What is competition, the good the bad and the ugly.

What is competition, the good the bad and the ugly.



The spirit and meaning of competition:

 First we need to ask ourselves, what exactly is competition ?

 The definition is this:

 “ The activity or condition of striving to gain or win by defeating or establishing superiority over others”

  “ An event or contest in which people take part in order to establish superiority or supremacy in a particular area”

 These are not my words these are the words published by the oxford dictionary. But for the rest of this blog, please always have that in your mind.

 Nail competition has been a huge part of our industry for many years. Bringing techs together from all over the world. Usually at the large shows and also small offshoots and private group/product comps and more recently, international comps have taking the scene by storm. Most of them now online since covid, making comps more accessible for all.

 Along with covid has come the unfortunate decrease in competitors and lately I’ve seen so many competitors feel they are not “ good enough” to compete, or that the “same people” are winning comps. Seeing all of this I felt compelled to write a bit about it as this is obviously a big reason why these comps are struggling to pick up pace .

 In any competition whether it be sport or drawing or a pub quiz even, it see competitors playing to win, working hard and fighting for their place. The goal of competition is to win. But winning is not the purpose of competing. The reason why we compete is because competition, should,  bring out the very best in us and push us to become better at our craft. Winning is just the bonus, a goal,  winning is what we strive for but the true reason is accomplishment. Entering competitions brings innovative works never seen before, it brings teams/individuals together, it brings confidence and sees skills improve. I’ve met some of my most dear and precious friends on the competition circuit.

 If your choice is not to enter because you feel at a disadvantage, how can you ever know or improve or become as good as those you feel are advantageous ?

 I was fortunate enough to speak to scarlet brown, 6 times karate world champion . Scarlet has competed around the world in many competitions from the age of 12.

 “ In the beginning I wasn’t winning, I was so far behind the winners I was seeing. I decided to move clubs where winners were emerging and training was to compete . The club was miles away from my house but we went most days so I could train to be the best. I then started to win. Some competitions there was bias, I knew that, you get it in life, but I competed anyway. I had to for my own self development. Sometimes winning is not coming first, on many occasions people came up to me after competitions with praise and admiration and saying I should of placed, that meant just as much to me that someone else appreciated my work and I felt so good knowing my work had been seen and that I was good at what I did. One of the things I always say is that , when others people are not training or off their game on what they are doing, that’s when you need to keep training, to become better, that’s your advantage!”


This is from a 16 year old who’s attitude was this at the age of 12. We can learn a lot from our younger generation. Mature words from a strong young lady. And ones i think we as an industry can learn alot from. 

Those that are seen frequently winning competitions, do just that, just what scarlet has said.

 I am aware of 1 tech who travels all over the world training with various other nail technicians. I know they spend £10000s on their development. I also know they practice ridiculous amounts of hours. They don’t always win, but they work hard to and are successful most of the time, and good for them.

 I myself have had a similar experience. I was once a “ newbie” . It took me 6 years to get my first win. Through tears and frustration, not seen by the public eye.  Walking to the arena every time to hand in my work I always felt I had a good chance as I was proud of my work, only to be met with disappointment as others were so much better than mine and good for them ! After leaving Always feeling like I wasn’t good enough, it spurred me on to put more and more effort in. I trained with many techs from around the world, practiced and  I didn’t mind putting the effort it because every time I entered, I was just a little bit closer. I had to learn to take my losses and turn them into something positive. But I am aware not everyone can do that. But in competition, you have to have some ability to learn from disappointment and take the feedback given from those that are chosen to give it, those that have been in your exact position before,  regardless of whether you want to hear it or don’t agree with it.


May I add, The same group of techs seemed to be winning everything even back then ! They were at the top of their game and I wanted to be too. This pushed me to keep trying and failing until I achieved my goal. My aim was for  self-improvement, as long as it took, and that golden holy grail we all want so much came, the win. I may never of got win, but I did, and that piece meant the world and more to me. It took me 6 months, every single day, doing redoing, sticking throwing in the bin, frustration, planning, learning, not seeing my children, neglecting myself and my family. I walked away with 98/100 and a piece of work that has become respected and admired. So when I say I hear you, I truly do.


