Superpowers of ADHD nail techs |

7 mins

Superpowers of ADHD nail techs

Kezia Parkins speaks to nail technicians with ADHD to find out how the condition impacts their work, creativity and mental health

Women are notoriously underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed when it comes to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Many don’t find out they have ADHD until their 30s or 40s, and some never find out at all.

The result is often low self-esteem and a bunch of other co-morbid mental health issues – commonly depression and anxiety.

While ADHD has many downsides, such as poor emotional regulation, problems with concentration, motivation, time management, task switching and organisation, it also comes with upsides or “ADHD superpowers”. These include creativity, heightened empathy, an entrepreneurial mindset and the ability to hyperfocus on passions and interests.

It is because of these superpowers that psychiatrists often say that it’s incredibly important for those with ADHD to find something they love doing that will help with focus, confidence, progression and routine – and “nail tech” is a role that frequently appears in lists of best careers for those with the condition.

For this reason, we asked nail techs with ADHD to get in touch and tell us why they went into the nails business, why this career suited their brains and what they believed were their ADHD struggles and superpowers.

The response we got was overwhelming and highlighted so many ways in which ADHD and nails are a match made in heaven. Here are some of our favourites.

Why is being a nail tech a good fit for you?

Elise Smith, owner of Sky High Studio in Glasgow: “I think nails are one of the only things I can focus on, especially for the length of time that I do them. The meticulousness of doing nails really suits my brain. The focus on tiny, detailed nail art makes my brain so happy, especially if it’s a design I love. My brain is probably quietest when doing nail art.”

Lindsey Howard, California-based home salon owner: “Being a nail artist suits my brain because I can be as creative as I want. Due to my mind always being full, it helps me switch off, to a point, and I truly find doing nails so relaxing and pleasurable. It almost feels like it’s not a job and I’m just catching up with friends that pay me.

“I’ve always been creative but never stuck to anything other than nails. I’ve always needed to have exciting and stimulating jobs otherwise I lose interest and move on, but nails allow me to express myself any way I choose. No two days are the same, and when I’m not working on clients I’m creating new designs for my press-on store.”

Kate Wheelan, UK-based home salon owner: “Nails are the first thing I have stuck with for longer than the ADHD ‘honeymoon period’, after which the novelty of the hobby usually wears off.

“Doing nails engages my focus more than other tasks because conversing with clients acts as a ‘stim’, while focusing on providing a service. Working on nails for an entire service time means I get to have an excuse to move my arms during an appointment. Providing a high-class service with great attention to detail means you cannot get distracted or slack off. “Becoming a nail technician and providing services has actually helped me to retrain my attention span, and my attention stamina has vastly improved. I am getting better at concentrating and multitasking daily.”

Treasure Karikari, trainee manager for Townhouse Harrods, London: “I sort of get lost in the process when doing nails in a way that I couldn’t when I tried to complete an assignment for uni, for example. “Cutting cuticles and painting nails is one of the few times my brain actually slows down. It’s like I just zone out and want to get it as perfect as possible.”

Brittany Bevan, nail tech based at Hair HQ salon in Wrexham: “Thankfully, my mind stays focused on things I enjoy, which is nails, so I put my all into that. I struggle with a lot of aspects in my life but nails are a constant release for me.”

What have you struggled with?

Elise Smith: “The challenging parts of ADHD for me are the time blindness, losing things all the time and my brain never stopping. Also, I find boring tasks basically impossible to do, such as random salon admin. It’s incredibly exhausting. Masking my symptoms is also extremely tiring.”

Brittany Bevan: “My memory issues are the worst they have ever been at the moment, so I make sure I book all clients in straight away, otherwise I will forget until the day of their appointment.

“It is also such a big struggle when your clients are running late. As nail techs, we all work to a schedule but my frustration and anger when I’m running two minutes late is horrendous.

“I hide it very well from my clients, though. ADHD either causes being late constantly or overcompensating by being early. I’m an early bird, so running that little bit behind is hard for me to deal with.”

Charlotte Nicholson, nail tech and educator based in Harrogate: “ADHD comes with anxiety and selfsabotage, and I’ve spent a lot of money on courses that I’ve done nothing with. If I don’t get something straight away then my anxiety gets the better of me and I tell myself I was useless at it, then it’s packed away in the drawer never to be seen again.

“I can also have anxiety meltdowns. When I finish work, I have to go up to my room and spend five minutes on my own just to emotionally unload, because the job can be extremely emotionally draining and overwhelming for me.

“I also leave my tax books to the last minute – but I do get them done. Plus, my memory can be awful and I sometimes struggle to text clients back.”

Treasure Karikari: “Time blindness really affects me because it makes others think that I don’t care when I genuinely do, and perfectionism makes me take forever with treatments sometimes.”

Rose Tucker, owner of Rose Tucker Southport salon in Southport: “One of my biggest challenges is sensory sensitivities and overstimulation. Imagine Windows 97 trying to run with 11 internet tabs open and a Limewire download in progress, but Windows 97 is a busy restaurant and the tabs are the noises I hear! My brain can’t filter them out and gets overwhelmed.

“I’m still learning about my triggers and limits, and have adapted my salon and working hours accordingly, but I think it’s really important to try and voice these to clients and colleagues so that they understand if you need to adjust further.

“For example, my clients know that I prefer to keep the salon doors and windows closed to soften external noises, or that if I go quiet it’s because I’m having difficulty concentrating or I’m overstimulated. I’m yet to meet anyone who’s not been respectful.”

What are your ADHD superpowers?

Kate Whelan, Kilkenny-based nail tech: “Without a doubt, my superpower is hyperfocus. In the right environment, working on a task I love, my hyperfocus enables me to complete tasks to an intensely detailed and high quality in record time.

“Hyperfocus feels like a state of mind that I can slip into if the circumstances are right. It’s a trait my friends couldn’t buy even if they wanted to, and we neurodivergent people have it for free.

“One of my other superpowers is my creativity. This, paired with hyperactive thoughts, means I can produce complex ideas quickly. It helps me to come up with content for my social media channela and for when my clients ask me to freestyle a set.”

Elise Smith: “The ‘superpower’ parts would be my drive when I love something.

I’ve only been doing nails full time for 18 months and I’ve opened a salon and training academy with five other staff members who I’ve trained.

“Due to my hyperfocus, I’m convinced I have achieved so much more than I would have without ADHD. I think it also makes me really creative, and when I’m in the mood, I get so much work done.”

Danielle York, Staffordshire-based nail tech: “My inability to be satisfied means I am constantly pushing myself to do better; if I’m not a little stressed then I’m empty, so I am always learning new techniques. This year, I have started entering competitions, which is a great way for me to challenge myself and ‘relax’.”

Nataszija Moore, Manchester-based freelance nail artist: “I’m a very passionate person and have to do things I care about to the best of my ability. This doesn’t mean I’m perfect, I just don’t do things that I enjoy by halves! This is my ‘superpower’.”

Lindsey Howard: “If I’m interested in something then I’m like an information sponge. I’ve soaked up so much knowledge from others that helps me in my work. This has taught me to be kinder to myself and do my best to work to my strengths. My superpower is definitely my creativity. My mind never shuts off and sometimes there are not enough hours in the day to create what I want, but I give it a good go.”

To learn more about ADHD nail techs and for tips from a psychologist specialising in ADHD, read the full feature at

“Thankfully, my MIND STAYS focused on things I enjoy, WHICH IS NAILS, so I put my ALL INTO THAT. I struggle with a lot of ASPECTS IN MY LIFE but nails are a constant RELEASE FOR ME”

This article appears in February 2023

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This article appears in...
February 2023
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