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What It's Really Like To Be On A Reality TV Show

I spent a day on the Oxygen reality show Nail'd It. There's a PA who had to feed me.

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And I was invited to be a "client" on this reality show.

Nail'd It is very similar to Project Runway or Top Chef — a group of nail artists are given challenges that push their craft to extreme realities. There's a wonderful host, in this case Adrienne Bailon (who you may remember from The Cheetah Girls), celebrity nail judges (meaning celebs in the nail world, and just pretty people everywhere else), and elimination-style judging.

Nail art, for those who aren't familiar, is a huge deal, not just on Pinterest, but there's also a massive nail art community and even competitions for artists to showcase their work. The contestants on Nail'd It are seriously talented and I, as a client, got to spend a day getting my nails done by one of them. Here's what I found out about nail art, and being on a reality show.

Here's the full trailer, just so you can experience it in all its glory.

View this video on YouTube

See that redhead in the thumbnail? That's me. I'm actually on the show. I wasn't just lying about that.


2. I had to get a manicure BEFORE the actual nail art.

In order to make the competition fair, everyone had to get a basic manicure to ensure their nail beds were healthy. All's fair in gels and glitter.

3. And after the manicure, I was given fake nails.

Like the kind you get in the drugstore that have a sticky adhesive on the back. Except mine were filed and re-filed and buffed to perfection.

4. In total, you will spend about an hour going through hair and makeup (likely at the same time).

Oxygen Media/Lindsey Byrnes

That's Jean Bentley from Zap2It, another writer who can "influence" the nail world. She was a client, like me, and because time is of the essence, you often have a few people making you TV ready at once.

5. You will immediately regret all of the potential outfits you brought to wear.

Erin La Rosa for BuzzFeed

That's because there are stylists, and you can hear them talk about the other contestants and what they're wearing and how it will compare to yours. You will immediately realize you forgot to bring that beautiful blue lace dress and want to cry. It is OK, they make you look pretty even when you doubt yourself.


6. Once your fake nails are on, you aren't allowed to touch ANYTHING.

There was even a handler who followed all of us around to make sure we weren't touching anything.

7. Except there are TOTALLY ways to get around the no touching thing, and everyone did it.

Oxygen Media/Lindsey Byrnes

Girls gotta text, OK? And this is Grasie Mercedes of Style Me Grasie, another writer/client/nail art "influencer."

9. You will raid the craft service table and eat so many of the things.

Erin La Rosa for BuzzFeed

Craft services is this wonderful place where there are just tables and rows of snacks. Everything is free, and you're encouraged to take all of the things. My things were Doritos, gummy bears, and assorted Tootsie Rolls. It was a glorious lunch. (But also incredibly difficult to enjoy with talons, obviously.)


10. The actual filming is incredibly awkward.

Mainly because you're surrounded by bright lights and people yelling, "CUT! AGAIN!" and you're never quite sure what to do with your hands. (Note my pulling on the jacket and making a gonzo face, for example.)

11. And if you're not an actress, you will absolutely humiliate yourself.

I had to film my intro no fewer than seven times. That's the part where all you have to say is, "Hello, this is my name!" And yet, I couldn't do it. I kept flubbing my own name, and I was so nervous that I sounded mad. Eventually I got it, but it was...horrifying.


14. It took an hour and a half to get my nails done, and it was exhausting.

For an hour and a half the cameras are pinned to your side, and you feel obligated to fill every minute of it with small talk.

15. Once the nail art is complete, you aren't allowed to touch anything (so as not to ruin your nails and compromise the competition).

Oxygen Media/Lindsey Byrnes

A nail could break, or chip, and if it did, it would take the artist another hour to fix that nail. So they are super serious about the no touching rule after this point.


18. And you'll grow oddly good at not touching things and being hand-fed. So good, that you may decide to never use your hands again!

19. You're told not to drink too much, because if you need to pee... the PA has to help you do it.

Oxygen Media/Lindsey Byrnes

You can't TOUCH ANYTHING. I don't think any of us actually ended up using the restroom for the next six hours.


21. The actual judging part of the competition is equal parts gut-wrenching and thrilling.


I don't know what it's like to be a contestant, but as the "hand model" I was so nervous for Classic. I wanted her to win, but I also wanted to hear the judges critique her work. It's a lot of emotions!

22. These shots were filmed AFTER the competition was over, and it took a solid 30 minutes.


I had to hold my fingers very still while an overhead camera shot from above. Occasionally I'd move a finger there, or tilt it to the side... I do it all for the cover shot!

23. You still have to keep shooting well after the competition and judging are done.

Erin La Rosa for BuzzFeed

There are shots used for background, or a second of a frame that you need to fill by just standing there and doing something. Here's me, standing for a solid 20 minutes while they take aerial views of my completed nails. Life is hard.

24. OK, Adrienne is seriously into nails. We all talked to her about nail art for a very long time.

Oxygen Media/Lindsey Byrnes

She wanted to see our nails, then she showed us hers, and talked about how much she respects the art form. Adrienne gave me a new appreciation for beautiful nails.

Tune in to Oxygen tonight, Oct. 7, at 9 p.m. to see whose nails won the show!