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How competitions take nail techs to the next level

Each year nail techs gather to compete in the Professional Beauty Nail Competition. If you are still hesitating about entering this year in September, you can get some inspiration from these nail techs who have boosted their careers, fine-tuned their skills and picked up some trophies along the way. 

It’s about competing against yourself. 

Not even thinking of ever entering a nail competition, Andrea Smith, who owns Forever Lavish Nails & Beauty in Krugersdorp, was persuaded by an industry colleague to do so. And, she has not looked back since. 

Andrea Smith who won Professional Beauty’s Nail Technician of the Year in 2020
The competition bug has bitten Andrea Smith who won Professional Beauty’s Nail Technician of the Year in 2020

How has entering nail competitions boosted your career? 

It has taught me how to be more creative, work under pressure, and look at my work from a more critical perspective. This has helped me improve my overall quality of work which I provide to my clients. The judges always expect a specific standard of work to be produced within a specific time frame, ensuring you follow the rules and theme at hand, and when you think about it, that’s what a salon environment is like too. You have your client booked for a specific amount of time, and she has nail length, shape, colour and art ideas in mind which you need to achieve for her. So overall, entering nail competitions has helped me improve as a nail technician, which has helped me provide a better service to my clients. 


Nail set with flowers

Why did you first start entering nail competitions? 

Honestly speaking, I never considered entering until my friend and colleague in the industry Tania Biddle practically gave me no choice and said I must enter. I am very grateful that she pushed me to enter. It opened up my love for nail competitions and it gave me the confidence to just try, even though it was something that intimidated me. After that I started entering nail competitions more frequently. 

What do you love about entering nail competitions? 

I love the thrill of challenging myself and stepping out of my comfort zone. Nails that I get to do for competitions are way more out there than your day-to-day salon nails, it allows me to think out of the box and work with a variety of different mediums to create little works of art which would not be practical for everyday wear. It has also allowed me to network and make friends with different people from within the industry. 

What is your favourite memory from entering one of these competitions? 

Winning my first ever competition at the Professional Beauty Expo in 2018. I entered with no expectations, I just did it for fun. When they announced the winner, I was completely blown away, I wasn’t expecting it at all. But then the competition bug bit me and I started entering more competitions, which led me to winning Nail Technician of the Year 2020 which is one of the biggest achievements of my career. 

What advice would you give to a nail tech thinking about entering a competition? 

Just do it. It may seem overwhelming, you may feel like you are not good enough, you may even feel like you need more experience in the industry before doing it, but I promise you it is worth it. Enter for fun, enter for the experience, enter to grow. It is amazing to see how much your skill level and way of thinking changes from just entering a nail competition.  

It pushes you to think differently, and practice so much, that it improves your level of skill, therefore making you a better nail technician at the end of the day. If I look at what I used to do on nails before I entered competitions, I have definitely become a better nail tech. It doesn’t matter if you don’t win, what matters is that you challenge yourself and that you grow as an individual. I always thought the competitions were about going up against others, but as I went on, I realised that it’s actually you going up against yourself and bettering yourself each time, improving on your skill and working outside your comfort zone to become the best nail tech you can be. 

Taking part is a confidence builder! 

For Amanda Stonehouse, who owns her own home-based salon Just Nails in Krugersdorp, entering competitions helps you to prove to yourself what you are capable of. She was placed first in the Gel Polish Creation category in Professional Beauty’s 2023 nail competition. 


Amanda Stonehouse
Amanda Stonehouse

After being persuaded to enter, Amanda Stonehouse has experienced the many benefits of competing, not only against others, but also against herself. 

How has entering nail competitions boosted your career? 

It has definitely boosted my confidence in my own ability. 

Amanda Stonehouse with 1st place trophy gel polish creation nail set
1st place Gel Creation 2023 (category sponsored by Biosculpture)

Why did you first start entering nail competitions?

I was encouraged to enter by the lovely lady who trained me. I was very nervous to take part, but it taught me a lot

about myself and I’m very grateful for those lessons.

What do you love about entering nail competitions?

I did not love the first competition I entered, but now I enjoy the challenge. I think you are in competition with yourself, and your confidence more than anything else. By entering competitions, you get to prove something to yourself above all else. You also get to meet other people from your industry and make friends, which is always a lot of fun.

What is your favourite memory from entering one of these competitions?

I have many good memories, from silly inside jokes with my model, to the thrill of the event and the huge sense of achievement you get just from being there and taking


What advice would you give to a nail tech thinking about entering a competition?

I would say go for it! Everyone should enter at least once in their life just for the experience. Practice, practice, and most importantly, have fun!

Heads up! Start thinking about your entry! 

The next Professional Beauty annual national nail competition will be held at the Johannesburg Professional Beauty exhibition to be held at Gallagher Convention Centre on 1 and 2 September. It offers different entry categories and levels, including nail design, gel, tip overlay and master sculpture (acrylic and gel).

Join the next Nail Competition Workshop on the 20th of May 2024 at 12:00, where Gel Polish Creation category and rules and regulations will be covered. Email for the meeting link.

Register for information, rules and regulation and how to enter at