10 Tips with Zola Ganzorigt aka @Nailsbyzola
The manicurist behind glazed donut nails talks switching careers, polish trends, and the $16 nail strengthener she swears by.
Welcome to 10 Tips — a series highlighting NYLON’s favorite nail artists, their journeys in the industry, the trendsetting moments they create, and their best advice for nail enthusiasts of all skill levels.
Zola Ganzorigt (aka @nailsbyzola) moved to Los Angeles from Mongolia in 2016, and only six years later, she’s become one of the most prominent and influential nail artists in the industry. She’s the artist behind some of the most trend-influencing manicures worn by Hailey Bieber, Vanessa Hudgens, Kendall Jenner, and Sabrina Carpenter. If you’ve been searching to no avail to buy the sold-out OPI Chrome Powder to recreate Hailey Bieber’s viral “glazed donut nails,” Ganzorigt is the reason why. (Although she humbly says that the look came about in a moment of spontaneous inspiration while getting Bieber ready for the 2022 Met Gala.) For all of her recent success, being an artist was not in Zola’s original career plan. She went to financial school and was a risk analyst at a bank before moving to LA to pursue a master’s degree in business. Luckily, a few twists of fate led her to nail artistry and an exciting new path in life.
We asked Zola for her 10 best tips on everything, from discovering your passion to doing your own glazed donut nails at home.
Zola’s best 10 tips for...
1. ...making it as a celebrity nail artist
“You have to be so patient to work in this industry, especially if you want to work with celebrities and do house calls. Wherever your client is or goes for a shoot, you also go, so you have to be flexible. You also have to work fast, because on a shoot, you might only have 30 minutes to do a whole entire set. So it’s a combination — you have to be patient, but you also have to work fast.”
2. ...discovering your passion:
“When I was a kid, I loved to draw — I tried dancing, I tried singing, but I never found my passion. In my culture, it's very expected that you go to school, then you get a degree, and then you get a regular job like everyone else. That’s how I ended up in financial school and became a risk analyst working at a bank. But I knew it was not for me.
It seems like I've been in Los Angeles my entire life, but I just moved here six years ago. The reason I moved to America was to get my master’s degree in a business. My cousin offered me a job at a salon and from there, I fell in love with doing people's nails. I tried to find my passion for a really long time, and now that I’ve found it, I'm so happy.”
3. ...finding your personal aesthetic:
“I like a clean-looking manicure. Long, natural nails, or nails that look natural — that's my thing. My favorite thing to do to for my clients is to try to grow their nails strong and healthy. I never thought about, ‘Oh, what’s my aesthetic?’ It just naturally came. It's what I like.”
4. ...growing your nails longer
“Biab gel, from The Gel Bottle, Inc — it’s harder than a gel polish, so I use that as a base. It gives a little strength to your nails without damaging them, so it supports them to grow longer. And when you soak it off, it comes off with your gel polish.”
5. ... doing your own “glazed donut nails”
“It's really easy to recreate. The original combination was OPI GelColor Funny Bunny and OPI Chrome Effects in Tin Man Can. A lot of people ask me if they can use the chrome powder on regular polish — and you can — but the chrome is now sold out, so I've been trying to see how I can achieve the look other ways. You can use a pearly nail polish and mix it with clear top coat to make it mostly sheer, but with a little bit of shimmer. The sheer base is what makes it look glazed, rather than metallic.”
6. ... keep your manicure looking its best
“My pet peeve is dry cuticles. If the cuticles are not maintained, the whole manicure looks horrible. Nails are more prone to breaking when they get too dry, so I tell every single person to use cuticle oil as much as they can. It helps grow out your nails and keep them healthy.”
7. ...shaping your nails
“When it comes to shape, I’m so picky. My all-time favorite is almond-shaped, because it works best for long, natural nails. When you’re growing out your nails, square or stiletto or coffin-shapes are more likely to break. Almond-shaped doesn’t break as easily as other shapes — and it looks so feminine and pretty to me.”
8. ...stocking your nail kit
“Every single person needs a nail file, a cuticle nipper, and then cuticle oil. CND’s cuticle oil is my favorite one and Tweezerman's tools are really good.”
9. ...finding your perfect nude nail polish
“I will mix nude nail polish for my clients to match their skin tone, but it’s usually some combination of OPI’s Put It In Neutral, Bare My Soul, and Bubble Bath. Some people have pink undertones, in that case, I use one coat Put It In Neutral and add one coat of Bubble Bath. Some people have a more yellow under tone, so I use one coat of Bare My Soul and one coat of Put It In Neutral. For darker skin tones, I’ll layer one coat of Put It In Neutral with two coats of Bare My Soul. That’s how you get that perfect shade.”
10. ...getting in on the next big nail trend early
“I've been seeing a lot of the velvet nails, with the magnetic polish. When you move your hand, it reflects. Kendall requested that for her next nail appointment. So I have to think this is gonna be the next trend!”