Friday, 31 January 2014

Competition made easy - my top tips

There are two distinct ways to approaching competing, the holistic thoughtful approach and then the down right practical.  

Winners are those who have a nice balance of both. 

Sometimes our approach to the competing  is not in line with our perceived outcome.    The saying “it's not the winning but the taking part that counts” are words  we have all heard and perhaps said it to others our self's, but if we are honest do we really think it applies to us?   

Getting the approach to competing right in our heads, will ultimately mean when it comes down to the practical side of competing we are one step closer.  Take a moment to realise why you are entering the competition, what are your goals.  Do you want the recognition? Do you want to improve your skills? Is it the feedback from the judges your interested in? or perhaps you want to market your competing to improve your business.  Finding out your drive to enter a competition will help you focus in the competition. Each of the points I have mentioned is a valid benefit to competing and means regardless of a 1st 2nd or 3rd place you are still a winner.  

If your entering a nail competition you should have already grasps the basics, you should know what is expected and what you can produce in the way of winning nails.  However there are some extra little things which might work towards giving you the edge over the competition.
Before you start this journey you must be realistic.  It might seem harsh for me to say this,  but judge your own nails and be honest.  it is no good ‘hoping’ that the judges don't notice that your nails aren't perfect or that the judges will miss that your smile lines aren't crisp for example. These same judges have been in your shoes, and have done their fair share of hoping, good judges will be the toughest to ‘blindside’.  

So lets get down to some practical advice, 

The first and very important thing to do is to read and understand the rules.....they are written to help and guide you.  International competitions like the Olympics are run very differently from national competitions, worldwide nail techs are coming together to compete with their varied experiences, and its up to the head judge to develop a good criteria to follow which suits multiple nations.  Language and translation of specific terms might become confusing.  I think it is always worth finding out more information if your worried at all. 

If you have entered a competition before you are normally given a score sheet, this sheet is invaluable, look at the criteria the judges are scoring your nails against, finds out how many marks you can achieve with each criteria, for example if you get just 5 points for a polish but 25 points for floor judging...then make sure whilst your working you are aware of this and keep your working space tidy! the other thing to remember is these score sheets are a route map to improving your nails, as they will tell you where your skills need work.

Another good point to consider when entering is your model,  regardless if it is for pink and white or fantasy make sure she fits the bill, her nails are good and she is willing to be there and support you! Sometimes within international competitions it is hard to find models, but with the help of Face book and the right nail community you can pretty much ask a fellow tech to find you one suitable when you arrive.  I would advice paying them for their trouble, it always helps.

There is a wealth of tips and steps to help compete with pink and white but it is design nails and fantasy which are my passion and speciality.  If there is a theme try and think out side the box but ultimately keep it simple.  Over complicating the design will turn off the judges, but having a simple design which has detail and creative workmanship's is much better. But don’t mistake ‘keeping it simple’ for ‘less is more’.  Although you don’t want to overload your nail and designs you don’t want large empty spaces either.   Entering a design sculpt competition means your design nails need to include a good structure. Don't forget about you c curves and side walls, remember the nail has to be well formed as well as the design. Also think about your design story over the whole 10 nails, and not just apply a little flower on the ring finger for example. 

Gel nails are always let down by their shape and c curve. Trying to  get a great model who’s nails have the c curve you need is not always possible.  There are some other little tricks you can do to get the shape you need. Apply a thin clear base which you need to pinch before you apply your white, pinching will give you the c curve you need, do do this I use reversed tweezers or pinching clips, available from  Then apply your pink gel cleaning up the smile line with a clean brush and then your white gel application should be easy, butting up to the ready made smile line. The nicest and easiest white gel for this is INM bright white.  Generally in the arena it gets cold so Warm up your product in your hands if the gel viscosity to very thick!
To get a crisp Smile line use a separate detail brush or striper brush and for good curing a high wattage lamp at all times. For more definition use a brighter pink along the smile line and I would personally custom blend your pink and white, to suit the models skin tones.

