I’m Alive!

So… it’s been a while since I last checked back in here… and I also realised my last few posts have had nothing to do with nails. Oops! Here’s a picture of something I did last month:

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But really, I’ve been super busy flying off to Taiwan/Japan for lessons and exams, and it’s really taken a toll on my health and energy levels. Ugh! I’ve set a lot of goals for myself to reach within these 2 years in terms of Japanese nail certification, so let’s just hope I can make it.

Also… did I mention I got married in July? Goodness! It sure feels strange to be a Mrs now, but I like the sound of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

I started teaching a couple of months ago, after having rejected prospective students for a few years. It still amazes me that people admire my work to the extent that they want to learn from me, and I am so grateful for that! I used to be a legit teacher (really, ex-MOE teaching scholar here, and I taught mostly secondary school graduating classes in my 6-year teaching career) and I miss teaching, so I am happy to be conducting these classes. I’ll try to find time to teach 2 classes a month, so check out my class schedule!

Review: Laser Treatment at S&N Aesthetics Clinic

Last month, I decided to get my freckles lasered so that I could have more radiant, even skin for my upcoming wedding photoshoot in May.

I didn’t realise that there were so many women interested in laser treatments to target pigmentation problems until I posted my own experience on my Instagram account (@nailartexpress) and received way more responses compared to my usual postings on food and nails. I even had strangers and friends who either messaged me in private or asked me when they saw me, wanting to know more about my experience.

I actually never thought about trying to remove my freckles until quite recently, when I started getting more comments about my freckles being quite obvious and questions about whether I intended to do anything about them. What really pushed me over the edge was when I saw the effects of the laser treatment on one of my friends. She’d gone for a laser treatment at S&N Aesthetic Clinic and I saw how it actually WORKED and reduced her pigmentation significantly. And then of course, being a bride-to-be, I’m a sucker for anything that will make me look better and I can always write it off as a “necessary expense”, “once in a lifetime”. ๅฅณไบบ็š„้’ฑๆœ€ๅฎนๆ˜“่ตš, right?

So well, I impulsively decided to get it down and called to fix an appointment. I didn’t even think of taking proper before and after pictures because I really didn’t realise people would be interested in my experience. The only picture I have of my freckles before my laser treatment would be this one:

Unfortunately, I’m wearing makeup in the photo so you can’t see my freckles in all their former glory, but you can still see them despite the fact that they’re partly covered by the makeup… which proves that they must have been really dark, right?

I took the last appointment slot (4.30pm) but the clinic was quite busy with customers streaming in so I actually waited more than half an hour before the doctor attended to me. He was very nice and upon examining my face, he took out a book and showed me the different kinds of pigmentation and told me I had not only freckles but also age-related pigmentation (that women in their 30s onwards would develop). One of his staff then applied numbing cream on my cheeks and I was left alone for about 15-20 minutes to let the numbing cream do its job. In the meantime, I could hear the doctor doing a treatment for another patient. The funny thing is that this clinic doesn’t even have a Facebook page or a website and yet it has many customers. My friend has been going to this doctor for years and recommended him highly, so I guess it must be one of the more reliable and affordable aesthetics clinics around.

When the doctor did the laser treatment for me, it was initially tolerable. The pain was minimal, kind of like IPL/being hit by rubber bands. BUT then he moved on to zap areas that his staff didn’t apply any numbing cream on – I think she failed to notice the freckles on other parts of my face since she only applied a very thin layer on my cheeks, sigh. So, the doctor was zapping freckles on the side of my nose, a corner of my upper eyelid, near my dark eye circles etc… AND IT HURT A LOT MORE. What made the whole experience evevn more scary was that I could smell my skin burning with each zap. When he was done, my cheeks started to feel really hot, like it was on fire. I got really scared and after I told them, they applied a cooling gel sheet mask for me, which helped to relieve the burning sensation. They also applied a healing cream for me.

Then, they passed me a mirror and I got a shock when I saw myself because all the spots that had been zapped were super red and swollen and I looked like I had mini welts. I wasn’t expecting to look that bad, but oh well, as long as it turned out to be effective, it would be worth it.

