Creativity constantly thrives in the nail industry, whether we’re seeing celebrity nails or artistic works on those tiny canvases. Just look at these self-taught Gen Z nail artists.
I’ve always asked my nail artist for Pinterest-worthy nails—the kind that stops other women in their tracks and makes them say, ‘OMG, are those nails for real?’ Aside from being the perfect manicure for nail biters or people with brittle nails, nail art has also been a great way to showcase talent, inividuality, and everything in between. Today, creativity constantly thrives in the nail industry, whether we’re seeing celebrity nails or these artistic works on those tiny canvases. It’s truly amazing how nail artists translate their vision—or yours—onto fingernails, providing everyone with another means of self-expression.
And the best part is that there’s no age limit on becoming you’re very own nail tech. You can start in the business and make a name for yourself as early as your 20s, which these following creatives have done. Whatever it is that you’re looking for, here’s a rundown of Gen Z nail artists for your next nail appointment. Yes, take this as a sign—you should get your nails done.
Colleen San Pedro, 21 | Nailee PH
How did you get into nail artistry?
I ventured into the nail industry because I’m a young mom. I’m doing all of this for my baby boy.
How long have you been doing nail art?
I started Nailee PH as a press-on nails business in June 2021 and began accepting clients for soft gel nail extensions around April 2022.
Tell us more about your business.
My nail designs include trending Y2K nails, Korean sets, French tips, and airbrush designs. Clients can book appointments through my Instagram account, @nailee.ph. Additionally, I co-founded @reeleegudstudio on Instagram, which is a joint business venture with a close friend. Alongside our separate studios, we decided to open another business to collaborate and support each other’s work. Eventually, our goal is to train other nail technicians and share tips.
Lyka Jiao, 20 | Nails by Lyka
What was it like starting nail artistry at a young age?
Nails By Lyka began as a mere passion project rooted in my deep interest in fashion, with a twist focused on nail artistry. It started as a simple experiment, something I tried on a whim, never imagining it would evolve into a successful business. Despite my initial doubts about my artistic skills, I was determined to overcome the challenge. Over time, I honed my craft, turning nails into miniature canvases. To my surprise and sincere gratitude, an increasing number of clients began to appreciate my work.
What are the hottest nail trends that people always ask for?
Today, it’s all about Korean-inspired nail art, embracing dainty, fairy core aesthetics, and a touch of kawaii charm.
How can clients book for appointment?
Clients can book through Instagram, where I regularly share my availability for specific dates. After filling out forms from my story highlights and settling the down payment, ta-da! Done.
Ryu Tenshi, 22 | Claws by Tenshi
What challenges did you face as a young nail artist?
As a 22-year old nail artist, I believe my main challenge has been comparing my work and skills to other nail artists in the industry. The high demand has led to the opening of numerous nail studios, resulting in more competition. However, I’ve come to realize that each artist has their own unique style. This realization prompted me to discover my own distinctive style. Now with Claws by Tenshi, I work with BIAB, XL nail sets, and designs ranging from girly to gothic.
What are your personal thoughts on XL nail sets?
XL sets are one of the most underrated nail styles here in the Philippines. Since it’s still uncommon and some clients prefer the standard sizes, I get excited every time someone opts for XL sets. It’s also fascinating to see how people experiment with longer lengths and designs in their everyday lives. Additionally, it provides me with an extra canvas to create more unique designs!
Tell us more about BIAB.
BIAB, short for Builder in a Bottle, is a gel-like nail polish applied as an overlay on natural nails or short extensions. During this appointment, we remove your previous gel color, perform nail filing, and address cuticle work. Then, we apply BIAB to fill in the nail growth area. This manicure method helps protect your nails from potential damage caused by removal.
Danica Valdezco, 21 | Nails by Nica
How long have you been doing nails?
I founded Nails by Nica in October 2019 and have been in the nail industry for nearly 4 years. Recently, we’ve expanded our offerings to include soft gel extensions and gel manicures. Nails by Nica is more than just a hobby; nail art has been a part of me since grade school. Unable to afford nail salons back then, I started Nails by Nica with the motto: ‘If I can’t afford it, I’ll do it myself.’
