#NailTechNailedIt - The Darker Side of Nail Tech School

As promised in my last post, this post is going to be about the less than glamorous experiences I've had in nail tech school. I'm finishing up quite quickly, and I've learned a lot, through the good and the bad.

Disclaimer: No one's experience in nail school will be the same as their friend's or the same as mine. Experiences are what you make of them, as an individual. But no matter who you are, you can always learn and grow from them. I certainly have.

Here are some of those experiences.

Weight gain

Our school is surrounded by delicious and easy fast food restaurants, including McDonald's, Little Cesear's Pizza, an assortment of Mexican food joints, and a stand that sells unbelievably tasty bacon-wrapped hot dogs.

It's really no surprise then, that I've packed on some unwanted pounds. Couple that with the lack of time to set aside for exercise, and I've begun to feel like a real tub o' lard.

While it's easy enough to say that I'll pack a lunch, or grab a healthier option instead, it's too easy to fall for these temptations when you're so busy running around, performing services, taking tests, and rushing through lunch time to start on a new client. Sometimes, with the chaos of the salon, girls don't even see food until it's time to go home.

But on those days that I do take the time to blend up a smoothy or fix a chicken salad, I feel more energized and enthusiastic. I know that working in a real salon will only bring bigger challenges, but feeling this way isn't worth it.

Falling Prey to the Easy Way Out

Not everyone at school cares to learn the right, proper way to do things, and corners are definitely cut. It's a terrible reality of going to school. The mentality runs something like this:

"If so-and-so says that so-and-so did such-and-such to finish this-or-that, then why should I have to do it the long way?"

Don't let that mentality plague your mind. Especially when the health and safety of you and your clients is on the line. Take the time to learn things the right way, and ask questions to clear up your confusion. Otherwise, you're not going to be getting clients, and those that you do get, won't be happy with you. Just the other day, I witnessed a client who was more than peeved by her poor service, all of which would've been prevented if the tech had done it properly. Learn it the right way! Otherwise, you'll wind up making enemies among those that are taking the time to do it correctly, and they might just be your boss some day.

Rumors, Drama and Cattiness

This is probably the worst and most prevalent experience I've seen in nail school, and any cosmetologist would probably agree. Thankfully, my smaller night classes saw only a fraction of what the regular sessions experienced, but hearing about it put me on edge nonetheless.

I'll admit it, I participated in some smack talking behind backs. Only here's the thing...I never felt good about it. So why do it? Think of the image you're portraying by doing that, and put a stop to it right away. It's never worth it, and you're only perpetuating a negative image across your coworkers.


From day one, I was warned to always keep my belongings close, and my personal items locked up. With so many expensive products and tools floating around, things go 'missing'. My school's been experiencing so much dishonesty and costly thievery that they've installed cameras pointing in every direction. Knowing you're being watched is an awful, "big brother is watching" kind of feeling, and knowing you're working with someone who doesn't give a second thought to swiping hundreds of dollars of products leaves a terrible taste in your mouth.

Crying...So Much Crying

I've never cried while in nail school. I came into it more prepared with my background in nails, so lessons weren't as difficult for me.

However, the gallons of tears I've seen coming from other girls is pretty astonishing. Some cry because of how clients treat them, some for how students treat them. Some cry in frustration, others in pure anger. Several ladies were pregnant, so I can't imagine what their hormones were doing to them the whole time.

So if you're a crier, or set off easily by other criers, get yourself emotionally ready. The ups and downs are a true test, and how you emotionally handle it is read and remembered by everyone.

Leaving a Fellow Student Behind

Comradery and teamwork isn't inherent in nail school. At least not in mine.

There's always something to do around the salon, and it's not necessarily something you are responsible for. For example, if, on the way back to her station, a fellow student spills some of the water from her manicure bowl onto the floor, she should be the one to clean it up. But what if she doesn't? Someone who sees it, would presumably wipe it up on their way by.

Unfortunately, that's not the reality. Too many times it's just left there until it evaporates, or until the person who's assigned to that cleaning duty must clean it.