Check out how scarily crumpled and red my skin looked right after the laser:

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This is how I looked about three hours after the treatment:

And about eight hours after the treatment:

Generally still swollen, red, and slightly sore (not painful anymore though).

The laser treatment cost $300 but I paid an extra $260 for four products, including these two which I was told to start using immediately and the other two to use a week after:

I was really kiasu and bought the quick recovery cream because my skin looked so scary after the treatment that I would probably have bought ANYTHING to make it heal faster. Anyway, it has a light texture and was very quickly absorbed.

As for the sunblock, it had a lovely texture as well and glided onto my skin without feeling thick or oily. For an entire WEEK after the laser treatment, I did not wear any makeup at all and only used these two products religiously.

I also went out wearing a cap and a face mask to minimise sun exposure.

Over the next four days, the zapped spots started to grow darker until they became scabs. Some of them started to fall off. This is how I looked on the 5th day:

And here’s a collage showing my recovery process:

What do you think of the results? My doctor said I have two different kinds of pigmentation and I think he only targeted the freckles this time. I think the most obvious difference is the giant spot that was at the side of my eyelid. Most of the freckles are generally visibly lighter but I realised later on that there were several spots that he missed out on zapping, such as a freckle above my eyebrow, and several on my nose that probably look like blackheads but are actually freckles. Overall, I think the treatment was quite effective and I’ll head back soon for second round so he can work on the lighter patches of pigmentation and the remaining freckles… and this time, I’m going to make sure his staff applies enough numbing cream!

Psst – this is me in Bangkok’s sweltering heat, a week after the treatment, finally wearing makeup!

Click here for details for S&N Aesthetics Clinic, if you want to try them!

Japan Day 3: Kobe/Ikeda/Kyoto!

Our hotel was right outside Hankyu Minamikata station, so it was a great base for making day trips to Kobe and Kyoto (both accessible directly via Hankyu lines). Even better, Hankyu has a 2-day tourist pass that you can buy for 1200yen and get unlimited rides on all Hankyu lines in Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe!

Kobe was less than half an hour away from our hotel – yay! We made our way to Hankyu Kobe-Sannomiya station to hunt down Steakland, famous for their cheap Kobe beef set lunches. We arrived at about 12.30pm and queued for about an hour before we got in. We got so hungry while waiting that we snacked on some fried chicken from a shop nearby while we were in line.

We ordered a normal beef set lunch and the kobe beef set lunch (more than double the price) so we could share and compare the difference. In total, we spent 4,460 yen for our lunch. Very cheap for Kobe beef! Each set came with salad, pickles, miso soup, and a drink (coffee, orange juice, or tea).

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The good thing about Steakland is you get to sit at the teppan table and watch the chef cook your beef. Plenty of photo opportunities! Everyone else had their phones/cameras whipped out for the occasion.

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The chef cooks for several people at the same time so what you see here is actually our order + another couple’s order (they both ordered Kobe). Ours is on the left – the normal steak (150g) and the Kobe (150g). You can see the difference in the marbling.

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The chef knew we were sharing and gave us half-portions of both steaks. Normal on the left and Kobe on the right.

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Mario thought both were fantastic, and the Kobe was even more so, of course, but I didn’t have a good experience because my portions somehow had more tendons and were quite chewy. How unlucky! I guess you get what you pay for… This was certainly not the best beef I’ve had and I was quite disappointed with the quality of the “Kobe beef” – I thought it would be an eye-opening experience, but I guess my expectations were too high. Oh well!

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Next, we went to Ikeda station (not that near, but free to go to with our Hankyu pass as it was also accessible via Hankyu lines) to visit the Instant Ramen Museum! It was super fun!

You get to personalise your own cup noodles for just 300yen! First, you buy a cup from the vending machine.

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Then, you get a seat and access to coloured markers, and you can decorate your cup!

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Once you’re ready, you get your cup filled with noodles and ingredients! You have to pick your soup base and four different ingredients.

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I also took a video! (Click here to watch.)

