Nail Technician Jobs
All cosmetology programs offer training in manicures and pedicures, and some cosmetologists perform these services in conjunction with hair-related services, while others choose to specialize in nails. Cosmetologists who specialize in nails are sometimes called “nail technicians.” They work exclusively on nails, and offer manicures, pedicures, polish changes, nail art, and artificial nails, sometimes called “nail extensions” to their clients.
The services of a skilled nail tech are always in high demand. Not only is the service relaxing for the client, but it can also be somewhat difficult for them to perform the services on themselves (think of painting the nails on your right hand with your left hand!) so they are usually more than willing to pay for a good manicure or pedicure in a salon or spa.
Manicures typically consist of shaping the nails, soaking the client’s hands to soften the skin so that the cuticles can be pushed back, massaging the client’s hands and arms with a moisturizing cream or lotion, and painting the nails with nail polish. For clients with extremely dry, calloused hands, a cosmetologist may recommend specialized services such as a paraffin treatment. Here are the basic steps included in a paraffin treatment:
First, a sanitizing agent is applied to the client’s hands, fingers and wrists to remove all surface bacteria. Skin, nail, or aromatherapy oil is then massaged into the client’s hands, fingers and wrists, and each hand is dipped gently and slowly into the warm paraffin, held for an instant, and removed. The wax is allowed to ‘set’, then dipped again, repeating several times. Each hand is then wrapped with a plastic liner, covered with a terrycloth glove, and the paraffin is allowed to remain on the hands for five minutes. After the terrycloth gloves, the plastic liner, and the remaining paraffin are removed, the client is left with soft, smooth hands. A very popular and pampering service!
Pedicures follow roughly the same sequence as a manicure, but the work is done on the client’s feet. The popularity of sandals and open-toed shoes and the decrease in the popularity of hosiery have greatly increased the demand for pedicures. For the ultimate in pampering and comfort, many salons and spas have special pedicure chairs with built-in heated back massagers.
Nail technicians who are especially artistic may choose to specialize in nail art, which can involve anything from several polish colors, decals and nail accessories that are adhered to the nails, and even air-brushing to create special effects. While these services were once requested for special occasions, many clients now wear nail art regularly, creating yet another opportunity for the resourceful, creative cosmetologist who enjoys working with nails.
Artificial nails, acrylic nails, or “nail extensions,” are also available to clients who do not have long, strong, natural nails, or just do not want to wait for them to grow! Cosmetologists who perform nail extensions have usually taken specialized classes in applying and maintaining artificial nails. The development of new materials and application techniques are making nail extensions easier to wear and more popular with clients.
Nail techs who work with artificial nails use materials such as fiberglass, silk, acrylic, and gel, which make nail extensions lighter, stronger, and more natural looking. Although artificial nails may not survive especially harsh work environments and unlimited abuse, they are very durable for everyday wear (although a good nail technician will usually advise their nail clients to wear gloves when doing housework or gardening!) and last anywhere from three to six months, depending upon the rate of growth of the client’s natural nails. The area nearest to the cuticle where the nail grows needs to be “filled” every two weeks or so to blend in the growth, keep the nail extensions strong, and prevent fungal infections which can occur if dirt and bacteria get between the natural nail and the extension.
Cosmetologists who specialize in nail extensions have several things in common: extensive training, a steady hand, lots of practice, and steady clients needing “filling,” a new set of nails, or replacement of a broken tip. The high-maintenance nature of nail extensions and the clients who wear them keep a nail tech’s schedule full, which is why many cosmetologists choose to specialize in this service.
As with all the services performed by cosmetologists, it is important for nail technicians to take as many continuing education classes in new products and techniques as they can. By staying educated, they will keep their skills sharp and be able to bring fresh and new ideas to their clients.