2015 Nail Game Strong

Happy New Year! Ready for 2015! New goals & inspirations.

My client of about 2.5 yrs now (and now one of my good friends) has always done the same nail design since coming to see me for the first time in Hawaii. She always did the iridescent silver glitter gradation. A few times, we used gold, or this past Christmas we used some red, but silver glitter was her favorite & regular. But today…our first new set of the year, she decided to change up her nail M.O. and do something different.
She chose a very chic design with simple colors & clean lines.

It had been a while for me to actually do some nail art, and it was so much fun! I love the design on her– more importantly, she loves it!

Her usual “mermaid glitter” is just going to have to take a vacay for now.

Natural nail gel overlay: CalGel #46 & #04


The line down the middle going up from the tip of the triangle at the base of the nail gives the illusion of lengthened nails.

I am so excited we got to try something new. It’s not too crazy of a design; simple, but not boring. Very chic!

If you’re a creature of habit– especially with nail designs, why not change it up a bit and welcome 2015 with fresh nails!

Thanks for visiting, and remember to keep your claws modish!


P.S. If you’re in need of amazing mermaid jewelry to accompany your modish claws, check out her shop: Misha Hawaii on Etsy.
Instagram: mishahawaii
You’ll love it! ♡


☆To view a collection of my work over the past few years check out #sbaeknails on Instagram


Alien Attacks

Just before I moved to the Bay Area in February, I had one of my former co-workers at the nail salon in Hawaii treat me by doing my nails for me. This was the last time I had serious claws. We went all out!

I had selected several nail designs I liked, and used them as inspiration. I’m really into aliens and super natural. I think alien shapes and images make for cool designs– clothes or nails. Eyes & Evil Eyes I am obsessed with! I even have an evil eye bracelet tattooed on my wrist, I have Evil Eye jewelry, & I’m always thinking about what “eye” things I can get. I’m also totally & beyond into triangles. They are definitely my favorite shape. Gold is my favorite metal color, and I just loved the pink & purple colors of the 3D cone shaped stones. They were perfect with monochrome color scheme I went with.
Shadé did such an amazing job on my nails!




This nail set was a natural nail overlay using CalGel and Trump Gel.

These nails don’t necessarily have an obvious theme, except monochrome, lines & outlines. Don’t be afraid to mix-and-match and flirt with the “weird”.

Thanks for visiting, & remember to keep your claws modish.


Happy Holidays!

It’s been a while! 2014 was a crazy one! I moved to CA and am starting everything from scratch. I haven’t been doing nails at all! Terrible– I know! But I finally got around to doing it just in time for Christmas.







If you noticed, my nails are short! My claws have been filed down to little shorties since June! It’s crazy but with my new job, it’s just impossible to keep my beautiful class intact.

This design was created using CalGel and Trump Gel. This nail set is a natural nail gel overlay. Gold & clear iridescent glitters with different sized gold hexagon Splash! brand holograms.

I’ll try to do better about doing nails & posting! Thanks for visiting! Happy Holidays & remember to keep your claws modish!



It’s a birthday celebration!

Last week Thursday was one of my best best best friends’s birthday. So, I decided I would get her nail-ready for a night out with her hubby.

She’s very much into art and loves Frieda Cahlo and the Dia de Los Muertos themes. About a year ago, I did a day of the dead skull print for myself and she really loved it. So, we decided to go with a pastel & sugar skull theme.

My girl is super super small. And unfortunately that comes with incredibly small fingernails. Not only that, but due to stress, she can’t keep her nails long at all. So, we had to put tip extensions on all 10 fingers and extend them a little. Her nails were too short, so I was unable to use a sculpting form, that’s why we used the plastics tips.

Anyone who is trained properly knows not to apply the tip on directly onto the nails, but rather lay a thin layer of gel onto the natural nail, then apply the tip. Tips are difficult bc they need to be sized correctly according to each nail. Applying the tips without air pockets is also key. And last, but not least, blending. Blending is very important and can also be difficult. Blending is especially important when painting the whole nail with gel bc if its not done perfectly, you will be able to see every imperfection.