On the way back to Ikeda station, we stumbled upon an Ippudo Ramen shop. OMG! We hadn’t tried it before, so we had to! They even had a special kind of shoyu ramen available only at the Ikeda branch, so Mario tried that:

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I opted to try their famous tonkotsu ramen…

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I was absolutely blown away by the quality of their chashu! It was so fatty, so soft, and melted in the mouth! The noodles were also the perfect consistency. However, I felt the soup was quite flat, and not as tasty compared to Ichiran Ramen’s version!

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Our meal at Ippudo came up to only 1660yen in total!

Next, we went to Kyoto! Our first stop in Kyoto was to cat cafe Neko Kaigi. The admission charge is 900yen for the first hour, and 200yen for a drink.

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The cats here are all rescued and non-pedigreed, unlike most other cat cafes. They seem to really like being patted vigorously on their rumps!

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Post-cafe cafe, we headed in the direction of the Kamo River to find a nice place to have dinner at. We were hunting for a reasonably-priced restaurant that offered yuka dining – it’s a summer tradition for many of the restaurants along the Kamo River to build special platforms OVER the river. The cool air of the rushing waters below help diners to beat the summer heat! Most of the restaurants that offer yuka dining, though, price it at a premium. You either have to pay extra (like a cover/table charge), or you have to opt for special set meals that are more expensive. Most options were kaiseki-style, priced around 7000yen – 15000yen. We found a few places that were reasonably-priced, but many of them were already fully-booked. In the end, we went to a nice sukiyaki restaurant where we paid 12,060yen in total (so about 6,000 for one set – one of the cheaper options around!).

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The marbling! Oh. My. God. Truly, this was way better than the “Kobe beef” we had for lunch.

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So fatty, so evenly distributed. Every bite sent shivers down my spine!

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(Click here to see a video of our yuka dining experience!)

After that very satisfying dinner, we went back to Osaka using our Hankyu Pass. Whew!

More of my work at Vanity Projects

I had a great time working at Vanity Projects because:

a) I was surrounded by talented nail artists, and it’s always inspiring to be working in such an amazing, creative environment!

b) The customers were so lovely! So friendly, so appreciative (can I just say how glad it makes me to know that the customer is happy with her nails?)… and have such awesome ideas for nail art!

c) I got to work on some amazing ideas (thanks to my customers) and you’ll see the results below… some of my favourite sets!

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Hopefully I’ll be back again! In the meantime, here are some pieces of me left for display at Vanity Projects!

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Beetlejuice set [Vanity Projects NYC]

Finally blogging about my time at Vanity Projects! This is going to be split into many parts though, because there are so many things I want to talk about, but I don’t have the time to do it all at once. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Today I’m sharing what is possibly my favourite set done at Vanity Projects NYC! This very lovely customer sent me Beetlejuice reference pictures in advance and let me do my thing!

I really had a lot of fun with this set because well… firstly it’s Beetlejuice! Who wouldn’t love Beetlejuice? There’s so much weird and crazy going on. I also got to stretch myself by going for realistic portraits on the thumbs… and then pretty much sped through the rest of the nails after spending forever on the thumbs. I love doing a marbled gradient as a base – something different, something interesting! And silhouettes – so strong, so fast, so easy!

ๆ—ฅๆœฌ่ชž

ใ“ใ‚“ใฐใ‚“ใ‚๏ผ

ใ‚ใŸใ—ใฏใ‚คใƒณใ‚คใƒณใงใ™ใ€‚ใƒใ‚คใƒชใ‚นใƒˆใงใ™ใ€‚IKOMAย ใฎๅญฆ็”Ÿใงใ™ใ€‚IKOMAย ใฏๆ—ฅๆœฌ่ชžใฎๅญฆๆ กใงใ™ใ€‚

So… I enrolled myself in intensive basic Japanese language lessons starting last Tuesday at Ikoma, determined to learn Japanese properly this time.

I took basic Japanese at Bunka previously, but because it was once a week, and also because it wasn’t very structured or rigorous (of course I only came to this conclusion after experiencing the amazing curriculum at Ikoma), I ended up not being able to learn well. That’s why I chose to go back to basics and get a good foundation so that I would be well equipped to move on to higher levels if I wanted to!

