December 19, 2022



On any given day, you can find yourself in an unexpected game of whack-a-mole and a problematic set of circumstances. The thousand nail challenge (thinly veiled with absurdity) was a much needed life lesson.  In this space, we talk about what went down: the good, the bad, and the silver linings. Consider this an invitation into the fun sloppiness of our beginner’s technique and the pro smack talk that led to some nail tech enlightenment.

Sweet baby goodness! If your idea of excitement is watching paint dry; definitely check out the early moments of the thousand nail challenge. There was a prevailing sense of being the underdog. At the start, the pace was ridiculously slow. Think molasses-spread-on-a-freezing-day slow. Accomplishment looked like a measly sixty nails. Anxiety started to intoxicate everyone in the room and out came the speed calculations. With only 940 more to go, one small thing kept us moving forward the far off finish line. Never underestimate introducing comic relief and laughter to smooth over the mental rough patches of torturous hell. Keep it light my friend, will carry you to the end.

Splat. Donut. Stick. Crappy nail execution. Again. Repeat. Exhale. Another thing to keep in check are your expectations. As a beginner, when frustration slips in and the physical work doesn’t match up with how you thought it all was going to go down, be nice to yourself. Take a deep breath. Learning takes time. The goal should never be perfection. Make that your mantra so you can notice what small changes you can make to just do a little better each time. This is what matters. This is what becomes mastery. It can take doing the wrong thing 60 times to do it right on the 61st. Babies don’t learn how to walk in a day but eventually they learn how to run.

Beginners, the first issue in the thousand nail challenge was picking up the pearl and pressing too hard into the nail plate. Let’s say many donuts were created and not the kind we like. The other issue was that I was pulling the brush off too fast. Finally I could create space to ask myself, what am I really doing wrong?
In the nail challenge world, it’s all practice. Every rep is a chance to do better, test and tweak. So what happens if I don’t press so hard? What happens if I get curious and ask for help? I gain new information. I try new things and find the magic. It eventually all came together when I figured out that I can just lay it down. Pause. Wait a couple seconds and then release. Voila!

Beginners practicing overlays, the second issue working against me was gravity. I thought I could defy this one law of physics. So over and over again, I allowed gravity work against me. There is a right way to use it and a wrong. If I hold the finger up, then the product runs away from me to flood the cuticle area. If I roll the finger to the side, then the product runs away from me to puddle into the sides of the nail. Why won’t the product obey? A hundred hours later, I asked what if I position the finger so the front of the nail tip points down? If the finger points down then the hand will relax and naturally follow. This means your client cannot keep peeping while you work. Train them how to position their hand down so the work literally flows. This is where you will find your work rhythm.

Check in with your body often. Are your muscles and posture in “Salon Shape”? If they are not in the best nail pro condition, you will know it and feel it. You might not feel this when only applying product. Working with the electric file can do some unwanted damage if you are not paying attention to the needs of your body posture.  Feel into your body and its needs. Make time to fuel it up in more than ten minutes. Make stretching and standing (bathroom breaks, too) very intentional. Build it into your schedule. Double down on good ventilation. Prioritize taking care of yourself and your health, regardless if you’re doing a thousand nail challenge or not. Try to center your thoughts and actions.  You’re in the nail business mainly for a good quality of life that goes beyond just earning. The life of a nail tech has a lot of freedom. You are in charge of crafting the day for the most part. It can be easy to get lost in maximum productivity while sacrificing your body. Always take care of you best.

**This is an adaptation from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube which originally aired on April 13, 2022.

***Follow our YN YouTube Channel and click here to watch the full talk here: