Posted by: raedawnj | January 16, 2011

For The Love Of Nails

I know most women love to get their manicures and pedicures. Even some men, who like to keep themselves polished. But a bargain of a $17 mani & pedi isn’t always the best thing for our fingers and toes.

I was able to get some time in with nail tech to the stars and one of my dear friends, Tracylee, to answer some questions about nail trends, tips, and overall general nail care for us all.

A little background on the wonder woman of nails:

TracyLee is a 20 year veteran in the Beauty Industry, specifically as a Nail Stylist, and has transitioned into the role as an Educator and Beauty Consultant.   Dubbed NYC’s “Mani Maven” by NBC Thread NY.  TracyLee,  always try to stay ahead of the curve, with the newest and hottest nail trends.  A favorite choice for both editors and beauty bloggers, vivacious and articulate TracyLee lends her expertise working as an editorial manicurist as well as speaking from an educator’s perspective in numerous blog features and in magazines such as, Modern Salon, Scratch UK and Vibe. She was also recently featured in New York Times Style.

TracyLee provides clients many options in looks with both the latest techniques in extensions (by request), nail coverings, and custom nail art, but shares the same enthusiasm for giving traditional services. Tracylee also specializes in men’s nail grooming.

As a freelance nail stylist, TracyLee brings fashion experience to clients through her diversification of technique in nail styling. She draws inspiration from the designers themselves, editorial seasons, fashion and film history. TracyLee has keyed New York Shows for Vassilios Kostetsos, Honor, as well as Alice + Olivia. She also has done Guest Appearances for the retailers Opening Ceremony, Urban Outfitters and Madewell – all while maintaining a clientele of NYC socialites, designers, editors, and celebrities that in include Natalie Portman, Olivia Wilde, M.I.A, Lauryn Hill, Nicki Minaj, Shontelle Layne, and Courtney Love to name a few.

Editorial clients include Lucky, Marie Claire, GenLux, Numero, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar.

Now the Q & A with Tracylee… take notes!

Crystal Nail File

1.Tell me who are some of your celebrity clients?
I have recently worked with Natalie Portman, Olivia Wilde, Lauryn Hill, Nicki Minaj, Maya of M.I.A., Courtney Love, Shontelle Layne, also Super Models, Karolina Kurkova and Hana Soukupova

2. What are some of the most popular nail trends right now?
I am primarily a “Green, Eco-Friendly”, Luxury, Nail Stylist, and offer, unique, personalized spa manicure & pedicure treatments.
For me….these services are really popular and most requested now.  However, I do offer enhancement services to my clients, when requested.
The hottest trends right now, are Gel Polish, which has the consistency of Nail Polish. The Gel Polishes,  are cured under a UV lamp, so no dry time=no smudges, they apply like nail polish,  last 2+ wks without a chip (yes you heard me right!), and soak off in 10-15 min. (The Colored Gels, like OPI Axxium, are a bit thicker in consistency, like a true Gel products. I prefer the thinner, Gel Polishes)
Nail Harmony’s, “Gelish”,  would be my product of choice.  This product was created by Veteran, UK Nail Tech, Danny Haile, and they have 50+ colors including shimmers and glitter, unlike the more known, new comers, Shellac and Axxium.

Nail art is also really hot now.  Nail art was really popular in the 90’s, and has made a strong comeback!  Nail art, allows us to show our creative sides, and has become the fashion accessory of the moment! Lovin’ it!