At Ikoma, my lessons are 3 hours daily on Mondays to Fridays. After my lesson, I go straight to work, and to try and make up for the time I’m taking off for my lessons, I’ve been accepting more late-night appointments. It’s only my second week of this intensive study+work juggling and I’m already starting to feel the strain. Oh no! I really hope I have the willpower to push through and complete the entire course (50 lessons in total for Basic level)… the lessons are getting increasingly more fast-paced and there are tests and homework everyday. Oh well…

ใŒใ‚“ใฐใฃใฆใญ!

Brasil World Cup nails!

I really like this simple set of World Cup nails I did last week for a customer who’s probably a Brazil fan! (Unfortunately, they didn’t make it past the semis but… oh well.)

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She picked the colours herself and opted for darker shades. My intern Tania prepped the manicure for me and did a great job cleaning the cuticles. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Then, all I had to do was to paint on a cropped and simplified version of Brazil’s flag, and then the shape of the country with a flag inside.

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Are you rooting for Argentina, Germany or The Netherlands now?

Pedicures in Pairs! [GSS Promo at The Nail Artelier@Kembangan]

Super awesome GSS Promo at The Nail Artelier@Kembangan! Perfect time for some feet pampering with a buddy or mom!

The Nail Artelier

Between 30 May 2014 and 27 July 2014, enjoy classic pedicures and foot spas at a special price when you come with a friend to our Kembangan Suites branch!

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If you havenโ€™t been to our Kembangan Suites branch yet, nowโ€™s the perfect time to sink into our comfy armchairs and enjoy a relaxing pedicure over a cuppa tea.

[Photo taken off @cherlyn_โ€™s Instagram page!]

Get your feet looking perfectly groomed with our classic pedicure ($38) โ€“ weโ€™ll shape your nails, tidy up your cuticles, rejuvenate your soles (more on that later!), paint your nails, seal the polish with quick-dry top coat, and nourish your cuticles with cuticle oil.

If you havenโ€™t already heard, our new Sole Rejuvenation treatment (part of our classic pedicure!) is really amazing. We use a buffing machine that smoothens the skin on your soles gently and efficiently โ€“ no blades involved at all โ€“ followed byโ€ฆ

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Limited Time Offer: Student Promo!

Finally, a promo just for students! FOC 2 floral nails when you get an express manicure (just $10!) at The Nail Artelier ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Nail Artelier

Say yay to the March school holidays with some colourful nail art!

Just for students (youโ€™ll need to flash your student card โ€“ any student card), get two nails of floral art (pick from this wheel) free when you get an EXPRESS MANI ($10) done at The Nail Artelier!

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To make an appointment, please call The Nail Artelier at 62988028 โ€“ do note that each appointment slot for this promo is 30 minutes so you have to be very punctual or we wonโ€™t be able to do the nail art for you!

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Gel Art Fad: Knitted Nails!

Cross-posted from The Nail Artelier xoxo

The Nail Artelier

Sometime in January, a customer of mine showed me a picture of a nail design with a knitted effect โ€“ basically cable knit sweater patterns done in an embossed style on the nail so it really pops. She later decided to save it for her next design, so I ended up doing it for her only in February. The result:

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At that time, the knitted nail design was starting to grow in popularity, so much so that there were even special classes offered to teach the design in Singapore. However, work is always hectic at The Nail Artelier, so when we donโ€™t have time to attend courses, we do the next best thing โ€“ we figure it out on our own. There are often many ways to do something, each via different tools/products, which in turn have their own distinct pros and cons. An analytical approach towards nail art isโ€ฆ

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Reblogged: Nailed It [Lupcheonginthered.blogspot.com]

Sharing this sweet post by Gent, Jenrine’s lovely photographer friend and senior from school. We owe him deeply for his help in shooting not only our opening weekend at The Nail Artelier, but also our competition entries for the photo submissions.

Once in a while you see your passion and a hobby get somewhere, and there is nothing but a thankful grace that comes along with it.

This is one of those times when faith – and I am as agnostic as they come – is returned in full fervour. An opportunity came up through a missed one for someone else, and a friend believed in me enough to fill that role.

The first two shots in this collection won her and her partner the Best Cover Photo and the Best Flat Art Photo awards in the recent Pink Room Cup 2013.

