By Maree Alexander

When does it stop getting better? This year’s nail competition at The Sydney International Spa & Beauty Expo has to be the best ever. The standard of work was very high. There was an exciting trend towards new names on the winners list and it was wonderful having some of our more well-known technicians present at the comps, winning prizes and displaying great ability with their skills.

Art classes at the nail competitions offer the very best opportunity to see masters of the profession at work. Of course, everyone knows you would never wear nails like that at the local school council meeting, or when next you attend a gala function, but it does demonstrate the extent to which you can go with nail enhancements and that is what competition is all about; stretching your limits, getting out of your comfort zone, learning you can do something you have never done before.

The technical classes were well supported with 32 technicians seated in the competition area and the work was breathtaking. The Speed Class produced some awesome work and showed that working in the salon with a one hour appointment allocation is easily attainable and an accomplishment that should be aspired to by all technicians. One of the reasons the chain store salons in major shopping centres are attracting a large following of clients is the fact that they produce a good basic commercial nail in a minimum of time.

It was interesting to note that many technicians still do not read the competition rules fully and several competitors lost marks for having worn files and product containers with shabby labelling. It is a simple matter to obtain small size containers of product from your distributor prior to the competition to give your workstation a clean, fresh presentation. Hair needs to be neatly tied back from hanging over your client’s hands (and your own) and possibly getting caught with the electric file. Clothes need to be practical and free from trims that dangle or drag across your work area. OH&S needs to be considered when setting yourself up to work in an area were you have electricity and chemicals up close and personal. Also a consideration in art classes where electric drills are acceptable.

The judges were strong in their praise of the standard of work done during the competition. Another comment from one of the judges was that many of the winning technicians used lights that were placed more directly above their work and not angled from the side. Old-fashioned light bulbs also offer a better opportunity for getting a reflected shine from the nail and this is beneficial in getting a better finish to the shape and shine of the nail. The halogen lights are very small, not placed to give the technician any advantage and don’t produce any warmth which can be beneficial in the sometimes fickle temperatures of the competition arena. Good lighting is an absolute must for this precision work.

There seems to be much confusion with the question of face masks. The wearing of face masks is not mandatory in Australia, however, if a technician chooses to have a face mask present during a competition, it is expected that the mask be used correctly.

Having a trophy and competition certificate strongly displayed in your salon window is one of the strongest advertisements you can have to counteract other salons in your district. It is all well and good to say you have qualifications but, at the end of the day, a trophy clearly demonstrations that you can produce the best nails and that is the best qualification of all.

Next year it is hoped to include a Student Category and TAFE, RTO’s, schools educators and are encouraged to hold competition workshops. There are independent assessors available that could be “guest judges”. A strong endorsement of training outcomes would be to have students from your training school being present at the trophy table at the next competition.

Some exciting new classes are being considered for inclusion with upcoming competitions such as Nails for Males, Twinkle Toes, Mix’N’Match, Ultimate Makeover and the return of a Fantasy Class.

Whispers: There could be a workshop weekend early in 2009 which may include competition education.

For feedback on what you would like to see included in future competitions and seminars that are held at the expos contact Maree Alexander 0408 163 696 or nailady@bigpond.net.au

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