They've got it nailed: varnish sales boom points the way as lipstick effect wears off: Celebrities and sport stars trigger boom in nail art: Sales of polish to eclipse lipstick for the first time
(Guardian (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The lipstick effect - for generations a shorthand for how women cheer themselves up with inexpensive treats in cash-strapped times - is being swept away. Nails are the new lips in the cosmetics business and the fashion for colourful fingertips is pushing UK sales of nail varnish ahead of lipstick for the first time. Fingers, it seems, are fast becoming as important as faces.
The trend became a craze last summer during the Olympics when female Team GB athletes flaunted their patriotic painted nails, sparking copycat colourful nail art across the UK, and sales drew level with lipstick for the first time at pounds 229m - equal to about 1m bottles a week.
This year, demand for affordable nail polish, which now comes in an unprecedented range of textures and hues, has continued to rise.
Market research published today by consumer information group Mintel shows that in 2011 sales of nail varnish stood at pounds 221m, compared with pounds 224m for lip colour. Mintel is now predicting that by the end of this year it will reach pounds 233m and overtake the lipstick market.
Sports stars such as Serena Williams, Rebecca Adlington and Victoria Pendleton (who flashed nails adorned with Union flags, Olympic rings and the Team GB logo at last year's London games), together with heavily manicured celebrity role models including Beyonce, Rita Ora, Kelly Osbourne and Alexa Chung are all big influences on modern female fingers.
Nail bars have sprung up on every high street, while retailers such as John Lewis report a new, creative generation happy to "do it themselves" and pushing up sales of matt blackboard-style (just add your own design in neon chalk), leather-look and even denim finishes.
Selfridges has recently launched a nail art kit that contains a polish and a bottle of correspondingly coloured tiny balls - like very small caviar - which are sprinkled on the wet polish to give a 3D effect.
Charlotte Libby, household and personal care analyst at Mintel, said: "The fact that the nail colour cosmetics market has equalled that of the lip colour market for the first time highlights the growing popularity of nail polish.
"An explosion of new textures and effects is emerging which allows young women in particular to easily personalise their nail look. Nail makeup is also relatively purse-friendly, offering a range of affordable options and results that do not need daily application."
Nearly 60% of women in the UK set aside time to varnish their nails, with 72% of 16-24-year-olds regularly wielding a nail paint brush. Just 7% of women use false nails.
Sarah Sharp, head of beauty at Superdrug said the chain now sells a third more bottles of polish than lipsticks. "Changing the colour of nails is immediate and totally fashion and trend led. Brands such as Barry M, which have built their brand on colour and a huge breadth of range, are really driving the nail colour market. "
John Lewis is about to launch its first range of own-brand nail varnish and among autumn trends is predicting metallic foils, whereby consumers press on small sheets of paper onto their nails to leave a foiled effect, the "velvet-effect" manicure (especially in red) and sequins and glitter in the run-up to the party season.
For real varnish addicts it will this year sell an advent calendar of nail polish, with a mini bottle of polish behind each door.
Elaine Hooper, beauty buyer for John Lewis, said : "It's now de rigueur to play with colour and effects on your nails, whatever your age. Our customers have really embraced vivid colour and are also having a flutter with special effects such as leather, feather, matt and chalk."
At Selfridges, the beauty buying manager Elizabeth Selvey said the store was bringing in more nail art kits, nail wraps and even cuticle tattoos.
And then there are diamonds - from fake stick-on jewels to the Azature 267-carat Black Diamond polish on sale at the Oxford Street store last Christmas. In a bottle with a platinum cap, it was on offer for pounds 160,000 - making every little chip a big financial loss.
The trend of colourfully decorated nails has been showcased by, among others, Serena Williams (left), the singer Katy Perry (top centre), the celebrity Kelly Osbourne (top right) and the presenter Myleene Klass (right). Meanwhile, British high streets are increasingly adorned by booming nail bars Main photograph: Rex Features
(c) 2013 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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