Nail Artist Q&A: “Nailed Down!” with Cynthia Santiago!

Cynthia Santiago Composite

Welcome to NAILPRO’s Nailed Down! where we “nail down” nail artists and technicians from our User Galleries and get to know them and their amazing work!

This week we visit Stockton, California!

Meet Cynthia Santiago:





Where do you work?
I currently do nails out of home. That’s the way it’s been for me for a few years now. I like it that way. I’m my own boss and I can do nails on my own time. I could do nails at 2AM if I wanted to (and I have, on more than one occasion!) and nobody (but my husband) can tell me I can’t. LOL


How would you describe yourself?
I would describe myself as a very open minded, creative, passionate, fun, easy to talk to, up for anything person who loves to learn new things. The only way to stay relevant is to continuously progress.


How did you get started in the nail industry?
I got started in the beauty industry 10 years ago when I was 17. I’ve always been in love with everything fashion and beauty related, so I decided to become a cosmetologist. I enrolled in beauty school and therein started my journey. I learned to do nails as part of the course, but when you go to school for cosmetology, the focus is more on hair and not so much on nails. So, naturally, my focus was on hair, too. But I was always drawn to everything nails.


So every two weeks for the next few the years I would go and get my nails done at my favorite shop with my favorite tech, and I must have had something like a epiphany. I remember thinking, “I could do this.” So I started with polish. Then slowly I started playing with acrylics and getting more and more into everything that had to do with nails.


One day I went into our local nail supply (where they later came to know me on a first name basis) and my toes were painted. I would still get my nails done at the shop, so my toe nails were my own canvas. The shop owner who was talking to another customer noticed my feet and commented on them. Just then the lady he had been talking to turned to look and asked if I had done them myself. I said yes. She gave me her card told me to call her after I had my baby. I was pregnant at the time which probably made the fact that I could reach my toes, let alone paint them with that much detail, pretty amazing I suppose! Any who, it turned out she was a local salon owner. She pretty much lit the fire under my a– er… tail that day and have had the confidence to pursue this. Not a week later I enrolled in a manicure program at a local beauty school to better acquaint myself with the industry and well, the rest is history. I know it’s kind of a long story. It’s been ten years in the making and still being written, but it’s mine.


What/Who inspires your work?
I definitely pull Inspiration from fashion and just things I see from day to day. My clients inspire me without even knowing it sometimes. I LOVE YOU GUYS!


Are there any tools you can’t live without?
One tool… does polish count? It is what started it all for me, after all. And everybody who knows me knows it’s Orly for me. I just love them. Other than that, I couldn’t live without my brush and e file. Okay, I probably could, but I’d rather not. LOL


What is your favorite technique/style?
My favorite style as of right now are the stiletto, or almond shape nails. I’m way in love with this shape right now. There’s just something so sexy about them.


What is your craziest/funniest nail story?
OMG! The most memorable experience I’ve had as a tech happened when I was in school. I had a client one day, an older lady, come in for a pedicure. I was in the middle of her service when I notice this, like, white line on her big toe nail. It really looked to me like she had smashed her toe on something previously, so I commented on it. She then proceeds to tell me that it’s a fungus she has. There I am, no gloves on, going to town on this lady’s feet. I about died. I notified my instructor. She came and confirmed that it was, indeed, a fungus and that we wouldn’t be able to continue with her service and offered her a refund and she left. Nothing I could do. It turned out that she had left a few more things off of her client card. Needless to say, it’s very rare that I give any pedicures these days. I tend to stay away from feet unless I know them personally! LOL


What tip can you offer other nail technicians?
The best tip I could give to other nail techs is to take risks and try everything. GO BEYOND YOUR LIMITS WHEN IT COMES TO CREATIVITY. Don’t ever look at something and think you could never get it. Everything takes practice. Try it. You might surprise yourself. I did.


Anything else you’d like to add?
The only thing I would like to add is a very special thank you to my husband and best friend J. Santiago. He has been so amazingly supportive of me and my crazy ideas. Putting up with the late night nail appointments, and endless amounts of glitter, everywhere, always! I know that without the patience, understanding, and support, I couldn’t do what I love.


You can find Cynthia Santiago on the web:
In the NAILPRO User Gallery: cee_sant
Instagram: cee_sant
Facebook: Cynthia Santiago


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