I haven’t done too many extensions yet, so this was good practice for me. Luckily she is so patient and sat through with me. The end result came out pretty great, and best of all, my bestie loved it!


20130206-023905.jpg These are tip extension gel overlay using Trump Gel. The colors are CalGel. The holograms are by Eriko Nails, and I used to regular acrylic paint to hand draw the sugar skulls.

Happy birthday to my wonderful, beautiful bestie! She is an amazing friend, wife, and mother!

Thanks for visiting, and remember to keep your claws modish!


Pop Nails

After, literally, hours of looking at and debating on designs, I decided on my first nail set of 2013. Whew.

Sometimes, I can easily get an idea on a design from inspiration from an outfit, or client’s nails, the weather, season, or even just a color.
Other times, it takes me forever to decide on something. Often times, this happens because I want to do everything, but I own limited colors of gels and/or nail art accessories.

This time, I had the latter and had a huge nailist’s block and couldn’t think if an exact design.

My mother just brought me back 5 new nail magazines from Japan and bunch of cool new gels, accessories, and holograms & glitters.
I think I was so excited about all my new toys that it made it harder for me to make a decision.

I ended up getting my inspiration from one of the new magazines, “Super Gel Nail, Design Maniax”:



I had to sub the yellow for something else because I haven’t gotten myself any yellow gel yet. Instead, I went with matte white with sprinkles of neon hologram. And instead of the star on the pink polka dot nails, I added on single stone. This is what I came up with:





20130113-031936.jpg These were done using CalGel (CG04; 18 mix 06), Trump Gel (Base; Hard top), and Naility Gel (matte white). The holograms come in one container with mix of neons and sheer neon flakes, and are by Splash.
I drew the hearts myself. They were done using gel– just like the polka dots.
And, of course, now that my nails are longer, I had to point them and shape stiletto nails. The claws are back!

My first nail set of 2013 are stiletto pop art nails! Happy New Year (again), y’all!

Thanks for visiting and remember to keep your claws modish!


Sister Act

It’s been a really long while since my last post. I’m so sorry. It’s been a crazy end of the month, as in sure it has been for everyone.

Anyway, today, I had the pleasure of doing two nail sets back-to-back, for two very gorgeous & special sisters!

One of my besties is back from SF to visit again, and today I did her nails and her not-so-little-anymore little sister’s nails also. Last time she came, I did the Dripping Hearts design.
Today…well…she was slightly more ADD. But it turned out super fun and really cool!

Her sister planned it out more and had an underlying color scheme: blue, gold, black & white. Mega edgy yet glitzy.

I had so much fun with these girls. And it’s great when I have so much freedom with the art.

They both gave me a quick sketch of what they were thinking and then we worked around it. Making some changes along the way, too.

20121226-225058.jpg Top: Baby sis // Bottom: Big sis

Little Sis: Trump Gel & CalGel. Designs done with acrylic paint. Drips, holograms, glitter, stripes, & cheetah/leopard print!!

Big Sis: Trump Gel & CalGel. Coral, red, white, black, glitter, hologram, cross, polka dots, stripes, & cheetah/leopard.

Thank you for coming in, ladies!! I had tons of fun!!

I will do my best to be better about posting again. Thanks for being patient.
Thanks for visiting, and remember to keep your claws modish!


“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christ-maaaaas~”

I have already been getting several holiday nail requests, since the gel nails last for such a long time. 95% of my clients wear gel nails, and they have been coming in to me since the beginning of the month to get their holiday nails started. As mentioned in the previous post, gel nails can last for 4-6 weeks without fills, and if filled, even longer. Therefore, I have done some designs that are all-out-Christmas for clients who plan to wear it for the rest of the year, and some simpler designs for those who plan to fill.

I only did a few holiday designs last year, and so I am excited that I have been getting more original holiday design requests this year. I am pumped to do even more than designs as it becomes closer to Christmas!

One thing I love about holiday designs is the many different options you have. It seems repetitive because its the same color schemes: white, blue, red, green, silver, and gold. And everyone wants snowflakes, stars, and poinsettias. However, when you think about it, you CAN get creative. The options are endless: Starry night, winter wonderland, Santa & the Northpole, glamour & glitz, argyle, plaid, holiday present, Disney Christmas, Hanukkah, and the list goes on. Have a go with your holiday nail designs! Don’t limit yourself to the usual suspects– think outside the box and get creative.