Be prepared and don’t rush, When the competition starts, apply 1-2 nails onto the polished hand to overcome adrenaline rush. Remember you have plenty of time, and the mistakes happen when you rush! Prepare the natural  nails by doing a mini manicure the morning on the competition. Use 2 dappen dishes for liquid, one for the white and one for the pink/clear so it is clean and crisp.  When filing Use a new file for each hand, the grit changes as you go, a great way to get a constant look is to File all 10 nails the same way, for example side walls x10, free edge x 10, cuticle x 10.
Wipe the nails with acetone to remove and dissolve any residue dust before you buff.  If you do have any pits or air bubbles apply some brush on resin and once dry buff the surface, they will become invisible. For great polish application, clean up polish brush with acetone before you start, and re-dip into the polish.  

Pre crimp your tips to create beautiful c curve by using with Hot/cold water method, securing the tip around c curve tips.  When your applying a Tip  to the natural nail apply resign to tips and shake downwards to remove excess before application, the last thing you want is resin on the underside of the free edge. 


Entering is an enormous step for most nail technicians, stepping into an unknown arena can be daunting and scaring,  but just stop a moment and take a look around you at the seasoned competitors.  Watch their body language, they are relaxed and take things as they come, this is what it will be like for you too in time,  competing will benefit you as a nail professional, and it will become an enjoyable experience.  Enjoy every moment and learn from it. 

Saturday, 18 January 2014

That little voice inside….lies!

One of the things I have been doing lately is loosing a lot of weight and getting fit, and of course I  thank you for all your great comments and encouragement.  A lot of you are asking how I am doing it, what my secret is?  Well it is a combination of diet  - starting with the 5 to 2 fasting diet at the beginning of 2013, and then moving over to counting calories once I started working out.  I know it is a sin to say those words….’exercise regime' …especially if it has been a while since you last stepped into a gym, or like me, just to heavy to move your body in a remotely elegant way. I currently swim 3 times a week, work out between 1-2 hours doing cardio or resistance per day, walk the dog (time permitting) which accumulates to an average 1000 calorie burn per day. 

But those things are not the only reason, I have managed to  I have loose all this weight….., sure the activity is there and without that change my body would not change….however there is something far more important that many men and women forget to change when they start on their ‘new road to health and fitness. 

'I have finally got my mind right' with the help of an amazing therapist as there is no way I have the tools to deal with ‘head stuff’ alone.   

We all have it….that little voice inside us, which is set to manipulate and destroy us, encouraging failure so it can win and succeed. 

Don’t lie …..I know you have the very same thing…..that little voice in your head, which tell you that you really want that second piece of chocolate cake, or that lying in bed for an extra hour is far better for you than getting up and working out. 
I find this voice gets louder the more I ‘get better’ the healthier I am in body and mind…the soft dulcet tones start whispering in my ear.  “your hungry.." "why do you want to do that" "go and watch some TV"" your rubbish at that."" why you writing this bog…no one will read it!"  " this article sucks and you don’t make sense……”…  I can hear him persuading me that ‘his way’ is better…that my new chosen path, those gaols that I set for my self are rubbish…and I was always happy before…..’so chicken what has changed?’ he says….Yep he even pretends he is my friend.

The ultimate goal of this inner demon, distracting you from your true path is to destroy you, separate, isolate and finally kill you.. and any creativity you have!   Sounds serious right?… me if there is a little voice inside you saying, right now, ‘rubbish what is Sam on about ‘. that is him!   

Let me tell you what happened to me this week……
I have a work out injury at the moment, which means I have to alter my regime a little, I have also reached a plateau  with my weight loss!  I know all the logical answers, that my body is in recovery mode, that after Christmas break I have most likely  been the victim of calorie creeping, and with two injuries in the last few weeks, I have reduced the intensity of my workouts……..BINGO! Here he comes with his sneaky little ways telling me that its pointless, that I can’t loose any more weight, that I haven’t lost much anyway and look no different, it is pointless swimming cause it won’t be as effective as kick boxing…..bla… bla….bla……. seriously this is the conversation I have in my head most days. 

