ca
Originally from Mexico City, Giselle Caballero took a chance in life when she moved to Canada. Currently based in Kelowna, B.C., nails helped Giselle find her place in her new home.
She opened Ego Beauty Academy and Studio in 2015. At Ego Beauty, Giselle offers training and education in the latest techniques and nail trends. As a salon owner, Giselle takes pride in her work, offering personalized and professional services at the highest quality and standards.
In 2020, Caballero took home the title of NAILS Next Top Nail Artist for Season 7, winning the largest cash prize in the competition’s history. Aside from being a master nail technician Giselle is currently an independent educator and content creator working with some of the best brands out there and of course continues to teach, create, and inspire: “I love the joy my work brings to others, whether it is bringing to life a new creation for my clients or guiding my students in class. It’s amazing how the things that may seem little can make such a huge difference in our lives, nails are my happy place!”
Week 7: Stella Sampson @nailart.stella
Stella Sampson is a chemical engineer with a huge passion for nail art. She started her career in the nail industry in 2015. She has received many nail awards and was named first runner up of NTNA Season 7. She loves combining her two professions by creating unique and extraordinary moving pieces out of nail products. Known as @nailart.stella on social media, she loves natural nails with clean and minimalistic, yet detailed nail art. In addition to her nail skills, Sampson is also an accomplished video editor and photographer. She is the creative director for IKON.IQ nails and Youtube video creator for Laloo Cosmetics.
Week 7: Allison Goertzen @allygnailartistry
Allison Goertzen is the owner of Ally G Nail Artistry and Ally G Studios in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her love for nails started around the age of 15 when she stumbled across a nail art tutorial on YouTube. She spent years practicing on herself and friends before going to school for aesthetics in 2016. Since then, Ally has spent many hours perfecting her own personal style and her ability to create unique designs tailored to each individual client. Since opening her first studio in 2018, she has made it her main goal to create a safe, inclusive, and non-judgmental space. In 2020, Ally competed in NTNA and was the first challenge winner of the season. She placed in the top for nearly every challenge, as well as placing first again in challenge number 5. During her time competing, she created many memorable designs including the CND 18th Century Design, a Billie Eilish-inspired set, and the Ugly Duckling Hey Diddle Diddle set. After her time in NTNA, Ally explored many new opportunities including becoming an Ugly Duckling family member, sharing her expertise with other professionals through classes, and opening up a second studio space where other beauty industry professionals can come to collaborate and grow their businesses.
Week 8: Jessica Warzyniak @oohnicenails
Jessica Warzyniak is a licensed cosmetologist that has been nailin’ since 2012 and currently works out of her own studio in Crown Point, Indiana. She’s competed since 2014 and loves the personal and professional growth that comes with competing. Some notable accomplishments are taking gold at Nailympia in 2017 and winning 3rd place in NTNA in 2021. Her nail art style is eccentric and unorthodox and she’s known for working with real insects and gemstones. She fiercely loves the nail industry. Creating art for a living is an amazing privilege, but she mostly loves the human connections and friendships that she’s forged via nail art. The nail industry is amazing, and Jessica is grateful to be a part of it.
Week 8: Stephanie Loesch @_stephsnails_
Stephanie Loesch has been a licensed manicurist in California for 10+ years. She’s known for her all acrylic nail art and love for bedazzling all things nails! She lives in a small town in Northern California and hasn’t let that stop her from creating works of art by encouraging clients to always step outside their box. Speaking of boxes, Stephanie stepped outside her “normal day to day life” and career as a manicurist to compete in Nails Next Top Nail Artist Season 8. Placing Runner Up next to winner Emily Nash, she proves you can succeed without having extensive competition experience. Nail art is her dearest passion as being a nail artist is something that provides more than a job, but also connection and friendship. She truly believes in this industry and how it can build anyone up, be a great tool in creating a life worth living and success always follows passion, integrity, and hard work. Competing opened her eyes to a whole new world in this Industry and she encourages anyone wondering if they should take that leap to do it. She feels the nail industry is nothing like it used to be and it’s exploding with creativity and Season 9 of NTNA will be nothing short of amazing.
Week 9: Buddy Sims @buddysimsnails
Buddy Sims is a “jack of all trades” in the nail community. His humble start began as a finalist in Season 1 of NTNA, opening doors to the many facets in our industry. Over the years he has worked with high profile brands and representatives in the industry at trade shows and in person. Currently, Sims is a brand ambassador and educator for CND and The Centre for Beauty as well as a published author. He has a passion for empowering licensed nail technicians.
Outside of educating, Buddy owns VIBE Salon & Day Spa in Omaha, NE, where he still works on clients. He holds a position on the Board of Cosmetology and works with Politics Beauty and Barber, where he strives to unify and raise trade standards to protect the professional beauty industry from deregulation.
Weeks 9 & 10: Tracey Lee @traceyleenails
South African born and bred, Tracey Lee now lives in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, where she discovered the amazing world of nails.
“After completing a nail course to be able to do my own nails, I was asked to join the education team at the Beauty Factory. During my 10 years there, I became Director of Education and Product Development. In 2016 I took on the role of Independent International Educator and a world of opportunities opened up for me. I applied for NAILS Next Top Nail Artist competition, having watched it for a couple of years. Talk about a life-changing event. It was not only the win that had an impact on my skills and my career, the entire journey through the competition made me a better nail professional. This experience will pick you up, turn you upside down and inside out and put you back stronger, more determined and more creative than you ever thought you could be! Winning Season 4 was the cherry on the top and it was through this opportunity that I was able to experience New York Fashion Week and meet some of my nail idols. My motto is K.E.Y: Keep Educating Yourself. I continue to do this and share my knowledge and experience with others through education.Tracey’s nail journey has come full circle, going back to where it all began as Creative Product Developer and Education Manager for Beauty Factory (International Beauty Partners) since April 2021.