Here are some holiday nails from last year:

20121123-204302.jpg This pedicure is a simple gradation done with polish. Glitzy red glitter.

20121123-204439.jpg (Sorry it’s so blurry). Some Christmas-y 3D pieces I made with acrylic powder.

20121123-204541.jpg This one is actually a fill done over a natural nail overlay. She had a pinkish colored glitter gradation originally, and I added some goldfish glitter, and some red and gold holograms to make it more holiday. I used CalGel for this gel nailset.

20121123-205049.jpg This one is also a fill over a natural nail gel overlay done using CalGel. She wanted to go “super Christmas” with her nails. This one was done 2.5 weeks before Christmas. This is one of my favorites. It is so glitzy and festive.

20121123-205716.jpg A holiday pedicure done using polish. Dark red color with silver glitter over, and some snowflake stickers.


20121123-210017.jpg A natural nail gel overlay using CalGel. This design is very sentimental for me. I “inherited” this client, Ms. C, from my mentor & her former nail tech. In fact, her first nail tech was my nail academy teacher. I was so honored to be her new technician, since they are both amazing technicians and superior artists. This was my very first nailset with Ms. C. She never has an idea in mind, and she does not bring any designs, nor pick one out of the salon’s design books, and I am lucky if she gives me a hint on what color schemes she wants. I found this design idea from one of the iPhone nail apps, called Girls Pic. I did a simple glitter gradation, then I hand painted the design and used silver ab holograms to accent the design. Mrs. C is a very inspiring woman. 86– going on 87 and she is still so full of life. She always gives me life advice, and she is always dressed impeccably, from her hair to nails, clothes to accessories. Wonderful woman and client. She always challenges me as a nailist to creative original designs.

Stayed tuned for part 2 of this blog: This year’s designs. Coming soon.

Thanks for visiting, and remember to keep your claws modish!


Nude glitter exists…I swear.

Before becoming a nailist (aka nail tech) I worked in retail for 10 years; 8 of which were in management positions. Over time, I worked at some premier luxury stores. Although each store had its own dress code, rarely did I encounter any with strict guidelines for nails (thank the maker!). If they did have a rule about nails, they were usually overlooked and often disregarded. Even corporate management didn’t scold us. In fact, once I was complimented by a district manager on my nail game. At that time, I was studying for my first round of LSATs, and told her jokingly that if law school didn’t pan out, I was going to become a nail tech. And what do you know! Instead of turning in my law school apps, I enrolled in nail school the very next year.

But since becoming a nailist, I have encounter more and more clients who are experiencing very strict dress code at the workplace– especially in regards to their nails. Some clients who used to “get away” with breaking or bending the rules are now unable to because companies are enforcing their dress code more. Most of these clients hold positions in retail or hotel industry. Where premiere luxury stores and lower rated hotels rarely had strict nail dress code or enforcements, they do now. So, obviously, high end luxury retail and hotels are doing the same.

It used to be that only professional career fields like medical and legal, or office jobs and food industry had conservative nails. But I always thought here in America, especially in Hawaii, people were much more laid back in terms of professionalism and attire.
In Asia, most schools K-12 or jobs do NOT allow any nail polish or enhancements. But in America, French manicures, nude tones, or even classic red polishes– as long as the nails were a decent length– have often times been viewed as acceptable nail dress code.

So why, all of a sudden, has there been a shift in strictness in nail dress code and/or the enforcement of it?

  • Is it the increase of large corporate companies; creating a need for uniformity?
  • Is it because the world of nail art has been taken to a whole different level of creativity and intensity?
  • Is it due to the growing numbers of luxury retail stores who believe associates cannot out-shine the clients?
  • Could it be the rise of demanding and rigid competition between hotel appearance and service?
  • Whatever the reason, strict and heavily enforced nail dress codes have become a serious heartache and hindrance on all nail art lovers.

