The differences between working as a nail tech in the UK & the US
By Guest Writer | 18 June 2020 | Feature, Tech Talk
Celebrity manicurist & international nail fashion designer, Naomi Gonzalez-Longstaff, reveals the differences & similarities between working as a nail tech in the UK and the USA…
I have been travelling globally for my career over the past 12 years. I’ve been to Mexico, Puerto Rico and Spain, to name just a few countries, to create nail looks and work for some of the biggest professional brands like CND and essie, and for major campaigns with brands such as Ralph Lauren. My home country of the US and the second country I am happy to call home, England, have both offered me consistent work in nails and I am excited to share some of my adventures working on both sides of the pond.
In the USA, I work in NYC, Miami, and LA. These are the three largest markets for editorial and production work (or ‘session work’ as it is known in the UK). I am represented by NY power agent Timothy Priano and his agency ARTISTS. During my time with the agency, I have worked on major production and commercial campaigns including British Vogue, FarFetch and ZARA to name a few.
In 2014, I led London Fashion Week and was sponsored by The Body Shop, and during NYFW and Miami Fashion Weeks many of my team members were recruited from the UK.
It’s common for wonderful British nail pros to contact celebrity nail leads to be part of their team during NYFW, hence, my experience working with British talent has been part of my career from the beginning.
I find that artists in both countries are passionate and dedicated to their craft. One big difference I see is the competition culture of nails in the UK that we don’t necessarily experience in the US, so the preciseness, timeliness and accuracy from appointments to application is ingrained in UK pros.
For US pros, we have a more flexible and relaxed approach from business to client services whilst still producing the outcome of structure and professionalism. Purchasing products for my kit is interesting in the UK which is why I have two kits: my US and UK kit.
Some of my favourite US products are hard to come by in the UK or not available. In the US we have lots of pro beauty supply stores so if I am low for a shoot or client, I can pop right in to get my supplies. In the UK, it’s a bit more complicated to get my hands on supplies and products, especially last minute, so I keep my inventory of goodies well stocked in England.
Another observation is that in The States, there is a greater variety of nail services and salons, from natural nail or vegan services all the way to stiletto nail appointments. In NYFW February 2020, one of my assistants Sarah Evans, who is from the UK, met me in Spanish Harlem for lunch and whilst we walked to get some yummy Dominican food, we walked by six nail salons on one block! She was amazed that they were all busy given the amount of nail salons that were around. In the UK, it appears that acrylics or gel enhancements are the most popular services so finding a nail salon or provider that can do a natural mani/pedi has been challenging.
Additionally, I don’t see many nail salons that I can just walk in for a service; everything is appointment based so the convenience I am used to is not readily available in England. In the US to be able to work as a manicurist you have to be licensed and every state is regulated.
In the UK, you don’t need the same licensure or regulations; but the pros are very educated and highly skilled and work in multi-specialty such as skincare and lash applications.
We have this as well; it’s called full specialist however, not everyone goes for this. It’s either skin or nails – not both.
Lastly, the way the nail community engages with one another has been really cool to watch here in England. As the UK is smaller in comparison to the US, the nail community is as well and really knows one another. In the US, the nail community is huge and divided up into salon/spa, editorial, celebrity, etc. We are supportive of each other, but we don’t really get the opportunity to work with each other or get together as much as we would like. We do get an opportunity to see each other at trade shows such as Premiere Orlando (one of my faves) or Nail Event of the Smokies (a hidden gem of a nail show) so I try not to miss it or be booked during these events because I get to see all my favourite people.
There is so much to share about my experience working and living while splitting time between US and UK, but I will say that ‘extraordinary and special’ sums it up well. I look forward to meeting and working with more nail pros and brands in the UK and being part of the nail family here!
Con amor, Naomi xo
Follow Naomi on Instagram, here.