Sabrina Gayle Headshot

When it comes to freshly manicured talons, we’d like to think we know some of the best practitioners in the industry. And this month’s ‘Ask the expert’ is no different as we catch up with Sabrina Gayle who makes manicuring the nails of British actresses such as Kate Winslet and Keira Knightley her business.

We caught up with Sabrina to find out more about her craft…

Kate Winslet Modelling Shot

What is your first memory of appreciating great nails?

One of my first memories of great nails came from the movie Earth Girls are Easy during Geena Davis’s make over scene. There were close up shots of crazy creative nails which I had never seen before. Also in Total Recall where the receptionist changes her nail colour using an electric pen. Those particular scenes were mind blowing.

How did that inspire you to want to become a session manicurist?

The creativity inspired me, I always had a flair for art. I have an A level in art and a GNVQ in Art and Design before going onto university to study Graphic Design. From there I went onto studying a make-up application course at The London School of Make Up where I came across nails again and decided to further my education in manicure/pedicure treatments.

What are your favourite products that help make your job easier?

  • Leighton Denny’s Time Repair Elixir

My go to product! I am all about caring for the nail. This nail treatment is for ridged, ageing nails that lack moisture and smoothness. I use this treatment as a base coat, and it is also a great colour, perfect for a natural, groomed and healthy looking nail. I use this treatment/colour on almost all the shoots I work on.

One of the fastest drying top coats to date (45 seconds in fact). Leaving your manicure with a flawless, glossy and immaculate finish.

  • Time Repair Anti Ageing Cuticle Oil

Cuticle oil is my one product that I could not live without; it’s an essential part of my kit. I have fallen in love with Leighton Denny’s treatment oil, nourishing and softening the hands and cuticles whilst improving appearance of wrinkles.

  • Bliss Foot Patrol Bliss Foot Patrol

Having worked for Bliss Spa London many moons ago, I am still in love with this product and use it on shoots as well as private clients. My clients love its refreshing scent and the fact that it exfoliates, while it hydrates for an incredibly silky finish. It really can eliminate having full pedicures every month.

Felicity Jones Editorial Shot

Where do you see the nail industry evolving?

The nail industry is on the up, with a manicure now seen as just as much of an essential for most women as having a blow dry or their brows done. A career as a nail technician is a creative and fulfilling one, with a huge amount of opportunities to take things as far as your ambition and talent will let you.

With hard work, study, and a creative flair, in a few years you could be working alongside amazing fashion designers, for a prestigious beauty brand, or even in your own salon. You never know where the industry could take you.

Discover: The Business Of Nails: WAH London

Where would you say your talent lies? Nail art? Gel? etc

I would say that my talent lies with nail art, having an art background. My style being graphic and bold in colour. Once new technology came out I started experimenting with nail designs in gels, which is actually a lot easier than moving around wet nail polish.

Related: Spotlight on gel nails 

Keira Knightley Editorial

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to start up in the business of nails?

If you are currently a nail technician working for someone else, starting your own nail salon business gives you the freedom and creativity of being your own boss. You can start a nail salon relatively inexpensively. For example, you can choose to start a mobile nail salon business or, depending on where you live, you may be able to open a nail salon in your own home. Of course, you also have the option of opening your nail salon in a retail location.

When you open your own nail salon, you have the luxury of designing the type of salon you want, and providing the types of services you want.

You can open a neighbourhood walk-in nail salon or an exclusive upscale salon. You can open a full-service nail salon with manicures and pedicures of all types, or specialise in particular nail care services such as acrylic nails, gels, wraps, or nail art.

Marketing your business on social networks is the best way to get what you do out there. I literally got noticed by starting an Instagram page showcasing all of my work where I was eventually contacted by several people in the industry and it went on from there.

Sabrina Gayle Nails

What are the main differences between session manicurists and nail technicians?

It really depends on where you are based. A session manicurist is a freelance worker working in the fashion industry, although bear in mind we are nail technicians also. We have to have the skills and knowledge of a nail technician who works with all types of nail technology. Nail technicians are usually based in salons or may have their own business as a mobile technician. It is quite common for nail technicians to fall into session work.

What has been your most memorable moment to date when it comes to your job?

I would have to say the most memorable shoot I have worked on was for Harper’s Bazaar ‘Roll Up Roll Up’ shot by Ellen Von Unwerth. It was a location shoot at the Giffords Circus, an amazing experience.

Felicity Jones Editorial Shoot

What is the best aspect of your job?

The best aspects of my job are never knowing what and where I will be shooting and meeting at least one new creative person everyday.

What can we expect from you for 2017?

I am currently furthering my education, studying to become a foot practitioner and reflexologist. I have plans involving these studies, so watch this space… I am also working on a new magazine ‘NailZine’ for those who are passionate about nails. It is an archive of memorable nails in film and music videos of the past. I am hoping that it will evolve into something really exciting.

Discover more from Sabrina on her Instagram: @nailsbySG

Time for more inspiration? Ask the expert: Ruby Hammer | Leigh Keates | Darren Ambrose | Angelo Seminara | Sophia Hilton