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Solid Evidences Learning Japanese Nail Art Is Good For Your Career Advancement

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Japan has become a master in the art of revisiting the world’s successes, adding a very special touch. Nail art is no exception and today, Japanese creations in this field are the most appreciated in the world. Here is a close-up on the search for perfection right down to the nails.

Kinoshita Mihori

Began working as a makeup artist in 1977. Studied photography and art design at the Tokyo University of Photography. After training in the United States as a special effects makeup artist and manicurist, she returned to Japan where she began working as an art director. In 1985, when the Japanese Nailist Association was founded, she became a member of the educational committee (now a member of the board of directors and chair of the project committee). She has been a beauty and look consultant for the biggest names in various fields, CEO of Yumi Creation since 1996, and is also the author of Rika-chan’s Manicure Book with Kinoshita Mihori (Gakken Marketing).

30,000 nailists in Japan

Do you know the profession of “nailist”? This Japanese neologism created from English refers to nail artists, also known in France as manicure artists or nail artists. The word nailist was coined by the Japanese Nailist Association, the main promoter of this profession in the archipelago.

Left: The Tokyo Nail Expo, organized by the Japanese Nailist Association every year in November, designated as “Nail Month”. In 2012, the 17th edition of this show attracted 54,000 visitors in two days (November 18, 2012 at Tokyo Big Sight). Right: the “Naitiful” contest, one of the highlights of the show. Participants are judged on their total look, from manicure to hairstyle to makeup and grooming worn (photo: Japan Nailist Association)

Kinoshita Mihori, one of the founders of the Japanese Nailist Association, is also one of the leading figures in the field. It is she who, in the 1980s, introduced in the Archipelago the nail extensions and developed a care system specific to Japan. In short, Kinoshita Mihori is the mother of Japanese nail art.

The “aesthetics of beauty”, a matter of skill

Tonomura Masako (Atelier Kinoshita Yumi), professional silver winner at the Naitiful Contest in 2012. “The attention paid to the client’s well-being in the salon, both over time and in space, is perhaps the greatest specificity of Japanese nail art.”

A total look created by Tonomura Masako: Japanese elements, such as the peony and the fan, blend perfectly with Western elements. A work that took a month and a half to prepare.
Ms. Kinoshita and the Japanese Nailist Association have made the most of Japanese manual skills to train nail artists who are now considered the best in the world. What does she think of the recent nail art boom?

“More and more women of all ages are practicing nail art. If nail art is so successful despite the current crisis, it is because it is a real “beauty aesthetic” that beautifies the body and the heart. Salon treatments also have a soothing effect. Nail art is more than a fad, it’s a beauty treatment in its own right.”

According to figures from the Japan Nailist Association, in 2011, the industry had a turnover of 208.5 billion yen, almost double that of six years ago. The number of nail art salons – 19,500 -, has also doubled in five years. For nail artists who work in salons, passing the Association’s exams is the mark of a true professional. Each year, more than 60,000 candidates take these exams, 1.6 times more than five years ago. There are 300 nail art schools in Japan (including courses integrated with beautician schools) and about 30,000 nail artists. We can hardly speak of a passing fad.

The “aesthetics of beauty”, a matter of skill

Ms. Kinoshita and the Japanese Nailist Association have made the most of the manual skills of the Japanese to train nail artists who are now considered the best in the world. What does she think of the recent nail art boom?

“More and more women of all ages are practicing nail art. If nail art is so successful despite the current crisis, it is because it is a real “beauty aesthetic” that beautifies the body and the heart. Salon treatments also have a soothing effect. Nail art is more than a fad, it’s a beauty treatment in its own right.”

According to figures from the Japan Nailist Association, in 2011, the industry had a turnover of 208.5 billion yen, almost double that of six years ago. The number of nail art salons – 19,500 -, has also doubled in five years. For nail artists who work in salons, passing the Association’s exams is the mark of a true professional. Each year, more than 60,000 candidates take these exams, 1.6 times more than five years ago. There are 300 nail art schools in Japan (including courses integrated with beautician schools) and about 30,000 nail artists. We can hardly speak of a passing fad.

Le gel UV, adapté au style de vie des femmes modernes

UV gel, adapted to the lifestyle of modern women
Nail art was born in the 1970s, with false nails made for Hollywood actresses. It was in the 1980s that the first salon in Japan opened its doors. How did nail art evolve after that?

Ms. Kinoshita answers: “Today, in Japanese nail art salons, nail gel is the most used. We cover the nail with a layer of liquid gel, which is hardened by ultraviolet rays and LED lamps. It is more flexible than manicure and the nails are less damaged. Since 2007, it is the most used technique in Japan.

Thanks to the fast drying, which is perfect for the hectic lifestyle of modern women, this technique is successful. With age, nails become more brittle, but the application of gel helps to strengthen them, and UV gel is now popular with both working women and housewives. It makes nails stronger and allows for voluminous decorations, which has greatly expanded the nail art palette.”

Japanese women like well decorated nails

What are the differences between Western nail art and Japanese nail art?

Ms. Kinoshita explains: “In Europe, women tend to look for healthy beauty and nails are kept simple, they are usually satisfied with a layer of color on natural nails. Among working women in New York, too, simplicity is the order of the day: a single color or a “French manicure” that leaves the nail its natural color, highlighted with a touch of white at the tip.

On the other hand, in Japan, people appreciate the gradations of colors and rhinestones or glitter on a plain background. In addition, many women like to regularly change the decorations on their nails. This type of nail culture, unique to Japan, called “Japanese nail art,” is widespread in Asia, including Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore or Vietnam.”

Many women visit a nail art salon for the first time on the occasion of their wedding. Nail extensions decorated with pearls and flowers on a pink or white base are a hit for the ceremony (left, created by Innocent Salon). Nails decorated with rhinestones and glitter (right, created by esNAIL).

LNail art at home

If some women go to nail art salons to be impeccable up to their fingertips, they are also numerous to practice nail art at home. This is perhaps one of the particularities of Japan, where many people are skilled with their hands. Nail care products for healthy nails, nail shaping tools, UV gel devices, polish, glitter and rhinestones… the range of items for home nail art is vast. This goes hand in hand with the growing number of women who have adopted nail art as a hobby.

Butterfly printing from Sha-Nail Pro. A product reserved for professionals, except in Japan where it is sold over the counter (photo: Props)
For those who lack confidence in their creations, there are also stickers that simply stick on the nails. Among the most refined items, the Sha-Nail Pro (marketed by Props), an ultra-thin film of 80 microns thick. Simply cut out the sheet of stickers printed with elaborate patterns, butterflies, flowers, etc., and apply the stickers, possibly playing with overlays to obtain complex creations.

Technological power, manual skill and a taste for customization: these are the ingredients of Japanese-style nail art, which is set to conquer the whole world!

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