If any of you remember the old yellow pages advert with the lady’s hand walking around, you will know that most ladies nowadays look after their nails by having a pedicure or a manicure. The person who does manicures and pedicures is known as a nail technician, and he or she works solely on people’s nails.
Nail technicians mainly perform manicures and pedicures. They prepare nails for overlays or artificial nails by cleaning and filing the natural nails. The extensions are then applied to the tips of the natural nails and finished off with layers of acrylic or gel (the two most popular products). They apply varnish and embellishments, such as gems or glitter, and use an airbrush to paint designs on the nails. They also maintain, remove or repair artificial nails, and monitor the client’s nails for possible signs of nail disease caused by extensions. Health and safety precautions are extremely important; therefore, nail technicians have to follow strict hygiene procedures. It is also important to store chemicals and varnishes correctly. Part-time workshops and short courses are always available to keep nail technicians up-to-date with new products and techniques.
Angie Viljoen is a nail technician and owner of Hair Art 2 hair salon. She was in the top ten of the Beauty Africa Show in 2006. “My mom actually chose my career for me, and it wasn’t easy, because it takes about two years to get into this industry before you start enjoying it.”
A nail technician can earn R4 000 a month with about 35% commission, and can work at a variety of places, such as hair and beauty salons, private homes, malls, cruise ships, pharmacies and even hotels.
The duties of a nail technician include painting customers’ nails (fingers and toes), applying tips or permanent nails, filing nails, massaging customers’ hands and upper forearms, as well as applying nail art. An important part of the job involves customer relations. When doing pedicures, the nail technician would be required to work with feet, and to massage them as part of the whole service.
“The pros,” says Angie, “are the people, having to be a psychologist for some customers, and the before and after look of a person’s hands. The con is having to be a psychologist for your client, as it sometimes gets too much, taking all your customers’ problems on your shoulders.”
You will need to obtain a qualification, such as a diploma from a reputable beauty school, if you want to pursue this career line. Also, if you want to work overseas or at a professional company, you will have to complete a trade test.
If you are bubbly, open-minded, talkative, friendly, accommodating, professional and presentable, then this might be the right career for you. You will also need to have a steady hand, be assertive, know the different types of fungi, be able to communicate, and always be in control.
“I work from 08:00 to 18:00, Mondays to Fridays, and 07:30 to 14:30 on Saturdays. Throughout the day, I see about 15 to 18 clients. Applying tips, which is what I do mainly, takes about 30 to 45 minutes. Other things I do are refills, applying new tips and breakages. In summer, we do a lot of pedicures.”
“The best thing about the job is the people, because every 30 minutes there is someone new with a new story to tell,” smiles Angie. “The worst thing about the job is when a client breaks one nail and I only have to fix the one nail. This usually breaks my rhythm.”
Angie’s advice for the youngsters out there is: “Be sure of yourself and remember that beauty is not an easy career. Take a gap year overseas before deciding on a career.”