 Those techs I competed against, i still admire. I still look up to and have a huge amount of respect for them as they too were part of my journey and I’d never take their wins away, as they were deserved. This is the spirit of competition.

 In every avenue of life there is always someone better than you, someone who just gets it right every time. But never disrespect their journey, unless you actually know it, because anyone who’s walked in your shoes from the start , wouldn’t and shouldn’t,  disrespect yours.

Now there are going to be those techs that don’t have to try, that just seem to be brilliant at everything. Don't discredit them, be kind , Good for them !! That isn’t a choice they made, that’s just them. Some techs take longer to reach personal goals, and that’s fantastic too. We are all different, I for one would not want us to all be the same.

This then leads me to mental health of competitors and our jobs as mentors and educators. Mental health in any competitive situation, can be affected. As any sportsperson or competitor of anything, you put yourself in a situation where your mental health is at risk. ALL competitions are accessible and open to anyone, any level. It is up to that individual If they feel they are able to compete in it and if they are able to mentally, emotionally and physically cope with the task ahead and the results/ outcome of the task. As adults, we are responsible for making these decisions based on what we know. No one can make those decisions for you but there are those out there that can support and guide you. Not set you up to fail. That is not educating people.


Leaning on industry mentors :

If you are an educator, it is imperative that we give honest and constructive feedback to ALL our students. That is what we are looked up to for, solid honest guidance. If someone was asking me for competition advice, I would ensure they are well informed. I would ensure myself and my student,  look at the  level of work in the competition from previous years and study some of the competitors work they will be up against. I would want to see their work  in person (where possible), not on a picture so I can inspect every part with my naked eye. I Know how comps are judged and exactly what they are looking for and marking on. I would be advising my student of the work needed and improvement required in a constructive and honest but encouraging way, this is to ensure I protect their mental health and not lead them into a situation that could knock their confidence or make them feel inadequate. That would be the last thing I would ever want to do. Sometimes this lack of honesty from educators, and I’ve seen the fall out form this first hand, can lead to disappointment and devastating effects leading to feelings of inadequacy. Ultimately not winning/placing will make them feel they will never be good enough. Please Remember, no 2 competitions are the same, standards/skills do vary massively  from comp to comp and benchmarks are very very different, again as an educator, this is for you know/find out and decide on how to carry this forward with your student and create a firm honest plan with them on their progression through these competitions, and set realistic and achievable goals. All these goals should be there to develop, motivate and encourage and get the very best work from your students. It DOES NOT matter if this work is winning work.


So what competitions should we enter ?

Entering the competition is a massive step, there are so many out there. And there also seems to be the divide on unrecognised and recognised competitions.

Sore sticking point. I have views but I’ll try and explain where I feel this is sitting and being understood or misunderstood.

 Again I took the internet to get the true meaning of this;

 Recognised : “ provided with a secure reputation”

                      “ accepted”

                      “ Notable , distinguished, honoured”

                      “to recognise something as previously seen, known etc”


Un recognised:

                        “ not given deserved attention or notice”

                        “not identified, detected or known”




There are institutions/competitions within the industry that have been running successful competitions for years. Recognised. Secure reputable and accepted.


Nailympia, Scratch, Pro beauty, The Guild and more recently the FNP. Known as floor competitions (however have been online during covid) These have been around, and a staple, for many years. Recognised by the industry and competed in by 1000000s from all over the world. Judges too flock from all over the world to judge them, competitors come from all over the world to compete in them. Usually divisions and categories are in place, to ensure a fair competition for all levels. Feedback is given as standard and competitors are shown and work open for all to see if required. Please bear in mind, even in divisions, the skill in each division will vary greatly . Judges are expected to be available for feedback. Nothing is hidden judging is blind. Floor judges do not judge behind the screen so no hands/work etc can be identified. Boxes are unmarked usually marked by a number.


