What is Your “Go To” Color?

Beauty, Cosmetic, Personal Care

I believe that we all have a few staples in our beauty routines which help us get through the day. For me, my staples are my teas, and a really good moisturizer. When I was a traveling nail technician, I used to service a client who would always ask me about a certain color called cotton candy. At the time, I had no idea what cotton candy was or what it would even look like because in my mind cotton candy was a texture, not necessarily a color. She gave me some golden advice when it came to being a traveling nail technician. She said, “it’s always good to have a few staples,” since I have to travel. In fact, I used to carry dozens of nail polishes that would take up space and eventually became heavy. That advice was solid because from that day forward my travel kit grew lighter. I began to only carry my staple polishes.

I later learned that “cotton candy” used to be the name of a color from a brand called Sation. Sation was a popular nail polish brand in the early 90’s. I found “Altar Ego” by OPI which was one of the prettiest iridescent hues that I’d ever seen. Needless to say, it became my staple.

My sister loves her pinks and reds and she would always chose one of the two in whatever shade she liked. There are so many shades of red into pink that this was a tough time to get a few staples in the color family. I found a beautiful cream red from OPI called “OPI Red.” This was also the color I used during my state board practical exam. The cream red shows all of the imperfections in a nail after a maniure. My go to pink was another OPI color called, “Elephantastic Pink.”

As I learned my client base I found that my ages ranged from 17-60 and I had to have nail polishes that would appeal to everyone, which initially, posed as a challenge. Luckily, I was a traveling nail technician around the time when a perfect nude was the in thing. This was a relief because I carried a lot of nude polishes from all brands. I had Gel II, OPI, Color Club, and Fingerpaints. All of which were wonderfully pigmented.

As a nail tech, we are responsible for staying in the loop, offering the next best thing, and being adaptable. I firmly believe in having color staples, especially if you’re a traveling tech. Even if you’re starting out as a salon owner, have a few staples when starting until you know your clientele well enough to predict their color preferences.

Thanks for reading,



Story Time: Don’t Diss the Dip Powder

Beauty, Cosmetic, Personal Care

Hey Good People, an image started swarming my news feeds regarding the cleanliness of the dip powder nails technique. I found humor in knowing that the nail technicians who were protesting the dip powder have never tried it (says a lot). The image in the video is that of an infected nail and a finger with open cuts being dipped into the nail powder. Some nail tech’s were stating that the system is cheap and unsanitary to use. At first glance, this could be an alarming post, however, as a professional who has been performing this service for almost two years and have never experienced this occurrence, there is no need for the uproar.

The dip powder nail system is an alternative to the traditional acrylic nail system. Both systems are still acrylic systems but are applied using two different methods. The traditional acrylic system consists of a monomer (liquid) and a polymer (powder) which bind together to create a hardened substance that forms over the fingernail. The dip powder system consists of a gel resin that reacts to an activator once dipped in the polymer (powder). The cost for this system ranges between $15-$50 depending on the brand and the volume of which you need. These costs add up and fast. When I would purchase monomer and polymer for traditional acrylic nails, my price ticket would be roughly $70 after i’ve purchased the right brand and the accessories. As I switched to only dip powder, the price ticket was relatively the same.

As the argument states, “this is why I don’t do dip powder nails,” I can not help but wonder, why? I’ll admit when I first learned about the dip I said the same thing. I said it was dirty because the client has to dip their fingers in the same dipping powder as the next client. But, don’t we use the same fingernail polish on different clients? In fact, we use the same base, color, and top coat, all day, on the same client; unless the client purchases and provides their own system.

The same with traditional acrylic monomer and polymer. The same brush that touches one client, touches the liquid, the powder, and then another client. If we want to be technical about one system then we should be technical about them all.

Thanks for reading,


Nail Tutorial: Dip Powder Nails

Beauty, Cosmetic, Personal Care

ANC Dip Powder System
Tammy Taylor “Heart of Gold”

Music: I do not own the rights to this music used for display purposes only

Song: “In Common” by Alicia Keys (Jako Diaz Remix)

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E-Mail: nailsbyrah@gmail.com

License Renewal Process and Continuing Education Units (CEU)

Beauty, Cosmetic, Personal Care

Hey Good People, it’s Nails By Rah, and being a newbie to the State of Georgia during the renewal process, I wanted to share some of the things I came across while learning how the industry works here. If you are a licensed professional in the State of Georgia you are required to complete at least five (5) continuing education courses (CE’s, CEU’s, etc…). That’s right, if you cut hair, do hair, do nails, or all of the above you must complete these courses.