I’m the last person in the world to know about nail art and shooting these was the toughest photography gig I’ve ever undertaken. Lighting was not at all optimal, and all I had was tissue paper for light diffusion. Also, one ‘non-DSLR’ camera.

Now imagine you had to shoot these nails that also belong to Willabelle Ong of Pale Divison fame.

Fortunately it all worked out. Laughs were had. Stories were shared and I had the most interesting conversation with Willabelle’s grandmother that will stay with me for life.

Hell I don’t even recall the part where I took photographs that day – only the interactions I had with everyone present.

Along the way you discover your detractors will far outnumber those who believe in you because you too choose those you place your trust in. When those who believe in you ask of you, think thrice before you even consider saying no. This pays off in more ways than you can imagine.

To the wonderful Ying and Jenrine at The Nail Artelier, the lovely Willabelle and her grandmother, and one very accommodating lovely company and makeshift assistant who goes by channers

I’m thankful and I shall hope for more of such exquisite experiences.


Original post HERE.

Review: Restaurant Week at Little Diner

**I don’t know why my first two pictures uploaded like this! They’re were fine when viewed from my computer, but now you have to tilt your head to the side to see them properly. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Sorry!

Mr M and I made a dinner reservation at Little Diner during Restaurant Week after seeing the many rave reviews about the place. Well, I am really glad we went, because the place really is a gem. Service was warm and attentive while the food was well presented and executed.

Check out this handwritten table marker! Such intimate attention to details!

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We ordered drinks… but I can’t remember what they were. Tea and iced lemon tea? These days, I have really bad short term memory.

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My appetiser was an awesome sweet potato soup. I LOVE sweet potato, and this soup was done perfectly – flavourful and smooth, yet light at the same time.

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We also ordered truffle fries because I love truffle fries… unfortunately, these weren’t the kind that I like. I prefer the fries to be crisp and thin, with just a hint of truffle oil. These were thicker, with the skin on, and quite drizzled in oil so they seemed a little soggy to me.

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Mario’s appetiser – risotto balls. SO GOOD SO GOOD!!! Crispy on the outside, and cheesy risotto goodness on the inside. Heaven.

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My main – almond crusted salmon fillet with sweet potato puree. I thought this would have gone better with buttered mash because I already had sweet potato soup, and the salmon was so fresh and sweet that the sweet potato made the entire dish just a wee bit too sweet. The salmon was however done to perfection. I don’t know how they do it! I asked for well done, and it came out not only perfectly cooked, but so juicy and it really just melted in my mouth. Not dry and not tough at all. I was in awe. The almond crusted skin was also lovely in its texture – crunchy! The perfect complement to the soft buttery texture of the salmon. I am definitely going back for the salmon.

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Mr M had the meatloaf with mash. I heard he enjoyed it. The plate was licked clean.

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Dessert was less inspiring though. We had apple crumble, and the crumble on top had a lovely crunch, but the apple compote inside was just too watery… and we felt like we were drinking our dessert.

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All in all, we paid around $100 for our restaurant week dinner (it was a special deal at $35+ per pax for dinner, but we also ordered drinks and truffle fries…). I would totally recommend dining here!

Little Diner
789 Bukit Timah Road Singapore 26976
Lunch : 1130 โ€“ 1430
Brunch : 1100 โ€“ 1500
Dinner : 1800 โ€“ 2200
Dinner : 1800 – 2230
Phone: 6466 4088

Meet Ahmad

There’s a super friendly stray cat that roams the corridor outside my mom’s Bukit Batok HDB unit. Whenever I pay her a visit, I’ll look for it and play with it.

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On one such occasion, I found out that her (yes, it’s a female cat) name was Ahmad. As I sat cuddling her on the doorstep, my neighbour’s toddler son walked past and asked his mom in dismay, “Why is she playing with my Ahmad?!”

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I will never look at this cat the same way again.

Internship Position Available @ The Nail Artelier

#humblebrag time

The Nail Artelier is the best salon to work for if you’re a nailist who really LOVES nail art and are always up for a challenge. It would be pretty accurate to say that 95% of our customers get nail art done. Where else can you see that kind of statistic?