So I spent all day on Wednesday debating with my voice that I should go swimming, should I waste my time driving to the pool for a few mins of worthless exercise…….finally battling all my inner demons and the temptation of sitting at home with a cup of tea watching neighbours.  I got into the car and drove away…….it must of been about a mile down the road….when my ‘true self’ came alive, when I realised that the negative, pessimistic emotional state was not me really, I found my self on that car journey….and laughed out loud in the face of my voice…..’Ha I won!

So what has this got to do with my blog and nails…..nothing I suppose…..but what I a trying to say, using the example of my weight loss and fitness, is that my voice has been with me all my life highlighting the pro's and con's of everything in my life, as I suppose, has yours!  Well that very same voice is the one that wants to stop you succeeding in anything you do and in order for it to ‘win’ It will tell you 'you can’t do it', it will tell you that 'whats the point in starting you know your going to get frustrated and stop'…it will tell you that 'everything you do is rubbish and useless and so don’t even start….run to the store and grab and tub of Ben and Jerry’s instead'. 

If you currently hear your voice or  do not, rest assured you have one whispering or shutting at you.  Remember you have a choice, listen to it and do as it suggests, or ask your self…what is good for me. If you don’t hear your voice, it does not mean it is not there…any negative ‘I can’t do’ thoughts you have or those ‘excuses’ that come to mind….that's your voice….question it and see if there is an alternative. 

It is hard…….but look at me…I have lost 29 kg, I have dropped from a size 24/26 to a size 18/20. I can run up the stairs and leap onto my husband for a cuddle. I can stand for longer, I don’t feel as self conscious, I smile more, and I actually like the way I look (sometimes) I no longer hide…from life…..and I am not done yet. I have another 12 kg to loose…and I don’t have the muscle definition I want yet….so here is to the next 12 months…and the eventual control i have to tell my voice to ZIP IT. 

The science of skin colour and matching Polish.

Choosing the right nail colour for your skin a science…….!

The fairer or lighter the skin, the more pink undertones it will have. Offsetting this colour will calm those pinky tones down and draw out the cooler blue undertones.  So to create a warmer glow you can go for a beige or champagne polish, however I would use a golden shimmer over a nude or pink to achieve this as the browner the shade, the less attractive the hands will look. Avoid bright yellows and stick to colours with blue or pink undertones as fair skin will enhance them. Neons also work well but avoid yellow and dark green, a lighter more grass green will work.

Medium skin on the other hand has a warmer undertone - golden yellow base varnishes look great, working with corals, oranges and reds. Avoid the cooler blues, greys and silvers as this will create a less healthy look to your hands. Brights like greens would also work.

Darker skin can carry heavier shades and the richer the better, purples and deep juicy oranges, hot pinks and vibrant reds will not look out of place. The use of shimmers and glitters is not as wearable as on the fair to light and medium skin tones, due to their cooler tones.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Quilted Effect Step by Step

The nail art pen is not just a great tool for out lining and swirls. It can be a quick tool to create some brilliant optical illusions, check out this quilted effect, using just paint and the nail art pen. 

Paint the nail with gel polish, top coat and buff off shine. 
dip your nail art pen into the black paint and draw lines diagonal across the nail, in the same direction. 
do the same in the opposite direction. 
from corner to corner of each quire, draw small half moon.
repeat on the lower half of the square. 
then add a small amount of colour to add shadow and make the quilted effect more padding. 
you need to do is top coat. 

for more information visit

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Who inspires you?

This is a hard question to answer, and generally I don't answer it when asked. But for the purpose of reflection, and since lately I have been doing a lot of interviews, where this question keeps rearing its ugly head.......My answer is; 

Those that inspire me right now are those men and women who have built a successful business doing something that helps others grow. (a bit long winded I know) but hear me out......People who have struggled against the odds, and who have never stopped or been held back....... it is those people like  Richard Branson that I am inspired by. It is these self made successes which I can relate to, with their sheer determination and conviction  in an idea to make it succeed, or the fore thought to seize an opportunity when it presents.  

