Caitlin Iley

TECH TALK: Isadora Borges Sá of Caliente Nails

By Callie Iley | 05 December 2020 | Feature, Tech Talk

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Scratch chats with Isadora Borges Sá of Caliente Nails, based in Porto District, Portugal, about her passion for her nail business and her inspiration sources when creating gorgeous nail art creations.

What is it about nails that has you hooked?

I really can’t believe how much nails have changed my life. I’m a Latina immigrant living in Europe. In this profession, I have had the opportunity to create the work that I wanted to do and have the economic freedom necessary to live my life under my own rules.

My company, Caliente Nails, allows me to develop myself artistically, as well as allowing me to create and reinvent myself every day. I love the immediate positive effect nails have on my clients’ self-esteem. I love to see them happy, empowered and safe. I feel nails are a reminder we can look and feel good with ourselves.


What designs do you love to create?

I think the flames are one of the designs I most enjoy doing, and luckily, my clients come always asking for more! They’ve become my Caliente signature style. I love to do smiley faces, too; it’s a simple graphic element with so many variations which I can adapt to my clients’ personalities.

Like many of my clients, I can be unsure of what I want to do when given the artistic freedom to do so, which is why I love to mix and match designs!

It’s incredibly fun when the clients trust in you completely and let you have total creative freedom.

Where do you source inspiration for your nail work

Caliente Nails is the result of everything that surrounds me. I like to take inspiration from my daily life, favourite music, art, fashion, design, and communication.

My work is very graphics-oriented, which is why I like to get inspired by colours, patterns, illustrations, and trends. I also like to get inspired by other nail artists; I think I’m in the same line of work as many other talented people, and I am challenged each time by how amazing they are.

I like to think about the concepts as a whole, and I think that’s why I enjoy editorials so much. In this type of work, I develop a whole concept around the nail art, and not as a complement, as it usually happens in other fashion editorials. Being the creative director, the nail artist and photographer all in one on these projects allows me to develop my creativity on other levels as I have total control over the work.

As of November 2020, I already have three editorial works: “Caliente”, “Boys do Nails” and “Flores”. In each one of my editorial works, I have explored very different techniques and concepts, and I feel that this kind of exercises help to make me see the nails as contemporary canvases.

What is your all-time favourite nail product?

It’s so hard to choose just one! My big favourite would be the Builder In A Bottle from The Gel Bottle. It has been a game-changer for my clients and me. It saves me a lot of time, and it has strengthened my clients’ nails and mine.

My second favourite product has got to be cuticle oil; the key to a beautiful manicure is hydration. I created my nail oil that I use in all my treatments. It’s made with natural products like almond oil. Natural cosmetics is something I’m very drawn to, and I may make new products in the future.

Tell us about an average day in your nail life…

My day begins with a cup of coffee, the right playlist, and a short train ride to my study in Oporto. When I began Caliente, it was a priority for me to create a safe space where people felt respected and calm. Now, having my private studio has allowed me to create an entire atmosphere to receive my ‘Nail Gang’.

Usually, my clients share beforehand some ideas or reference images. I like to pitch in and create a concept with them. Sometimes the creative process starts with a picture, a color palette, or an outfit.

I enjoy the result and picture taking, but it’s also a moment of self-evaluation. It’s so gratifying for me to see my evolution and where I can improve for next time. I photograph all my work. On my way back home, I usually update my social media, edit the pictures I took earlier, and post content to my Instagram.



Why is it so important for techs to advance their nails skills and artistry?

I think that it is incredibly important to develop our skills and feed our creativity. As you dominate new techniques and tools, it’s easier to get your message across as an artist, and it allows you to create new things. I know it may sound corny, but you have to believe in yourself and not compare yourself to others who are in the same line of work.

The beauty world can be very competitive, but I think we have to see our colleagues as allies.

This sector has grown so much in the past couple of years; it is our responsibility to be at the forefront of the aesthetics industry. We must keep ourselves up to date with trends to offer a better service to our clients. Nails are finally getting the recognition they deserve, and our profession is highlighted as art.

Follow Isadora’s nail journey on Instagram, here.