If you want to gain not just experience but serious skills, there’s no better place to turn to. Team TNA has three nailists (myself, Jenrine and Eloise) and all three of us not only graduated with a Distinction grade for our Diploma in Nail Technology from The Pink Room International Nail Academy, but have extensive experience with nail art.

We work really hard (because we’re usually fully-booked), but we also play hard (can’t say too much about that here… you’ll have to find out for yourself by coming on board). Most importantly, we’re not just a great team but a family – we look out for each other by pitching in whenever we can to help each other out.

We’re currently looking for an intern to help out with basic services and receptionist duties (we get a lot of phone calls and answering the phone slows us down when we’re serving customers!)… read on for the official hiring ad!

The Nail Artelier is an art-centric nail studio located in the eclectic, vibrant Haji Lane neighbourhood.

We welcome dedicated, motivated and service-oriented individuals who have a keen interest in nail art to join our team. We have one internship position available for a certified* nailist with a strong foundation in basic manicuring skills for both traditional nail polish and gel polish. Any relevant work experience or nail art skills will be a bonus, but are not necessary for the internship position.

As an intern, you must be able to commit to working at least four full days (12pm to 9pm), including Saturdays or Sundays. You will be able to gain work experience by providing manicure and pedicure services, with the opportunity to hone your skills under the guidance of our experienced senior nailists, who will mentor you in nail art. You will also receive one free gel manicure with nail art (worth $80) every month. During the internship, you will be provided with an internship allowance. At the end of the internship (3 months or earlier, depending on your performance), you may be offered a permanent position as a junior nailist.

To apply, please email thenailartelier@gmail.com with the following details:

– Name, age, contact number, number of years of relevant experience (if applicable), photos of relevant certification, photos or links to nail art portfolio (if any), and schedule (let us know how many days and which days you are able to commit to the internship).

*Applicants must be students or graduates of The Pink Room International Nail Academyโ€™s Diploma in Nail Technology, with at least a Professional Manicurist Certificate.

Getting back into shape

Confession: I haven’t gone to the gym in MONTHS. Despite forking out $140+ monthly in membership fees to Fitness First. All the sculpting achieved in the gruelling sessions with my Personal Trainer last year? Poof. Now I’m back to a wobbly mess/mass. ย 

This Wednesday I have the day off from work. I’m going to go to the gym. Must. Go. To. The. Gym.

Will pen a quick update on Thursday to report my success/failure. Night night!

Gel Mani: Diablo

Done with Angel Pro Gelly Polish in #29 (black)!

The Nail Artelier

Hi everyone!

Last weekend, I had a unique customisation request for Diablo-themed nails! For reference, my customer sent me some pictures in advance.

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Apart from the cover illustration and the icons for the special powers, she also sent me this picture which shows how the icons were used in a nail design:

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And this was my take on it!

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As requested, I did the cover art on one nail, and the fiery scratches on a couple of nails, with the icons on the rest of the nails.

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As you can see, the fiery scratches are a lot simpler compared to the rest of the nails. Instead of doing a full set of complicated art, mixing in a simpler design helps keep the overall cost of art lower. Here, the icons and the cover art count as customisation and start from $8/nail.

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I really enjoyed doing the icons because they requiredโ€ฆ

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Gel Mani: Alexander McQueen – Iconic Yellow Dress

Done with Angel Pro Gelly Polish in #9 (yellow). ๐Ÿ™‚

The Nail Artelier

Hi everyone!

Itโ€™s my birthday today but Iโ€™m a bit of a workaholic so here I am posting even though Jenrine told me not to do anything work-related. Oops! Actually, I woke up early from dreaming about the opening of the salon and my heart was racing so I couldnโ€™t go back to sleep after that. I guess I must be too excited and worried about all the work that needs to be done. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Soโ€ฆ here I am sharing this AWESOME design! I say awesome because itโ€™s based on a really beautiful Alexander McQueen dress, which Drew Barrymore is photographed wearing here:

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Iโ€™m loving the intricate lace details and the colour! I was thrilled when my client gave me this customisation request and asked for the dress details to be done on her nails with a clear base and yellow gradient.

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She gave me free rein to simplify theโ€ฆ

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