Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Nail School Weeks 1 & 2: Begin with the Basics

I'm back with more tales from nail school! Today's recap covers the first two weeks of class. We learned a lot of the basics like manicuring, polishing, French manicures, and pedicures, plus some add-on services like paraffin treatments and spa manicures. If you missed my first nail school post, be sure to check it out!

Getting to know my school
The school that I chose offers rolling starts for their programs. That means that there is a large group of "seniors" that have already met the requirements for working with clients, and spend most of their time on the client floor, plus a small group of "freshmen" that are still learning the techniques and practicing on each other. Freshmen are graduated to the floor after a certain amount of classroom hours.

My freshman class is 7 people (including me) of all different ages, nationalities, genders, and walks of life. If you add us to the group of seniors, it brings the total number of students to somewhere around 20-25 people. We all wear black scrubs embroidered with the school logo to class as our uniforms. We spend an hour in theory every morning, studying subjects like anatomy and chemistry, and then get to work on practicing our current techniques.

Week one
The first day of class included taking care of administrative duties and meeting our classmates. This was also the day we got our kits! *cue angels singing* Your nail school kit should include everything you need to be a professional nail tech, and getting mine was like Christmas. I'm definitely planning a separate post on the kit, so keep an eye out.

Later that week, we also learned how to:
  • Perform a basic manicure: This includes tasks like trimming and shaping nails, pushing back the cuticle, nipping when necessary, and buffing.
  • Polish red and French: Though I have a lot of experience polishing my own nails, doing someone else's is a whole different animal. We had to learn the proper bracing techniques to steady our hands, and used red polish because you have to be very precise in its application. We also learned how to perform a basic French manicure.
  • Massage: I don't know about you guys but whenever I get a professional manicure, the massage is always the best part. Learning the proper movements and techniques will really help me customize my own hand and arm massage routine!
We also began studying the anatomy/physiology of the human body as well as the parts of the nail.

Week two
In our second week, we continued to practice the skills we learned in week one. We also added more services to our repertoire:
  • Spa manicure: This is similar to a basic manicure, but with added steps like scrubs and moisturizing hand masks. It's extra pampering for the gal that needs a bit more relaxation.
  • Paraffin treatment: Some of you may have done an at-home paraffin wax treatment before, and we learned how to perform it on clients. A paraffin treatment uses warm, oil-based wax to soften the skin and provide relief to sore joints. 
  • Buffing to a high shine: This is a great option for a client that comes in and wants to get a manicure without getting polish. Buffing to a high shine makes the natural nail smooth and shiny.
  • Prepping our practice hand: Part of our practice includes working on a creepy mannequin hand. However, she doesn't come with nail beds! So we learned how to use acrylic to attach nail tips to our practice hands so we can work on them as if they were real nails.
  • Basic pedicure: This is honestly the part that I dreaded the most, because feet and I totally do not get along. But our instructors told us to treat them the same way as we would a hand in a basic manicure, which helped me get past my nervousness. I know many of you don't like feet either, so if you'd like to check out my first pedicure, you can click here.
We were also tested on anatomy. I did really well on the exam, which felt awesome!

Here's a cool story, too! As I was performing my very first pedicure, a prospective student came in to tour the school. One of the senior students walked her through our classroom, and we all turned around to wave hello. As it turned out, Callie had recognized me from my segments on Nail'd It! We snapped a picture together and she posted it on her Instagram, @callienails. I hope to see her around the school soon!

This week, I think we are going to start learning gels. I have a bit of experience there, but again, it's mostly on myself! I'm looking forward to practicing further on my classmates.

Stay tuned for more recaps, plus details on what was included in my kit!


  1. You learned a lot of stuff in this first and second week! Some very interesting topics I didn't know too.

  2. I am jealous of your experience already! I feel like at my nail school, I was just thrown in with clients and expected to "figure it out" without any formal instruction...basically it was just about getting your hours in. I'm so EXCITED for you to have such a fabulous experience! :D Congrats, Sarah!

  3. That's so awesome you got recognized from being on TV - so cool!

  4. Loving this series you started of your nail school adventures! Im looking forward to your post about what came in your nail kit

  5. So enjoying hearing about your schooling!

  6. I'm interested to know if you learn anything that's different from how you've done it before.

  7. That's sound exciting. I am looking forward to read more of theseposts. U did superb french

  8. Ditto exactly what Amanda Truedson said!

  9. Loved reading this! Your passion really shows this way :)

  10. It's fascinating reading about what you're learning and how professional techniques compare with DIY manicures. Thanks for sharing your journey. :)

  11. This sounds so cool! A friend of mine, also a nail blogger, went to nail school last year and she also said it was a big learning curve to get used to doing someone else's nails!

  12. So interesting to read about your experiences. :)

  13. I really enjoy reading about your nail school experiences! Please keep writing about them in your posts and post pictures, too. It's really interesting.

  14. Hi Sarah, I was just wondering if anyone would recognize the famous Sarah of Chalkboard Nails!!!! I've seen those creepy zombie hands in the back room at the hair salon I go to -- zoinks! As Shaggy would say. There are also some loathsome doll heads that the hair stylists practice on.... whoa, those things are just lurking around in the closets, waiting to scare someone!

  15. This helps me out so much. Thank you! What was the anatomy exam like?

  16. Ours was multiple choice, so that made things easier. However, it was all scientific stuff, so I definitely made sure I studied!


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