A Guide to Nail Competitions

Nail competitions are a fantastic way to make a name for yourself as a Nail Technician, and they’re also great for branding and networking. Winning a nail competition category would prove your quality standard to potential clients as one of the best in your country and at the very least, can be a great conversation starter!

The key to standing out from the other competitors is to make sure that you produce a high standard of work, using and challenging your skill set. Even if you don’t think you may win, the experience alone will help you to grow in your profession. You will also learn new skills that you can take back to your salon or nail business.

Nail competitions can be daunting if you are new to it, as there is much to learn, including the importance of having the right tools and products. If interested in competing, this guide will provide you with a detailed insight into the competitive world of the nail industry and hopefully give you the gentle push you need towards to contending in your region.

Competition Nail Categories

The categories for competitions all depend on how big or small it may be. Some of the categories will depend on your level of experience. If you are new to contending, you should focus on the areas you are good at to begin. For most competitions suitable to newcomers, a minimum of 2 years experience is required and for this, you would need to have never entered nail competitions in the past. The Salon Nail category is a great way to explore and experience competitions and there is a shorter time limit than other categories.

Categories may include:

• Salon Nail
• Tip & Overlay
• Pink and White
• Showcase Nail Art
• Hand Painted Nail Art
• 3D Nail Art
• Boxed Nail Art
• Photographic Nail Art
• Photographic Classic

For most competitions, finding the perfect products to complement your skill is essentials to winning it.

nail competition

How to Enter

Most competitions require for you to register before the competition. Numbers can be limited, especially for the bigger or more popular competitions. Always ensure that you submit your form and entry fee on time and enter the correct category. It is also extremely important that you read the rules.

Having a competition mentor can be very helpful and competition workshops are useful to attend to focus on your weaker skills.

Choosing the Right Model 

In all competitions you have to provide your own model and this is without doubt one of the most important factors to get right. Always make sure that:

– Hands are in good condition
– Fingernails are graceful with long nail beds and cuticles are neat
– The model has a high level of patience

Remember that competition days are long for models as well. It is useful to educate your model on the competition process. This can help them become your second pair of eyes and a timekeeper to make sure that you remain on track.

The Rules

For all competitions there are a standard set of rules and each category would have it’s own rules. There are also floor-judging rules. It is very important that you read and understand the rules before the competition day. Breaking or not complying with the rules may lose you points or worse case get you disqualified.

Creating Perfect Competition Nails

Competition nails are very different from salon nails. It is imperative to perfect each nail and every detail, as any mistakes will be noticed and can result in you losing points. Every nail must be identical and consideration should be made for product application, filing and design.

How to Prepare Yourself

Before you enter any competition, you should plan ahead ensuring that you have all the correct tools and materials.

When entering categories such as the Photographic and Showcase Nail Art categories, check the rules to see when your work needs to be submitted. You should always write your details on the back of your photographs to ensure that they are returned to you. With some competitions they will ask you to email or upload your work.

On the Day of Competition

On competition day you will be provided with your competitor number. Initiate focus by switching off your mobile phone, organise your uniform, labels, tools, products and model prior to the competition briefing, ensuring that everything is noticeably displayed for the floor judges and that you are comfortable to do your best. Attention to detail must be given to all factors involved in the competition as there are multiple ways that you can lose points, such as:

– Not being on the floor
– Manufacturer labels not written in English
– Failing to have the appropriate equipment
– Having incomplete client cards
– Not having a plastic liner for bins
– Not wearing eye protection
– Not removing your jewellery

Floor judges will observe all your work practices and additional marks are awarded for hygiene, tidiness and personal presentation.

nail art competition

How Judging Works

During the competition, models will be pre-judged before the main judging event. This ensures that the judge can see the overall standards and quality of the nails. It is the models’ responsibility to ensure they are judged a second time and they do not leave the competition area until all the judging has ended, making certain that all judges see them. The only categories where floor-judging rules do not apply are Photographic and Showcase Nail Art.

Overall, nail competitions offer great prospects and experience for nail technicians and should not to be disregarded, especially if you want to take your career to the next level. Good luck!

4 thoughts on “A Guide to Nail Competitions

  1. Allie on Reply

    Thanks for this article. I’ve thought about entering a competition before but I just don’t think I’d stand a chance… I spend most of my time doing standard manis and gels, not nail art, and although nail art is a hobby in my spare time I don’t think I’m at competition-level yet. I might have a chance with pink and white… my clients really love my work there. Still, this was very informative and inspiring, I’m bookmarking this for when I feel competition ready!

  2. Danielle on Reply

    Excellent comments mentioned for those who are new to the nail world or those who require extra direction to set them on the right path.

  3. Rose on Reply

    Allie, I’d give it a try, you never know! I felt unprepared for my first nail competition but I came in second place (I did salon nail.) If it’s a smaller competition, you have a really good chance of placing and getting an impressive-sounding title to put on your resume. I’d add to the tips above (which are excellent) that judges really are obsessive about how you present yourself and how tidy you keep your workspace – if you have crazy hair I’d tie it back, or if you have lots of piercings I’d take them out for competition day. They want you to look really professional, not necessarily “creative” like you can get away with in a real salon.

  4. Jennifer on Reply

    Great overview of the competition world. Thank you for walking us through the entire process, especially behind the scenes info about what judges are looking for and shaping your personal presentation. It’s that kind of info that industry veterans can offer to those of us just starting out in nail competitions!

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