Are any of them good/bad for nails?
I have always felt that products used, isn’t what damages the natural nail.  I have found over the years, that it’s the improper application or removal of the product from the nail technician, that causes the damage to the nails, or sometimes, the clients themselves do the damage.
The gel polish application is very “nail friendly” as you do not have to etch the nail plate and use primers prior to application, as with nail enhancement products of the past.  When done properly, the product soaks off in approx 10-15 min.  Acetone is a bit drying to the nail plate, so a good moisture rich manicure would be necessary, after removal.  Cuticle oils and moisture rich creams applied daily, will keep the cuticle and nail plate full of the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

3. What are 4 things that women/men need to keep in mind when getting a

1-Although my clients do see a major difference in their hands and feet after just one service, it will take several regularly, scheduled,  services to get their hands & feet tip top!  It will take me approximately 6+ months of regular scheduled services,  to transform heavily calloused feet into butter soft. Keep up with the regularly scheduled appointments.

2-Please do not trim your toenails, prior to your pedicure, even if they’ve grown wild!  Most people cut their toe nails improperly, making our job a bit harder.

3-Cuticle oil, serum or nail conditioning cream will do more for your nails than anything else!  Daily use of these products, will keep your cuticles nourished, nail plate hydrated, resulting in healthy nail growth.  My favorite is Barielle’s, Nail Strengthening Cream…does wonders!

4-The truth about cuttings “Cuticles” ….There are 2 layers of skin at the base of your nail plate.

The lower layer, which is the layer attached to your nail plate & helps keep bacteria from entering the body.  Because this layer is attached to the nail plate, as your nails grow, this layer stretches and thins out with that nail growth.  After applying cuticle cream to soften and loosen, this layer should be pushed back, gently.  Because this layer is “Dead” skin, most of it should rub off easily. If there is anything hanging, it may be CAREFULLY cut off.  THIS layer is your actual “Cuticle” layer, and the only part that should see a nipper!!!

The top layer is called the Eponychium,which is the layer that is typically cut at nail salons. This layer is ‘Live” skin, and when cut, just as if you cut your finger on something sharp, your body will begin to try to heal it,  at rapid speed.   After repeatedly cutting this layer, eventually the new growth will come back in jagged, hardened, skin.     This layer should NOT be cut!!
Once this layer is cut, it becomes a vicious cycle, to get the cuticles back in shape.  With a little patience, and TLC,cuticle transformation can be done, by a skilled Nail Technician.

4. Any tips on how to keep our hands/feet looking and feeling good in these cold
winter months?

During the winter, nails and skin, need more hydration, than the warmer months, due to the extreme temperatures changes from the cold air outside, and the dry, hot air indoors.  Nails can become brittle and skin dry,  if not properly maintained with  regular, moisture rich manicures/pedicures and nail treatments.
1- Put gloves on Prior to going out in the cold air, keeping nails and skin at a warm, cozy temperature.

2- Regular Waterless Manicures & Pedicures, will keep nails and cuticles moisturized. The nail plate is like a sponge. When the nails are exposed to hot water, the keratin fibers that make up the nail plate, absorb the water and make the nail plate swell.  When the water evaporates from the nail plate,, it also evaporates the all important, moisture from the nail plate as well, making the nails dry, brittle,also susceptible to splitting and cracking. If you must soak, then apply a great moisture cream thickly, on top of nail plate and cuticles, to help prevent them from absorbing the water.

3- Nails should always be protected from the cold air, wind and dry indoor heat.  If you choose not to wear polish, then you should use, at minimal, a nail treatment or basecoat/topcoat.

4-Wear gloves while washing dishes and cleaning to protect your nails and skin from chemicals and water!

5. What are some must have nail products that we should all have?

1-Crystal/Glass nail file. Unlike traditional board files,Crystal nail files, can be sanitized and they seal the layers of your nail at the free edge, which will help reduce chipping and breaking, producing a smoother, thicker,  free edge.  We Love that!!  Crystal files, file the free edge slowly & minimally, which allows for a more precise shaping of the nails.

2- Cuticle oil is a must, this will help keep your nails and cuticles at their optimum health!

6. How can someone book/contact you for an appointment?

I am a Freelance, Luxury Nail Stylist.  I offer mobile nail services, travelling to my client’s home, office, on set, or on location.  I can be contacted via email

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