He was the first nail artist to have a contract with Chanel, making its polishes as well-known as its quilted purses and tweed suits. Now he is the new consulting nail expert to L’Oréal Paris, as well as the self-branded “man-icurist” for celebrities including Zooey Deschanel, Scarlett Johansson, Eva Longoria, Gwen Stefani and Victoria Beckham. Meet Tom Bachik.

Bachik has an atypical background in the biz. The California skater boy started out his career as a graphic artist, custom-painting helmets, when the recession hit in 1994 and a cousin suggested he consider going to beauty school to make a better living. He tried the nail program, and ended up finding his calling.

We reached out to our Facebook and Twitter followers to see if there was anything they wanted to ask Bachik about nails. All the questions are listed below—along with a few of our own that we just had to include, such as how does a skateboarder make the giant leap into becoming a nail artist.

You used to be into skateboarding. How did you go from that to nail art?

I pretty much grew up on a skateboard and loved to draw. I originally went to school for graphic design, with the intentions of a future in custom-painting. From boards to race cars to motorcycle helmets and hockey masks, I loved design, dimension and crazy graphics. But with a child on the way, the starving artist lifestyle wasn’t how I wanted to raise a family. At a dinner one evening, a cousin suggested the beauty industry and specifically nails, as nail art had become a major trend. With a little research and recognizing all the amazing opportunities the industry had to offer, it was as simple as changing my canvas.

How did your brand ambassadorship with L’Oréal Paris transpire?

I’ve worked with L’Oréal for many years on photo shoots and commercials. There have been a number of exciting changes at L’Oréal, with one being the evolution of its global beauty expert team. Cyril Chapuy, global brand president of L’Oréal Paris, has handpicked this team and approached me on set [to be a part of it]. What an amazing opportunity.

Can you share a few celebrity insider tidbits? What have some of your most famous clients wanted, mani-wise?

I’ve had some cool and fun requests for events, shoots and videos, from hand-painted designs like retro glittered TVs to a set of nails I call “corseted stilettos” [meaning the nails were long and pointed and then pierced up the middle and laced up like a corset]. I’ve done crazy hand-painted metallic animal prints and pierced and studded [nails]. These kinds of nails keep my job interesting.

What are today’s top nail art trends?

Most of my clients want something very simple, but some like to have a bit of fun. So an accent or featured nail is a cool way to show a bit of personality. Sparkle seems to be the “in” thing, from shimmery metallic to full-on chunky glitter and accents with crystals. It’s all about texture and dimension in both design and color. Nails are the new accessories!

We received this question a couple of times. How do you stop your nails from chipping?

There are a couple of easy things you can do to help prevent chipping. First, make sure oils and contaminants are removed from the surface of nails using a nail cleanser or isopropyl alcohol. And finally, refresh shine and protect color by applying a top coat every couple days.

How can you prevent your nails from drying out?

Avoid lower-quality products or products that contain dehydrating ingredients like formaldehyde. Leaving color on for too long without changing it can cause drying as the color becomes old. Also, use cuticle oil nightly to keep polish and nails moisturized and flexible.

Can you use a cuticle softener before applying acrylic or gel?

These products will not cause lifting, if any residue left on the nail plate is removed properly with a nail cleanser or isopropyl alcohol.

Is there a specific product you’d recommend for a long-lasting manicure?

A great top coat will help your manicure last. Try Top of the Line top coat from the L’Oréal Colour Riche Nail Collection to protect your color and give an amazing deep shine.

How can you avoid getting air bubbles in nail polish?

Before polishing, roll the polish bottle between your hands versus shaking it. Also don’t polish in a draft, like under a fan or outside in a breeze. This can rapidly dry polish and cause hyper-evaporation of the solvents, creating bubbles or a rough surface.

Do you like to give yourself manicures? 

Ha, not really! But I will do a manicure before jobs, especially with new clients. Nails is what I do, so I feel my nails need to look their best to make the right impression. It’s kind of like if my nails don’t look good, then will their nails look good? Then again, makeup artists never wear makeup!