A few weeks ago I got a lovely letter and e-mail from the Department of State Licensing Division letting me know that it was time to renew my professional license. Yes, two years flew by so quickly! This is new for me because my license in New York is good for five years and well, that process was cut and dry. Georgia is similar but seems to enforce the CEU requirement.

I know school is over with; however, you can never stop learning in this field or in life, ever.  The only way this is waived is if this is your first time renewing your license. That means if you graduated the year prior and had been licensed in that same year, your first time renewing, you are not required to have completed the CEU’s. I wanted to be clear because I interpreted this as if this was my first time renewing in a new state then the units would be waived, “fake news” ha ha! Of the five units required there must be three units completed in a course on health and safety (http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/licensing/plb/16) and the remaining two must be in a course that has been registered and approved by the board prior to engagement. For example, if you wish to attend an industry or trade show it must be board approved before counting your attendance as a continuing education unit.  A list can be found on the website above.

*Be sure to visit your state’s Department of State Licensing Division to check the criteria in your area because the credits may vary by state.

Once you have taken your course from one of the approved institutions you are all set to renew. This may be done online and must be done a month prior to your expiration date. Mine expires in August and I am renewing today! The online process is simple, log-in, renew, pay, and keep your receipt for your records.

As always, thank you for checking in and be sure to follow me on most social media platforms.
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E-mail: nailsbyrah@gmail.com

Thanks for reading,


Nail Tutorial Part I: Removal (3 Weeks Old)

Beauty, Cosmetic, Personal Care

Hey Good People! I couldn’t give you the actually dip method without showing you how to remove it. No worries, I’ve got you covered. The removal process is designed to be as painless as possible. I mention in Part II that some people do not care for the drill. Well, there is good news and bad news. The good news is, the drill is only as painful as the person operating it chooses to be. The bad news is, I still use the drill to demonstrate that I am not like other nail tech’s. The removal process can be fairly easy if done correctly. For the sake of space on the video, I took a thirty minute process and reduced it to three minutes. I like to mention that so there isn’t a misconception that a removal can be completed in such a short time.

Here is what you’ll need:

  1. 100/180 Grit File
  2. 100% Acetone
  3. Aluminum foil (divided into ten finger size squares)
  4. Cotton
  5. Diamond drill bit

The dip powder method is designed to last three to four weeks. It may go longer but we never recommend that due to the increase in risk for breaking, lifting, etc. So, it’s been three weeks and you’re ready to remove your old set of dip powder, what do you do? Make an appointment with me! (Joking but serious) Okay, so, you start by using the diamond bit to thin a couple layers of the dip powder. Be sure to use quick motions over multiple areas of the nail avoiding drill in one spot too long. This aids in preventing rings of fire or the burning sensation that everyone (me included) hates.

After you have removed most of the color and have little base left on the nail, take small pieces of cotton and soak them with acetone to place on the nail. Wrap each one with aluminum foil to hold the cotton piece in place. The aluminum does two things, it holds the cotton on the nail and acts as a heat conductor to help the acetone actively penetrate the product. Wait for about five to ten minutes before removing the aluminum foil, if time permits.

When five to ten minutes have passed by pinch the tip of the aluminum foil and gentle pull the cotton/aluminum foil mixture off of the nail. This removes the product. It is okay if some remains on the nail, that is actually quite normal. If the removal process takes the product off completely, great. If not, that’s great too, which is why we have a 100/180 grit nail file to remove any that may not have come off. In this case, gently remove the remaining product with the nail file. If the product doesn’t peel off with the nail file, wrap it again, and let it soak until it comes off with the cotton.

Another instance may occur if you wait too long to take the aluminum foil off. The cotton ball can dry on the nail but again, now worries! I’ve got you covered. In the event that the cotton ball dries up before you can properly remove it, gently peel of the aluminum foil and reapply the acetone and a new piece of aluminum. Let this sit for a few moments and then try again.

As always, my hope is that you’re successful with these tutorials if you’re trying them at home.