This kind of thinking creates a terrible atmosphere and an inefficient, clunky machine held together with duct tape. Build your own personal skills, and help others around you. Whether it's suggesting a quicker (AND proper) way to do things, setting up a station for someone who's swamped, or just spending your free time keeping busy, it makes a difference.


The road to becoming a nail tech is not easy, and there's sinkholes at every turn, waiting to swallow you up if you're not dedicated and tough. But if you stick with it, and work to better yourself and your skills, it'll pay off in spades.

Be better, be braver, and be intelligent. Your future will thank you for it.


  1. I experienced most of these problems in college and had to leave because of it but im glad that I managed to get my level 2 and now I can teach myself instead

  2. The cattiness/drama factor is probably the thing that concerns me most, because I HATE that sh*t and, because of the area I live, probably 80%-90% of the people in the classes will speak a different language, so I know the crap-talk will really fly. Although I figured the night sessions wouldn't be as susceptible to it because the majority of the people taking night classes are slightly older adults with full-time jobs who are there to work and learn, not gossip and mess around. AintNobodyGotTimeForThat.jpg

    Did they promote cuticle clipping in your school? I've wondered if that's something that's discouraged in school then encouraged in the salon. From everything I've read it's a huge no-no, but everyone I talk to who goes to salons regularly gets their cuticles clipped. I'm curious what that school's take is.

    Also, the no time to exercise and eating bad and gaining weight... That's definitely another concern of mine. I have a hard enough time with my weight as it is!

    Thanks for all the info!

    1. Yeah, it's been rough to witness some of the things that go on, but as you mentioned, a lot of it is due to immaturity, both in age and wisdom. Night classes are a breath of fresh air from it all.

      Your question about cuticle nipping is a good one! Yes, they do teach us how to do it, and you actually need to perform it on the boards (even though you're doing it on a fake hand with no actual cuticles). It is important to learn to do it correctly, to prevent problems when you're in the salon. However, you don't always need to do it on clients. If their cuticles aren't unruly, there's no need to nip them. However, a lot of them are, so in order to give them a proper manicure or pedicure, you need to nip.

      I was terrified of nipping when I first started, because I assumed it always caused bleeding. Now I know exactly what's live and what's dead skin (the cuticle), and can safely nip. It makes the manicure last longer and look nicer, so it's important to learn!

    2. Oh man, the first (and only) professional manicure I've ever gotten... the tech clipped my cuticles and made it bleed, then did a french gel mani OVER the blood. So for the entire time I had that manicure I had dried blood under the clear part of the manicure. That's one of the many reasons I do my own. If I knew then what I know now... I wouldn't have let that fly. ;)

    3. Ew! That's so unsanitary! Nipping cuticles is a fine art, and they should NEVER bleed. If they do, the service should stop and the tech should treat the injury...with gloves! And all kinds of first aid precautions. Imagine if the tech who nipped you hadn't properly sanitized an infected implement that had come into contact with someone else's blood. The consequences could be dramatic. So scary!

  3. OMG the crying! Ladies - you make us all look like morons when you cry in public. Sometimes a good cry is justified or even needed but way too many women cry at the drop of a hat and then expect that everyone around them should jump to make it better. New flash... all you do is make everyone around you uncomfortable and make evil, heartless women like me think you are doing it as a "way out" of whatever is happening. Cowboy up and control yourself or at the very least remove yourself to the restroom or some other private area. Don't cry in front of me because your feelings are hurt and then expect that I will ever take you seriously.

  4. OH wow!!! This is an eye opener for me. I really want to go to nail school.. but I've always been of the mentality of "blinders". Meaning, Im not there to make friends or be better than anyone. I just want to learn my shiz and get out. Keep my head down and just get through it. I think it is possible... right?

    1. You can definitely do it! But be prepared for the things I mentioned above and more. You need to be tough, but if you make friends in the process, it feels great. Let others help you where you need it, and offer your support to others. Positivity is rewarded, and you'll be helping yourself mentally by doing so. Hope that helps, and let us know if you decide to go!


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