    Buuuuutttttt…we often try to bend or break the rules somehow anyway. We try to add a little here, or cover our enhancements with some boring polish, or reason with our employers on why expression of nail art should be allowed (within reason).

    I always thought nails done looked better than naked nails that are unkept. It looks cleaner to have polished or gel nails versus naked nails that show more dirt & imperfections. You care for your nails more when they are done, not when they are naked. And working in retail, having a unique nail set always was a great ice breaker between my client and me. And when they like your nail design, they trust your taste, and consequently, they tend to take your opinion and buy more products from you. But, what do I know…I’m biased, right?

    With all that being said…I have done a natural nail overlay gel nail set for one of my good friends. She needed “nude” nails. But we discovered her new job has a fairly strict dress code. I guess we will find out soon enough how much they enforce it.

    We did a pink-beige color, the ring fingers are “nude glitter”, and skinny little glitter heart outline on the thumbs. Ok, to us, the glitter we chose is totally nude. This glitter is “nude,” I swear. It’s like a champagne. Champagne is pretty much a nude…right? So, logically speaking (can you tell I have been studying for the LSAT too much), champagne gold glitter is nude.

    It’s a design I really like. Simple and sweet.

    Check it out, what do you guys think? Let me know. Her mother & husband disagrees with us. But, what do they know?

    20120930-043438.jpg Natural nail overlay using CalGel (mixed #46, #19, & #01). Glitter comes in a tower of 6 from Claire’s .

    Thanks for visiting and remember to keep you claws modish!


    Dripping Hearts

    So…my “special client” came in yesterday and got her nails diiiiiiid. After all the sketches, you might be wondering, “Which sketch / nail design did she choose?” Well…the wait is over!

    She picked the very first sketch I did with the dripping design and the hearts!!

    Since we want it to last, I gave her gel nails. We used CalGel. I did a natural nail overlay on her, except her left hand ring finger. I put a tip extension on that nail to give it a little more length.

    She wanted the shape to be more of a point– stiletto nails. We were concerned that they may be too short, but they turned out alright. Her nails were just long enough to create a nice point. I have noticed that the stiletto nails are becoming more and more popular in the U.S. it has been around in Japan for a while now, but since Lady Gaga and Rihanna, I have been seeing it make an appearance and become a request much more now. I guess fashion is cyclical. Remember waaaaaaay back in the days?! I swear some grannies still rock the pointed nails!

    Stiletto nails are awesome, but a few tips to remember if you are planning to rock them:

  • Be very careful when you are filing to shape them. Make sure you are careful not to saw your nails– always file left-to-right // right-to-left. File slowly when you get to the stress point area. That is the the halfway point of your whole nail. Where the skin and nail meets on the side. You can weaken the nail and cause cracking if you file top roughly, or “saw” your nails.
  • Do NOT treat your nails as tools; treat them like jewels! Your nails are not meant to do hardwork, so pamper them. Use your knuckles to press buttons (i.e. elevator buttons, microwave buttons, seatbelt buttons, etc.), and use the pads of your fingertips to type, lift zippers, button shorts, etc. Unlike the square shape, they are not as strong in shape.
  • If you are going to do gel nails, make sure you file even more narrow than you like, because the gel will expand the nails. File a sharper point if you are using gel, because when you cap the edge, it will slightly round out and become more blunt.
  • The design is very simple as far as concept and color. I used black (#04; no extra pigment) and white (#01) in the gel. The glitter is a magenta // dark pink color by Eriko (sorry, I forgot to take a look at the number). I drew and payed out the dripping design initially with acrylic paint, then went over it with the gel to give it more dimension and shine of color. I used two “Chanel” inspired logo holograms: the middle finger on the right hand and ring finger on the left hand. I also threw on some small gold holograms by Eriko on the glitter nails.

    This design is fairly easy to do, and it was SO much fun! I am so happy I got to work on her nails. I love having so much freedom and creativity. Such a beautiful girl with a beautiful soul. I hope you all enjoy them, as well!




    20120920-034454.jpg My trusty gel brushes. THE best.

    So, what do you guys think? Did we pick a good nail design? How do you like it?

    Thanks for visiting, and remember to keep your claws modish!