Nail Techs: How Do You Do Your Own Nails?

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As a nail tech, you do manicures for other people all day long. But when you go to polish your own nails – especially those on your non-dominant hand – it’s an adjustment. Plus, when are you supposed to find the time to do a service on yourself when you’re taking clients all day? Here are a few pointers from techs on doing their own nails – and how it can even help your bottom line.


Stephanie Ruggiero HandStephanie Ruggiero
Mick for Hair
Pinellas Park, FL

“The biggest challenge I face when doing my own nails involves time. I have difficulty finding a chunk of time in which I can get them done from start to finish. I complete one nail at a time because I always get interrupted. Even if I can’t perform a complete fill, a new coat of sealer always improves my nails’ appearance. I do my nails at the salon only, and I take about an hour to finish them in one sitting. If I do them between appointments, which is the norm, the process could take a couple of days.

“Tending to the nails on my right hand is also a challenge, so I always do my right hand first, just to get it out of the way.

“Since I’ve been doing my own nails, I have increased my bottom line by promoting the gel sealer I use. My clients love the shine on my nails and want to achieve the same look. I charge an additional $5 for the sealer, and performing this service saves me approximately 20 minutes.

“I work with four hairstylists. They call me over to talk to their clients and they refer clients to me. I show their clients my own nails and discuss my services with them.

“When I first started my career, I never wore enhancements—but what better way to advertise? My nails and hands are my strongest advertisement. I don’t trade services with another tech; I really feel proud and accomplished when someone says, “I love your nails. Where did you get them done?” and I can smile and say, “I do my own nails, and I could do yours like this too. Here’s my card.”

Beverley Wintjes HandBeverley Wintjes
Beverley Hills Nails
Mount Albert, Ontario, Canada

“Though doing my own nails is tricky, I’ve trained the left side of my brain to work better—I can even write pretty well with my left hand now. I practice writing with my left hand to train it to be more precise. Amazingly, if you work on the challenges of using your opposite hand, that hand can become almost as proficient as your dominant hand.

“As for technique, I rest my pinky on one of my fingers for balance, and I hold my hands close to me, in front of my face. I move my whole hand when applying the product, but I move only my thumb and index fingers when fine-tuning. I also find that if I do my right hand first, I have more patience and concentration.
I use my electric file on both hands, but I don’t use the ‘spaceship’ bit to trench the smile lines on my right hand; I use a regular band on the mandrel.

“I wear glitter, nail art or unusual designs on my nails to get people to notice them. We nail techs are our own advertisement. Everyone always asks where I got my nails done, and I hand out my business card; this tactic attracts new clients quite often. If your own nails don’t look nice, why would anyone want you to do theirs?”


Judy Topel HandsJudy Topel
Simonson’s Day Spa
Elk River, MN

“Every week on my days off, I review my nails. I look for shine and lifting and examine my need for a fill; then I take care of any problems I see. It’s important to me that my nails look flawless, and I try to keep them that way as much as possible. Depending on whether I’m filling, sealing or simply repairing, I spend about one-half to two hours each week on my personal nail care. I mostly work on my nails at home. Occasionally, if I need a repair that won’t interfere with my appointments, I will handle the repair at work.

“One challenge I have is keeping the gel from slipping off my nails as I contort my hand to apply product on the next nail. I’ve solved this problem by applying one layer on one nail and then freezing it under a UV lamp.”


Kathy Lynn Payne HandKathy Lynn Payne
Off Broadway Salon
Orangeville, Ontario, Canada

“I find that a certain technique works well for doing my right hand: I steadily hold the brush with the gel on it and move the finger I’m applying the gel to. I don’t practice this all of the time—only when I’m having trouble placing the gel with my left hand.

“When I use a file on my right hand, I tend to move my hand instead of the file so that I have more control.”

[Images: Cover image: NAILPRO; inside photos: courtesy of respective nail techs]

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