If you've gotten a shellac manicure, you're familiar with Creative Nail Design, also known as CND. For over 40 years, the California-based nail care company has merged science with aesthetics to create the ultimate beauty experience.

Curiously enough, it all began in a dentist's chair. Back in 1979, a manicurist noticed the palomar her dentist used in crowns smelled similar to the compound in her salon. That led the patient to bemoan the manicure process, products, and time, and it sparked a lightbulb in the dentist, convinced he could do better. 

That man was Dr. Thomas Nordstrom, father of CND co-founder and style director Jan Arnold. "My dad always made dentistry his profession ... but it was really chemistry that was like his hobby, his passion," Arnold tells Houstonia.

Nordstrom harnessed that passion to develop the formula for SolarNail liquida monomer nail product that effectively changed the manicure game and launched CND. When two of his four children became adults, Nordstrom gifted them with the patent for his revolutionary invention and the directive to make it their own.

CND's Jan Arnold

Arnold worked with her brother to establish CND. They challenged their scientists to find a formula that would work faster, last longer, and come off quickly. After five long years of research and development, they developed Shellac, the massively popular nail care product and process that promises a 12-day, no chip-manicure with reduced application and removal times.

A profoundly impactful product, Shellac quickly inspired copycats. Unfortunately, without the scientific understanding that CND worked towards, imitators used a mishmash of formulas while calling it true Shellac. The result? Poor quality manicures and a bad rep for Shellac nails.

“Imitations confuse the market,” Arnold says.

With that in mind, CND focuses on not only properly educating the professionals who use their product, but their nail care clients, too.

“[Dad] had a philosophy that you can't educate what you can't innovate,” Arnold says. “We're still running the company in my dad's vision of innovation, education, and of really serving the needs of the nail professional.”

It's this spirit that recently brought Arnold and her team to Houston for their beauty expo, CND Live. The company has enjoyed a strong partnership with Houston's sizable Vietnamese community, and they've worked together to educate the nail care community on its clients. The recent expo proved resourceful for those nail professionals and novice beauty fans alike, featuring demos, live streaming of nail art from acclaimed artist Tan Nguyen, and new products  like CND’s Shellac Luxe.

CND's ultimate goal of satisfying client needs is what keeps the company constantly innovating. “Time is the new luxury,” Arnold says.

Before you run out to get your nails done, here are a few of Arnold's tips for the perfect mani:

  1. Always go to a professional salon trained and certified by CND. You can search for a one closest to you online.
  2. If you want a true Shellac manicure, make sure the products are CND. Any other imitation is technically a Franken-polish, and no one wants that.
  3. Keep your nails manicured. The concept that nails need time in-between to “breathe" is unfounded. If you want to keep your nails healthy, regular manicures will actually help.
  4. Never cut your cuticles. Rather, they should be pushed back.
  5. Don't be afraid to ask your nail professional questions. The more you know, the easier it will be to make great decisions about your nail health and beauty.
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