What was your biggest break as a nail artist?
Working with Nylon Manila was a remarkable experience. Collaborating with such a creative brand was a privilege, and I credit Elyse Ilagan for making that opportunity possible. She approached for an artist’s photo shoot, and I immediately accepted. I’ve long admired NYLON Manila’s imaginative direction, and I didn’t want to miss out on the chance to take part in their vision.
Tell us more about your nail artistry.
I think I can confidently say I’m good at free-style designs, drawing inspiration from various visuals and transforming them into nail designs. I specialize in hand-drawn lettering and seamlessly incorporating elements into nail designs. Specifically, I’ve recently gained recognition for creating nail art inspired by K-Pop groups. Given that K-Pop concerts are all about music and outfits, creating nail art design collections has made me their go-to shop to complete their looks.
Elina Jung, 24 | @elinails.co
My name is Elina Jung, the 24-year old nail artist behind Eli Nails.
What’s your creative process as a nail artist?
I’m all about colors! I typically custom-mix shades for my clients, and I routinely work with around 20 gel polishes. But I personally think that 3D designs are one of my specialties.
What’s a project you’re most proud of?
I can’t single out one, but I absolutely love collaborating creatively with this specific stylist. Her fashion sense not only enhances my nail designs, but she also emphasizes how they complete the overall outfit. In my opinion, she’s played a significant role in establishing nails as a distinct presence in Manila’s fashion scene, and I’m genuinely thankful for it.
Sheena Concepcion, 23 | Clawphoria Nail Studio
How did your journey began as a self-taught nail artist?
When the pandemic hit, I decided to turn my passion into a business, creating the brand Clawphoria. I started by selling custom press-on nails on Facebook Marketplace, which allowed me to save money to expand my nail collection. I even offered home services starting at a price of P300.
What’s a nail trend that you love working with?
I specialize in Western nail art, including 3D sculpting, maximalist designs, and airbrush designs. I also provide gel manicures, where I apply a builder gel overlay to the natural nails.
What nail services do you offer?
I offer GelX, also known as soft gel extensions, or simply gel extensions, along with structured gel manicures using a builder gel overlay on natural nails. Additionally, I create and sell custom press-on nails. To book an appointment, I release monthly slots via my Instagram story.
Alet, 23 | The Claws Station Manila
What was your life like before you became a nail artist?
I was a designer and architecture student before, and for that reason, creativity comes naturally to me. The Claws Station Manila was truly an eye-opener for me because, before this experience, I was one hardcore introvert and lacked confidence. Through this opportunity, I met a lot of amazing people every day, and my world expanded.
Complete this sentence: “When it comes to nail art, my speciality is …”
3D designs, chrome nails, and hand-painted sets.
How can clients book an appointment with you?
Feel free to message me through Instagram, @theclawsstationmanila.
Trizxie Serrano, 21 | CLAWSdotCOM
Introduce yourself and your business.
I’m Trizxie Serrano, the 21-year old owner of CLAWSdotCOM. The business actually started as a hobby because I’m really into long nails. Then I decided to experiment by offering them to my friends, and that’s how it all began—all thanks to my friends’ support.
What makes press on nails different?
Right now, I only offer Luxury Press Ons. I prefer press ons over usual nail extensions because it’s instant—like, you’re literally done in under 10 minutes! They’re perfect for those on-the-go or anyone who doesn’t have hours to spend sitting in a salon.
Is there a particular nail design you dislike creating?
Japanese nail art. I really admire its appearance, but when it comes to the process? No, thanks!
Angelika Gener, 27 | Geli Nail Studio
How did Geli Nail Studio come about?
I am Angelika Gener, but both my family and friends call me ‘Geli.’ Therefore, I decided to name my small nail business ‘Geli Nail Studio.’
What makes press on nails different?
My design expertise includes classic clean looks and creative freestyle designs, which I specialize in for both Gel-X and soft gel extensions.
What’s your message for young aspiring nail artists?
My advice is to continue practicing, even when you feel like you already know everything. Additionally, invest in your tools, products, and acquiring new knowledge.
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