Thanks for reading,


Nail Tutorial Part II: Dip Powder Nails (ANC)

Beauty, Cosmetic, Personal Care

Hey Good People, I try to keep up as much as I can with the tutorials. This latest tutorial is part two in a two part series for removing and reapplying dip powder nails. I found it easiest to speed up the process because realistically this takes about an hour from start to finish. Luckily, I was able to reduce both sections into a total 8 minutes combined. Here is what you will need:

  1. 100/180 Grit Nail File
  2. Sander Bit (Fine)
  3. ANC Base Powder
  4. ANC Color Powder (Your choice but I used Tulip #84)
  5. ANC 4-Step Dip System (Prep, Gel Base, Activator, and Finishing Gel)
  6. Buffer
  7. Cuticle Oil (Optional)

First, after carefully removing the old product you can shape your nail and carefully push back the cuticle with a sander bit, something like a dry manicure. Once you have completed this on all ten fingers, follow up with step 1 in the four step ANC system, labeled “1. Prep.” This step is critical because it removes any oils from the nail plate and helps the dip powder stick to the nail without lifting. Allow this to dry on your nails for a few seconds before proceeding to step two.

Second, once you have properly prepped your nails, do not touch or rub them to check for smoothness, this will reapply any oils that may have been taken off with step 1. Apply a thin layer of the gel base, labeled “2. Gel Base,” to three-quarters of the nail leaving space before the cuticle for the remaining two steps. Dip the nail at an angle into the base powder then dust any residue. After you have completed the base on all ten fingers you are ready to begin with your color. The second dip is dedicated to your color of choice. Apply another layer of gel base leaving a smaller space before the cuticle and dip the nail at an angle into the colored powder. Repeat this step placing the gel base as close to the cuticle as possible without touching the cuticle. If you miss some areas it is okay to repeat this step with a thin layer of gel base and powder until you get the desired look.

Third, after you have completed each layer of gel base apply step three which is labeled, “Step 3. Activator.” This step is necessary to try and solidify what was done in step two. This step allows you to file and shape the product over your nail into the desired shape. At this point it is also necessary to remove any imperfections that may have occurred while dipping in step two. For example, if the powder gets on the cuticle or any parts of the skin around the nail. Use your file to gently remove the product from these areas. Once you have filed and shaped the product, you may use your sander bit and smooth out any imperfections and follow up with a buffer. Be sure not to sand or buff too much of the product off or you will have to repeat steps two and three.

Finally, after you have smoothed all of the imperfections, should there be any, and buffed the nail, reapply the activator and wait for three minutes. This step is just as critical as step one, if not more critical because if you apply the finishing gel too soon, it could interfere with the drying process, and destroy the bristles of the finishing gel’s brush. Luckily, there is a brush cleaner available for purchase for these instances but, the goal is to not have to use the brush cleaner. After you have waited for three minutes you may apply a thin layer of step four which is labeled, “Step 4. Finishing Gel.” Be sure to have just enough product between the brush and the nail to avoid streaking and uneven dry patches. Once you have completed this step, repeat it, and wait for two minutes before applying the cuticle oil.

My hope is always that you’re successful in these tutorials if you are trying them at home. Let me know how it worked out for you!

Thanks for reading,


You’re Fired: We’re Going to Have to Let You Go

Beauty, Cosmetic, Personal Care

The following events were key factors in our decision. Your last couple of appointments were no shows, which now require a deposit, you are rude, and bring down the morale of the salon, making a few of our nail technician’s uncomfortable. Though we appreciated your business we can not have this kind of behavior in our space, so we must part ways.

That’s right, sometimes we have to fire the client.

As a salon professional, we are responsible for more than producing beauty. We must keep our books balanced, inventory in stock, marketing, continue our education, keep up with trends, product recalls, and most importantly we have bills to pay. When we schedule a client and the client no shows, we then require a non-refundable deposit for all future appointments. We do this to recover a portion of the money that we turn away to honor an appointment. Yes, it does become costly when we make our day based upon our salon schedule and the day goes awry due to no shows. Even though the salon may work by appointments, walk-ins are accepted occasionally to recoup from a no-show.

To the rude client, the salon is a safe space for all those who may be having a good day, an okay day, and even a terrible day. We have a deep understanding that every day may be different however, to come into a salon with demands and then haggle the price is rude first and disrespectful second. For example, we had a gap in the schedule to accommodate a walk-in. A woman comes in, in a hurry, and needs a manicure and polish change in thirty minutes in order to catch a flight. This flight was at an airport which was about thirty minutes south from where the salon was located. I greeted her and she made no eye contact with me, demanding services, as she looked directly for the colors. Before I could explain that we work by appointment she looks irritated that I wasn’t moving fast enough to get the items I needed to perform her services. My boss steps in and explains that the client would need a pedicure because it is unsanitary to do a polish change on toes that have not been pedicured within the last week. It is unsanitary due to the cuticle build up and possible bacteria that may have accumulated on the toes between visits. Well, the client still wasn’t please but demanded to be seen anyway and said it with attitude. We all wanted to turn her away but we still accommodated her by having two nail technicians work on her. As she sits in the pedicure spa she begins to make comments that there were no Vietnamese people working in our salon, strike one, while she inspected if we used the plastic covers in the pedicure stations, strike two. Each interruption was met with a response from the owner who was stating our sanitation and sterilization processes. The client began to haggle the price stating that she would not pay the full amount for her services since she was not receiving the full service. Take note that she decided not to get polish on her nails because she was in a hurry, strike three. I put my tools down and looked at her as my boss asked her to leave. We had to let the client go. Often times all money is not good money and you have the right to refuse mistreatment from a client as much as a client has the right to refuse mistreatment from a salon.