I am a creative person, and I do like business and I think I could go as far as to say I have a good acumen for it.  But it is not my passion.......especially when someone starts quoting figures.....well I am out of the door, before you can shake your calculator at me.  I have been self employed all my working life, and would not have it any other way, having owned a few different businesses...but each one reaches a stage of success..... and then I don't have the skills to take it further, or if I am honest the courage.  I have learnt not to have an emotional attachment to your business in order to make the tough decisions, and utilise the skills of those around you. you can not do it alone. it is my brain, my ideas and an essence of 'luck' which will bring success, but in order to execute it, I need to surround my self with people who have the skills to make those ideas a reality. 

Too many people confuse running a business with being talented at something, and providing a product or service.  For example, just because your good at nails or beauty does not mean you are going to be good at building your business...there is a difference... both need a level of learning to back them up.  So being a business woman, and being good at what you do to make money are two very different things. Almost daily I feel I am trying to juggle this dichotomy.  

Friday, 10 January 2014

Optical Illusion nail art

I wanted to create something other than flowers, butterflies and swirls with the nail art pen, and with the current trends for textures and backgrounds, these optical illusions designs are a clever way to create show stopper nails, without much effort. All you need is a nail art pen, and some black paint. For the purpose of the step by step I have kept the back ground white. 

  1. Paint the nail with gel polish, top coat and buff off shine. 
  2. dip your nail art pen into the black paint and draw lines diagonal across the nail, in the same direction. 
  3. do the same in the opposite direction. 
  4. within those squares, use the nail art pen to create smaller squares in the bottom right portion. 
  5. for your final application, draw a line from the corner of your smaller black squares up to the corner of its larger one. this will create a box effect. then all you need to do is top coat. 

for more information on the nail art pen, steps and films visit
also our Facebook page has a wealth of inspiration.

5 min interview for Scratch

Last October I was interviewed my Scratch for the on line publication; this is what I said.

What drives you to be the best nail artist you can be?page1image3752 page1image3912
The competition drives me, I am very aware that there are amazing nail techs out there doing awesome work, and I wouldn’t even dream to compare to them, but I do try and develop my own style and every design I do, i have in the back of my mind, can i teach this?
Where does your inspiration come from when creative new nail art ideas/products?
The industry is my main source of inspiration, but i am also very aware of the mood and the colours that surround me. I look at what is out there and available right now, and think how can this be improved, what would make my life easier as a nail tech and nail educator.
What did it feel like to win a Scratch Star as Industry Innovator for your company Jealous Cow LTD (Be Creative)?
Wow.....this is a fabulous feeling, I wanted it really badly, and didn't think it could happen. We are new to the industry as a whole as a brand, so when be creative won industry innovator, it felt perfect, because that title is precisely what we want to be, industry innovators.
What do you do in your spare time to relax?
I don’t have much spare time right now, but when I do I love spending time with my family, but as they grow up, I enjoy going out with John my husband, finding nice places to eat or walk with the dog. I like to work out and swim, but most of all sitting and chatting with my family is the best down time i can ask for.
What is your ultimate goal in the nail world?
No this is a question I am not sure of, I have never had a plan, and always gone with the flow, sometimes when I take a moment to turn around and look at where I have come from I am amazed a the twists and turns in my journey. As for where i am heading, I would like to spend more time developing, and seeing nail professionals use my products to do amazing things. 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Marble with gel - steps

I realised  have a host of steps which I have dotted around the Internet, on various social media pages, my website or just sat collecting dust in my drop box, some of them have been published and some never seen the light of day.  When I reviewed the amount of steps I have placed on here in comparison to my back catalogue collecting dust, I despair at my lack of fore thought. I hope to be including a few more over the next coming weeks, and make up for this digression.

For this design I used gel paints


I find a lot of people say they know how to marble, but when we come down to it, we end up making a big hot mess. To Marble there is a few golden rules to think of.

