Is Nail Art Kaput?

Since roughly the late summertime, predictions from fashion and beauty oriented sites declared the once thriving division of nail art as O-V-E-R.  Now in December, actual numbers have come stating that nail polish sales went down 13% in November, after a sales growth of 20% in 2012. Advertising Age, where the original report was posted, also noted that for the first time since 2009, lipstick surpassed nail polish in online searches. “Special effect” nail polishes were especially low, as when consumers did purchase polish, it was just solid colors they wanted. Maybe everyone’s just ready to honor a well-painted yet plain template again?

Nail art by WAH Nails

Nail art completely ruled the makeup field for a good six years. Not even colored eyeliner received this much love (no matter how hard makeup artists told us green and blue would bring out our irises more), and tomboys were also getting their bi-weekly manis with decals, tartan stripes, and anything else their creative minds desired. What was once regulated to just the most fashionable and rambunctious girls and young women from neighborhoods a bit more rough around the edges, nail tips that were longer and fully adorned became embraced by many other necks of prestigious, everyday, and your nearest bit city destination woods. The phenomenon had even crossed the pond as founder Sharmadean Reid’s WAH Nails (who had long painted leopard print graphics before anyone) is a major beauty hot spot for getting your nail art meticulously flashy by a talented, polish addict staff.

There’s hasn’t really been a clear date for when the nail art trend started, but we can definitely look as far back as 2007 during Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad days, and it just grew from there. Women sites covered it, dedicating whole articles to the undeniable charm of its popularity, and drugstore brands scrambled to create affordable tools for the masses to recreate looks. As what was once one of the hood’s best kept secrets and nail art become more than just palm tree pictures, so many fads within the trend owned the spotlight one mirror light at a time: Minx covers (first popularized by Beyonce in her “Single Ladies” video); Sally Hansen Salon Effects stick-ons; Sephora-only labels like Ciate were more innovative with each new kit, Katy Perry tweeting photos of her Daria tribute nails; Perry’s doppelganger Zooey Deschanel wearing tuxedo prints on the red carpet as the ultimate nail art celebrity model; matte topcoats; semi-holographic magnetic stripes; neon colors that were almost unavailable in the U.S. The trend even lead towards shades like fire engine red finally being worn without embarrassment, and Chanel had animated manicures on their runways. Nail art become so ubiquitous, a date for its hierarchy would come eventually, but when was up in the air. Still, if nail art, which coincided with the return of the talon nails, was coming to an end, the signs of it would be like with any trend before. The popularity steadily grows, explodes like wildfire and then find its way back unto the individuals that originally adored it and rocked it in the first place. Remember the black nail polish craze? The New York Times even wrote a short piece about its much delayed courtship outside of the punk rock scene. The Times wrote about the impact of nail polish on the market and in fashion again, in 2012.

Check out the old Cover Girl logo above “Crackle”

One trend that was bigger in its return than during its first coming out party was the late ’90s comeback of the shatter effect, or Crackle as it was originally called by Cover Girl. The Shatter topcoat was one of the biggest deals of recent nail art, and when OPI re-introduced it, it was sold within days at many stores. In New York, they even jagged up the price as high as $14.99 because of its high demand. Nail art at that point showed no signs of being gone in a month.

The thing about nail polish if you’re an addict is that you can feed your addiction immediately since it’s generally inexpensive. It’s easy to satiate you rneed for every color or design when it won’t break your bank, and there was just something so fresh about nail art. It really was the most different, loud, and personalized statement you could make with beauty in a really long time. With fashion as widely broadcast as ever, nail art symbolized the limitless expectations of celebrating individuality even within a noted trend.

Seeing nail art today as I recently viewed the new House of Holland’s glue-on tips that are exorbitantly colorful, there’s something been there, done that, over that, about nail art. Go figure the beauty crowd is once again feeling fickle about something they once claimed as its most fun salvation. Truthfully, nail art could never be as classic as a black drawn cat-eye or painted red pout because it’s generally too flamboyant to be classic. A classic in beauty terms is something that is so is familiar and withdrawn from noise. Nail with its abundant options are overwhelming and oddly enough what made it so great soon was too distracting to be bothered with.

It’s hard to tell from here if nail art will truly experience a slow death or a quick one by Spring trend standards, but either we’ve all come to the realization that getting our nails done is an upkeep, or maybe with it being so widely available, the fun has officially been taking out of the equation. The beauty scene is one hard crew to please.

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