Nailed It

Unfortunately, I was never blessed with the skill of perfecting an at-home manicure. Whenever I paint my own nails and display them to a friend, I keep my fingers moving quickly so they can't witness the polish stains all over my hands. Therefore, I really appreciate a good manicure, it's like a new haircut. You just want to flaunt! Personally, I leave it to the experts for basically all things beauty. A friend of mine recently told me about JRS Nails. The owner of JRS Nails's Jessica, is a serious pro. She provides creativity and flair for clients with full nail services in the comfort of your own home. Considering, Spring has sprung and Summer is just around the corner (let's hope), I thought it would be perfect timing to interview Jessica on tips and trends.

How did you get started with JRS Nails? What services do you offer? 

I would say that I’ve always had an interest in nails. In recent years my Mom and Godmother would always have me paint their nails because they thought I did a good job. They kept encouraging me to take a Nail Technician course to learn how to give a full manicure so that they could have me do their manicures, rather than go to a salon. For a while I put it off, or made excuses as to why I didn’t have time. Then one day, I thought, why wouldn’t I want to learn how to properly do something I have such an interest in? So I stopped making excuses and decided to look in to where I could do this. I chose the Nail Technician program at George Brown School of Makeup and Esthetics. I had heard great things about the program, and I had learned that my teacher was going be the lead Nail Artist for Essie Canada, someone I had been following on Instagram and really loved her work.

It was here, where my passion for nails really grew and I knew I wanted to pursue it. I had gotten a job at a popular nail bar in Toronto to gain some experience. I also started JRS Nails so I could offer in home services for people who wanted to get a manicure and/or pedicure in the comfort of their own home. JRS Nails also allowed me to create my own schedule and have it as a side business. I now offer full manicures and pedicures with the option of regular polish or Shellac, French mani/pedi, nail art, and high shine buff, for those who prefer a clean, no polish look.

Any tips for achieving a perfect manicure at home? What one tip would you give girls who want to look after their nails?

Most people have a little difficulty painting their own nails, at least on one hand, depending on which hand is their dominant. And I would agree that it is slightly more challenging to give yourself a manicure, or paint your own nails. However, for the last 3 years I’ve been painting my nails several times a week, so I’ve spent a lot of time perfecting it.

One tip I would give, something that I still do when painting my own nails, is to start painting with your less dominant hand. That way you’re using your “weaker” hand first and you don’t have to worry about smudging the wet polish on your other hand. Then use your writing hand to paint the other hand, which won’t be as tricky because you’re more comfortable using that hand and you’re probably more precise.

The other thing I do is leave my thumbs until the end. Sometimes when you’re painting you get a little polish on the skin and you need to wipe it off, or you want to fix an un-even line near the cuticle. I often use my thumb nail to fix these mistakes, except when I’m providing a service I will use an orangewood stick or a brush to clean up. So if you leave your thumbs until the end you can use them as “tools” to help you achieve a cleaner manicure. Then just be very careful painting your thumbs at the end.

Many people prefer not to wear nail polish, but would still like to have well-groomed hands. While some people think this is for vanity, I believe nail care is part of body maintenance, the same way a wax, a haircut, or even showering are. For these people, the best way to look after your nails is to keep your hands clean and apply moisturizer whenever possible to keep hands from getting dry. Using a cuticle oil is also something I would recommend, you can apply it either before or after the moisturizer. If you only remember to do this once a day, the best time is to do it at night before you got to bed, as this is the longest amount of time your hands won’t be handling anything and you won’t be washing them. It will really give the moisturizer and cuticle oil time to absorb in to your skin. These things are all very budget friendly! Keeping nails even by cutting them to your desired length and filing away rough edges will also help keep things looking fresh.

What tips do you have when visiting a new salon? How can you determine their cleanliness?

Recently, people have started to pay attention to the salon’s they’re choosing for these types of services. We’ve all heard crazy stories of people getting infections from unsterile tools, or unsanitary foots baths, etc. This is starting to be taken more seriously in Ontario, and nail salon’s are being forced to keep things clean, if they haven’t been already. That being said, it is still important to take proper precautions for your own safety and peace of mind.

Chop shops, who aim for quick turn over would be my first caution sign. Tools need to properly be cleaned in between customers and that takes time, so when you’re in a salon try to take notice of what’s going on around you, where are the tools being taken after they’re used, simply rinsing tools is not an acceptable way of sterilizing. How are foot baths being cleaned? Are they sitting there unclean for a while after a customer leaves? Pay attention to these things, if something doesn’t look or feel right, go with your gut, and find a different salon next time.


Some salon’s will use files and buffers only once, on one individual, and then throw them out; this is good, because they are tools that can’t be properly sterilized. Bring your own if that makes you feel more comfortable. If you are able to purchase your own tools from the salon, do it, that way you know they’re only being used on yourself.  

What are the colors you’re loving now? What is your all-time favourite go-to color?

This is a tough question to answer. I love so many colors, but they change depending on my mood, my outfit, special occasions and the time of year. They are just too many factors that affect this answer. Right now I’m enjoying the brighter colors with Spring coming, I’m moving on from the darker shades. If I had to choose a go-to color, I would say a nude pink, such as: Ballet Slippers or Mademoiselle by Esssie, Step Right Up by OPI, Romantique or Beau by CND Shellac.