Then, There are new competitions coming onto the scene, international online cups and comps that are becoming ever popular but have not yet been given the deserved attention or identified and remain uncelebrated , at this point in time. Entry is online, judging is done online. This does not make them any less of a competition, it’s just not as widely known or reputed as others within the industry here in the uk…..YET.  We have to give them time. Eventually they will become recognised with time and reputation. Generally these comps do not provide feedback and you do not know how many are in your category or see anyone’s work. Again some people prefer this and it’s an individual choice. Some competitors prefer feedback, as feedback is what we need for progression and having peers to compete against and chat too is a huge part of some techs comp journey. For others these online comps are achievable and great for their development.


I think it’s important for us all to be open to everyone’s opinion on these various competition’s and respect them, if you agree with them or not.


It’s the same as toothpaste: bear with me here:  Colgate is a recognised and trusted brand name that most people will use because its accepted and secure reputation to do its job has been steadfast for years. It’s been around for years and is held in high esteem with most people. Any new toothpaste coming onto the market needs to earn its place, to become notable and reputed. It takes years to establish a trusted brand. This is in no way any different to our industry ! You just have to give it time to find its place in our world ! Some people will buy the new toothpaste straight away and love it. Some will need to ride it out and see if it performs as good as the brand leader. On some occasions the new toothpaste is made by the same manufacturer as the Colgate ! Makes sense right ?


The fact it’s not as exposed as larger comps does not matter,  It makes the win for the individual no less significant, whether celebrated or not and we should all be mindful of that. As much work and love has gone into those entries as any other competition . And if you are competing for the right reasons, it will be of great help to your progression and self development.


The dark side of competition :

 Competition, unfortunately,  also has its dark side. It comes with the risk of people getting hurt, people become so overly consumed with victory that they forget what the real value of any competition is. This darker side can encourage cheating, malice , upset and unrest. This is when competition is no longer fun and affects mental and physical health and relationships across the industry. The competition is no longer what it was intended for. This is not just in our industry, it’s in anything that has a competitive element to it.

Be aware, if you constantly compete for the win/place/hierarchy instead of for progression and self development, it’s never going to end well. Studies have shown the need to be at the top, above all else,  can lead to actions that see you shifting focusing on ensuring others don’t achieve what they are capable of . Again something ive been on the receiving end of and Something that were seeing lots of thanks to the openness of social media. This is not just in competition, but life in general. Please try not to get caught up in it all. Make your own informed decisions. Take your own path. 


 So what can we do to restore Competitions in the UK:


  • If these competitions have any chance of surviving, you need to enter. Win or not, enter. Take feedback, network, make friends and bonds within the industry. 
  • If taking part in an online competition, try and get feedback from any of the judges. It's super important for your own progression.
  • It doesn’t matter if you compete from your desk or on the floor. Be respectful of everyone’s personal choice of competition and their reasons for choosing it.
  • Take feedback, if you don’t that in itself is a huge barrier to your self improvement. Be prepared to take honest, constructive feedback from good judges. Use feedback for Doing good, don’t waste it.
  • Have faith in the organisers, they will ensure the comp/judging is fair and just . If you do have any issues with any judging, please go directly to the competition organisers, do not use the public domain to air your concerns, this will not paint you in a favourable light. The organiser will take your concerns seriously and ensure it does not happen again and if there was an issue in the first place.
  • If you are unsure, find a mentor who can help you with your decision. If you ask the competition organisers, usually they can point you in the direction of someone who with professionalism and experience that can help you.
  • Due diligence. Look at the comp your wanting to enter, look at the standards, look at the categories and divisions if any, look at past competitors and their work. Talk to old competitor’s. This will help you decide if you wish to enter or seek mentorship. Please look after your own mental health. It’s so important. But that's your responsibility above all else. Noone should or would, challenge your decision. 
  • Cost, some competitions are just money generators. Try and look into all comps first because some are just there to make money. Not to nurture the good spirit of competition. 
  • Be a good competitor. Be professional. Be Kind. Be gracious. Be courteous. Cheer others on. Take feedback with an open mind. 


                        And above all if you want to be the change, remember :

                                           "You have to be In it to win it"


                                                         Love Mel xxx
















Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.