Friday, November 20, 2015

Sally Hansen #IHeartNailArt Grand Finale

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of flying out to New York City to judge the Sally Hansen I Heart Nail Art finale round. I was excited and nervous and curious -- what was the final round going to be like? What would the finalists come up with for their designs? What would it be like to meet Sally Hansen Nail Ambassador Tracylee? And, maybe most importantly, WHAT WOULD I WEAR ON MY NAILS?

I arrived in New York on Monday night, and shortly after checking in, I headed out to a restaurant in the Meatpacking district to meet up with some nail friends for the first time. I met Carly from Lacquered Lover, Amy from Gotham Polish, Annie from Cirque, and Marisa from Polish Obsession, and we talked and laughed and ate a lot of guacamole. I loved the opportunity to attach faces and voices to the nails (though looking at the nails was great, too!).

Clockwise from top left: Marisa, Carly, Amy, me, and Annie!

Tuesday was the day of the event, so after spending too long getting ready, I headed up to the rooftop event space at the Gansevoort Park Hotel. I tried my best to act professional as I was distracted by cupcakes, endless rows of polish, and photographers.

I was introduced to the finalists: Mackenzie (@pretty_squared), Nina (@nina_nailed_it), Azusa (@azusanail), Lishelle, and Galdina (@nailuscious). They all expressed their nervous excitement to get the competition underway!

I also met the other judges, who were much more glamorous than I: Tracylee, Leandra from Man Repeller, and Nola from The Glam Network. Before I knew it, it was time to start the competition!

Leandra, me, Tracylee, and Nola, photo via Sally Hansen

For round one, the theme was New York City. The finalists had 5 minutes to plan and 25 minutes to execute their design. These ladies stayed strong and worked hard as everyone got up in their business -- but how can you blame us? It was amazing to watch them work! When they finished, the four judges went around and we scored their designs based on cleanliness, execution, and difficulty.

Round two's theme was Inspired by a Destination. From Vera Cruz to Utah, their creativity was inspiring! We followed the same judging procedure from round one as the contestants breathed a sigh of relief that it was now out of their hands.

Mackenzie, Nina, Azusa, Lishelle, and Galdina

The gorgeous nail art -- rounds one and two!

After totaling up the scores (trust me when I say they were very close!), Galdina from Nailuscious was named the Sally Hansen Nail Art Sweetheart! Photos were taken and hugs were exchanged, and as things began to die down a bit, I rounded up the contestants and asked them if they'd like to join me for dinner. We didn't have a lot of time to chat during the event, and I wanted to get to know them better.

We walked a few blocks down the street and settled in for a delicious meal at Sarabeth's. I asked them about the experience of doing nail art under pressure, and they picked my brain about blogging. It was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip!

My event nails nails, using all Sally Hansen lacquers of course! Get the look with my Sugared Stars Tutorial.

photo via Sally Hansen

I have had such an amazing time being involved in the Sally Hansen I Heart Nail Art initiative, and I know I will never forget the people that I've met. I want to extend my congratulations not only to Galdina, but to all the finalists; you are all wonderful and extremely talented individuals.

(1) The sugar star nails I ended up wearing, and my view (2) @Nina doing some planning in round one (3) A sea of Sally Hansen just waiting to be used in the final rounds
(4) All of the lovely contestants planning their designs (5) My nails on the mini red carpet -- how adorable! (6) Tracylee and me, she is just the sweetest!
(7) The contestants' final designs (8) The winner Galdina and her daughter (9) The view from the Gansevoort Park Hotel event space

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