Everyone needs a basic neutral color, that suits their skin tone and that they love to look at. These colors are classic, timeless, they go with everything, they tend not to chip as quickly, and they’re less noticeable when they do. However, chipped nail polish is awful, and should be taken off as soon as possible. Wearing chipped nail polish, in my opinion, is like ripped pants to a job interview, a big no.

What are the up-and-coming nail trends for spring and summer 2015?

The latest trend that took over the Spring runways is “negative space”. This means letting part of your nail to show through a design. For example, the half moon manicure leaving the moon shape at the bottom of your nail bare, or vice versa. Another current trend is the matte look. Nail brands, such as Essie, have come out with matte color collections, to which a matte top coat would be applied to keep the matte finish. You can also use a matte top coat on a regular polish to create the matte finish.

What nail trends do you believe should retire?

While trends can help us stay in style, the most important thing is that you feel good in how you present yourself. Feeling good helps us feel confident. Not all trends will be your cup of tea, and that’s ok, you don’t have to like everything that’s trending if it doesn’t look good to you. I personally have never liked the matte look. I don’t think it suits my hands, and I constantly look at it and feel like it looks unfinished. For me, this look should be retired.

Although I’m not sure this would be considered a current trend, the thick white tips on a French manicure should also be retired. This takes a classic nail look and turns it in to something outdated. A thin white tip that suits the length of your nail always looks the most natural and looks the best. 

Do you suggest matching your Mani/Pedi or choosing different colors?

People often ask me if I think it’s weird to match your manicure to your pedicure. I’m not sure where this started, but I do not think this is weird. Sometimes you just really like a color and you want it on your hands and your feet, some colors suit your hands and feet, so why not? If being too “matchy-matchy” is your concern than perhaps this look is not for you.

I was recently on vacation and decided to match my mani to my pedi, I loved it. Picking a nail polish color is always the hardest part and sometimes the best thing is to keep it simple. Most of the time I do wear different colors on my hands and my feet; but even if they aren’t the same color, I do prefer when the two colors compliment each other. This comes down to personal preference.   

Where do you get your ideas and inspirations?

I follow a lot of nail artists on social media and get a lot of ideas from them. Brands, such as Essie share many nail looks and how-to videos, which are also great for ideas. I like practicing different techniques and types of nail art.  Magazines are great for getting ideas, but sometimes something will just pop in to my head, a color, or a look, and I’ll just feel like trying it out. There are times I’ll be in the middle of painting my nails one way and it will end up as something totally different.

Do you prefer gel nails, shellac or regular polish?

Shellac, shellac, shellac! I love it, once I learned how to do it I have never looked back. The biggest frustrations when painting your nails or getting a manicure is waiting for the polish the dry, and then having it chip within a day or 2. Before I knew much, or anything, about shellac I was kind of against it. I had tried it once or twice and decided it ruined my nails.

The truth is, of course it ruined my nails, I peeled it all off, instead of going to get it removed properly. Peeling off shellac, gel, acrylic, etc is so bad for your nails! It’s like peeling off a scab. When you peel these things off you could be peeling off layers of your nail with it. This will create ridges in your nails, make them feel weak, and probably a little sore. This has nothing to do with the polish, and everything to do with the way it is removed. Shellac is not harmful to your nails, this is a big misconception, and one of my pet peeves when people who aren’t well informed make these statements.

Gel polish, not to be confused with Gel nails, is similar to shellac, the main difference is the type of light that is used to set the polish. Shellac is a brand of CND, like Kleenex is a brand of tissue, and it uses a UV light. Gel polish uses an LED light. There are some people who think the UV light is harmful, however the exposure to UV light is extremely minimal, and not at all the same as lying in a tanning bed. Typically the shellac UV lamp consists of 4 bulbs that are 9 watts each, in comparison to a tanning bed which typically has about 12 bulbs that are 100 watts each. Even still some people are not comfortable with this, and that’s ok.

Gel polish is a good alternative as it uses an LED lamp, and has very similar results as shellac. Both Shellac and Gel polish have zero dry time after it’s been cured under the lamp and is meant to last up to 2 weeks! How can you not love this? But please, if you are going to use Shellac or Gel, get it removed, or learn how to remove it, properly and keep those nails healthy!

Do you believe the quality in high-end designer polishes actually makes a big difference in comparison to drug store brands?

When it comes to regular polish (ie: not Shellac/Gel) I don’t think there is a huge difference between most of the polishes out there in terms of how long they last. I think a lot of it comes down to personal preference based on things like, the shape of the bottle, how easy it is to hold, the width and size of the brush, the colors, the names of the colors, the ingredients can even be a factor, and the price.

I would always recommend using a base coat to protect your nail and prevent staining, as well as a top coat, both are important when it comes to how long your polish will last and finished look. There are some exceptions, CND Vinylux doesn’t require a base coat, but it does require the use of CND Vinylux topcoat. Matte colors apply better without the use of a base coat. I’ve tried many different brands of polish, as I’m sure many people have, and I’ve learned that it really is a personal preference, but for every day wear the drug store brands are just as good as higher end ones.

The latest trend that took over the Spring runways is “negative space”. This means letting part of your nail to show through a design. For example, the half moon manicure leaving the moon shape at the bottom of your nail bare, or vice versa. Another current trend is the matte look. Nail brands, such as Essie, have come out with matte color collections, to which a matte top coat would be applied to keep the matte finish. You can also use a matte top coat on a regular polish to create the matte finish.

Follow JRS Nails on Instagram @jrsnails 

All photos courtesy of JRS Nails  

If you'd like to get in touch with Jessica to make a booking, please contact