As you've probably figured out from years of reading The Beauty of Life, I love all things nails. So it comes as no surprise that I'm thrilled to bring you this interview with manicurist Debbie Leavitt! Debbie has worked on some of the biggest names in the business, from Alicia Keys and Anna Paquin to Maggie Gyllenhaal and Olivia Wilde. And that's not all -- she has her own line of nail polish, Sheswai Lacquer! Read on to find out which kind of buffer is her favorite, the kitchen essential that she uses as a moisturizer, and so much more.
How did you first become interested in nails, and what led you to become a manicurist?
I was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California, the land of sunshine and sandals. My mom had long, beautiful, natural fingernails that she always kept well groomed and sometimes painted different colors. I think it made an impression on me because as long as can remember I have loved to shape and paint nails.
In high school I taught myself how to do acrylics (it was the 80’s), and would do the nails of my friends and their sisters out of my garage. By the time I graduated I knew I needed to go to beauty school to learn the essentials.
Having a passion for fashion magazines and trends also led me to take a semester or two in fashion merchandising and sales and marketing. My passion for health and wellness was growing as well, so I created the opportunity to combine my talents and chose to focus on natural nail care. I hooked up with the Cloutier Agency and began to book great gigs with incredible photographers, models and celebrities.
What are your top 5 nail essentials?
1) A great file. Not too coarse and can shape a nail smoothly.
2) A fine grit buffer. Not the kind that creates shine, but one that actually smooths ridges and gets rid of discoloration.
3) Cuticle nippers. They are perfect for trimming loose skin and hangnails so that you do not pick and hurt yourself.
4) Olive oil. A fantastic moisturizer.
5) A nail polish color that makes you happy!
What are your top 3 nail tips?
1) Do not pick those hangnails! Get nippers and trim them before you make yourself bleed!
2) Olive oil. It’s a kitchen essential and a body care essential.
3) Have fun with nail color trends. It’s only paint, you can remove it if you don’t like it.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
The most rewarding part of doing what I do is the gratification in shaping, massaging and painting someone’s nails and seeing their satisfaction and delight when looking at their hands. Ladies tend to move their hands differently when they are groomed, it’s lovely to see.
I do love being a nail stylist, but I’ve also learned so much in running my own business that being the owner of my own company has become very rewarding as well.
Being a manicurist must be fun, but what do you do in your spare time?
I also enjoy cooking healthy, vegetarian meals, I love to entertain and cook meals for friends. I have a fantastic pup named Mick who loves to fetch a ball and go to the beach. I love the energy of rock & roll and love going to see a live show. I also love to dance with reckless abandon. I have a rewarding yoga practice that leaves me feeling tuned in. I love clothes, shoes, jewels and dressing up. Living in California is a wonderful place to get out and experience nature -- I love to camp, go to the beach and travel freely. And I intend to learn to play guitar this year.
For more information about Debbie, visit sheswai.com.