Dear fired clients,

In your next salon experience abide by their rules, enjoy the experience, and please pay for your services upon completion.

We enjoy what we do and with understanding and mutual respect we can all, client and professional, have a wonderful encounter in the salon. There are multiple moving parts in our daily operations and yes, the client does come first but, there is also someone else who must be a priority. That person is the professional.

Thanks for reading,


Story Time: Who Inspired You to Become A Nail Technician?

Beauty, Cosmetic, Personal Care


When I was very young, about six or seven, I had a neighbor, Miss Debbie, who lived at the end of my street. I used to play with her son Desmond and we would run up and down the street and I remember always seeing Miss Debbie on her porch fanning her freshly painted fingernails. At that moment I knew exactly that I wanted to do nails.

Miss Debbie converted her front porch’s sun-room into a nail salon. She had a salon desk to do nails, polish racks on the walls, and a small waiting area to service a few clients at a time. I thought it was awesome to see this kind of operation in her home. It was also the first time I smelled monomer, the liquid that binds polymer to form acrylic nails (for my non-tech folks). I grew to love the smell and the feeling that came from changing a woman’s life after a manicure. Admit it, a good manicure can change your life!

That following Christmas I began to ask for nail sets. The Toys’R’Us catalog was usually circled with barbie dolls and board games but this year I wanted an Easy-Bake Oven and a nail set. On Christmas morning I opened about five barbie dolls, some cat slippers, pajama’s, an Easy-Bake Oven, and my nail set. I got glitter and stickers everywhere. For the next few Christmases I got nail sets and eventually graduated to press on nails in middle school. By middle school the pressure to get acrylics was on because other girls my age were getting their nails done. My parents were not having that.

In college I took a semester off to figure out my life. What was my purpose? I had done nails on campus to earn some extra money and decided to take a break during the second semester of my junior year. My father was disappointed but relieved that I had a plan in place. This of course came after a conversation we had that brought me to tears because I misunderstood what he was trying to say to me about complacency. I reached out to Miss Debbie to ask her about nails and what she did to get started so that I had an idea of what I would be getting into. By now it had been years since I’d seen Miss Debbie but she was so nice to respond and offer me some golden advice. Once I graduated from nail school I had to take the written exam and the practical exam, both New York State Professional Licensing exams.

Most salons only hired within the family which happened to be Asian owned. I tried salons in my neighborhood, a salon that I used to frequent as a client, and finally a new salon that was opening on the city’s east side near a college which also happened to be fifteen-minutes from my campus. It was called The Nailary. I cut my teeth on the salon industry as a new nail tech in the Asian owned salon and I was very thankful that the owner took a chance on me. Please see my previous post for that story.

I say all of this to say thank you. Miss Debbie was a black women who did nails and it was important to see that representation because when I got into the industry it was very difficult to get started in a salon. Thank you Miss Debbie for being an inspiration.

Thanks for reading,


First Day On The Job


Seven years ago, I started my first salon job working in a small shop near my hometown’s college campus. My first day was slightly overwhelming due to the fact that prior to me starting, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be working in an Asian salon. Nonetheless, I was grateful for the opportunity. My mother used to say, “If you can conceive it then you can achieve it.”  I ended up starting two weeks after my original start date because when I arrived on my original start date, the salon wasn’t open. I waited for fifteen minutes, half-way eager and half-way defeated. I gave one more minute and decided to drive home in tears. Honestly, I cried from my nerves. Let’s be real, the nail salon industry is dominated by Asian’s so as a young black woman trying to penetrate an industry such as this, I was worked up. After talking to my dad, because I was still living at home during the time, he said to me, “Well Babycakes (the only man to call me that and get away with it), you worked so hard to get your license, at least go and make your money back, and if you still don’t like it, there’s still college.” I don’t know, there was just something about the way my dad said those words that lit a fire in me. He had a way of giving cautionary advice that was slightly old-school but effective.