  • Always drag your brush in the same direction, do not go horizontal and then vertical. don't make cris crosses or spirals. allow the lines you pull drag the colour, and those spirals will form on their own. 
  • Stick with just 3 colours, from the same part of the colour wheel, to make it the most appealing marble. this is will create a soft effect. then use white to make it pop, this white will also blend with the other colours to give you an additional shade. 
  • apply liberal amounts of gel, and then pull off the gel as you drag your brush. wipe after each pull through. you will end up with a thin coat, but the excess gel, will allow the colours to merge and blend
So all that said, step 1 - create a marble finish on your nail. For this i am using gel paints form be Creative, they are amazing for blending, as the pigments are so concentrated, the colours just melt together with ease. they also do not self level, which means your not playing catch up with your gel, you can apply your gel to 4 of your nails and complete the whole hand before you need to place it under the lamp. 


Cap your marble with clear gel and then file and finish. we are creating the nail, with structure and strength at this stage so we can apply the design over the top. 

Outline the design, using the 'orange brush'  from be creative. dipped into the gel paint. the reason why I use gel paint in stead of regular nail art paint is to create a more flexible medium to work with, I can stretch the gel and make my lines crisp.  but this does not stop you using the nail art pen and paint.

for more information CLICK HERE, 

What remains is to simply fill in one half of the area, leaving little holes in the black. Cure the nail and then top coat. 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Organised Chaos

I set aside a few hours yesterday to work through some new colour collections and check out the Big box of samples that came over the Holidays. I was very excited, there is nothing nicer than pulling out bags and bags and bags...... OMG....and bags of colours, different shades of the same colour, different particle sizes of the same colour, some with glitter some matt, some satin.......oh dear, this just might take a little longer than a few hours...

3 hours later......and my OCD on over drive

So with my hands looking like a Rainbow fairy has thrown up on them, glitter and colour particles floating all over my work area, and I am still looking at more than half my packets un-opened. I NEED STRUCTURE..... this is chaos, I need to work out a system, but in my head I am thinking,
"I don't have time to sit and work out a system......I don't have time to paint a whole heap of tips so I can try out this little lot on them" On top of this I have my 'inner creative goddess' doing summersaults and high fiving me...singing in my ear ideas and suggestions of  NEW collections, combinations and Design possibilities.
So come 7pm I ended up packing away my mess, and pouring myself a long tall glass of be begin again this morning.

Big sigh....Rainbow land here I come......I love my job.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014


We often end the year with a big sigh.....well I say 'we', I mean me!  But I hope I am not alone in this comparison. The year ends with a big fat thump on the sofa, the doors of the office close a few days before Christmas with an expectation of a long rest to recover and recoup the madness which was 2013........but then I look at the corner of my living room and think, shit I have to put the tree up, and wrap all the on line shopping boxes piled up under the bed,  and get the Christmas food shopping for those throngs of relatives who only visit once a year.

Phaaaaaa Rest you say.....think again my friend, it is time to switch heads like good old Worzel Gummage, and change from being sexy entrepreneur, sophisticated business woman in heels to Raggedy Ann in crocks,  apron and shiny squares of cello-tape  attached to my not so snug derrière.

So lets start again, Christmas is over and New Year has chimed, I spend the 1st day of the year, munching my way through the left overs and unwanted chocolates, so that I can start back on my healthy eating plan without the guilt of throwing away anything. I have just a few more hours before midnight strikes and I once again turn from Cinders to my perseved elegant working self.

What happened, all those things I wanted to do in this short break, I am looking back over the last couple of weeks of hibernating and shake my head in despair. I need a 'break' to get over the Christmas Break.  But in a way I am glad to be back, the structure is back in place, the rules are once again followed and I know where I am and what I need to achieve. There are boundaries and guidelines to follow when at work, which tend not to be in place at home. I  am now sitting here with a big sigh and a big smile ready to work wonders at my key board, or create magic with my nail art pen.

So watch out 2014, there is some exciting things on the horizon, I have in my fist a list of resolutions, goals and a new  boundaries in place. I am ready ......are you?