Two weeks later, I mustered up the courage to call the owner back. She reluctantly offered me a new start date because she said I didn’t “show up” the first time. I literally jumped for joy and put my big girl pants back on to go for what I worked so hard for, a chance. My first day working at the salon I met three other nail tech’s who were about my age and very welcoming. I did a pedicure demo on the youngest one and learned that the second oldest and I had mutual friends. I talked too much and slipped up confessing that I used to have a crush on her boyfriend. (Salon Tip 1: Listen way more than you speak, unless it’s solicited advice that you’re giving) Luckily, she was cool about it and we laughed when she said, “Oh I know Jonathan, he’s my boyfriend.” I met another nail tech later on in the day that was just like me, black! I felt relief knowing that I wasn’t necessarily the only black girl working at the salon.

In those first two weeks, I was thrown to the wolves. I started out just doing pedicures and manicures. The owner made me conquer my fear of gel. I had a misconception about gel, even as a licensed professional. I learned the difference between gel polish and gel nail enhancements. Both require being cured, however, the polish doesn’t require as much labor as the enhancements. I was gaining confidence until I did a fullest which took me too long. My hands started shaking because it was close to closing and there were still clients waiting to be serviced. The owner took over and I felt the need to cry but I took a deep breath and serviced the next client who simply needed a soak-off.  That one experience caused a dry patch because the client I took too long on, talked so much trash about me to her friends, who frequented the salon. The girl’s even called themselves warning other clients about me. True, I was fresh out of school and still learning the ropes and yes, why would you spend your money being serviced by a novice nail tech? However, without them knowing the kind of deeply rooted hatred for themselves they had, they couldn’t understand the value of having a black woman working in a nail salon. In my city, that was almost unheard of, because most salons only hired family. I felt defeated because the girls were in the salon every two weeks religiously, eyeing what I did and giving me the side eye. I felt like an exhibit and became self-conscious. Every night I’d go home making the minimum. My family supported me by coming in and getting their nails done and even made standing appointments with me for every two weeks which I am thankful for even today.

I saw how much money I could potentially make and strapped on my big girl shoes to match my big girl pants. Did you know that on average, a nail-technician who works full-time in a salon can make upwards of 30k a year? Simple math, imagine you’re booked for manicures all day. You work 8-10 hour days in the salon. A manicure roughly costs $16, not including nail art. Multiply that by 8 hours of work. Got it? Good. Now multiply that by 5 days of work or more if you’re like me and only take one day off to regroup. Got it? Great, now how much money did you make that week? Now multiply that by 4 weeks. How much did you make that month? Multiply that by 12. That’s how much you’ve made that year. Luckily, I worked for a salon that paid hourly, commission, and tips. Starting out I relied heavily on hourly because I wasn’t getting many clients. All it took was one design, to change that.

During the week, it’s typically slower in the shop. I was next in the rotation and a woman came in who needed a fill-in and some repairs. I was still scarred from the last acrylic set but I had my big girl shoes on this day and decided that I had to earn some serious cash. Before we began to polish she asked me if I did designs. I did but nothing fancy. She showed me a picture and I was inspired to test the waters. It took about 45 minutes to do her acrylic and another 30 for the nail art (see pic below.) She loved it and when I tell you I was so proud of myself, I couldn’t hold it.

@nailsbyrah, 2012

All it took was that one client giving me an unbiased chance. I started to get booked for more acrylic and even people who wanted gel polish with designs. I started making big girl money. My once empty chair was now filled with a client every 30-45minutes. The girl’s who talked about me ended up sitting my chair at various moments throughout the month. One gave me a hard time, even requesting that the owner polish and design her nails once I was finished laying the acrylic. She then showed the owner a picture of a design she wanted from the Instagram page. The owner had heard the girl giving me a hard time and smiled when she saw the picture and said, “Oh, Rasheedah did those.” The look on that girl’s face was priceless.

In my first salon experience, I had to develop thick skin, a quick mind to calculate services as they are added on, and a sense of style. As a nail technician, your nails should at-least stay manicured if not done up with nail enhancements. It’s free advertisement. I also learned people. Often times we settle for a single story. Being in a salon allows you to view multiple angles. I say all that to say, never give up. Everything that you do right down to the moment you make a firm decision to do it will be a battle. Adversity builds character and if you truly desire something, nothing will stop you from obtaining it.

Thanks for reading,