The Nail Polish Effect
Sitting in my favourite nail parlour recently, the woman to my left, in her twenties was having neon pink nails painted by a manicurist brandishing intense orange nails. They spent quite a long time admiring and complementing each other’s choices which made for a brilliant and blinding collision. To my right, another customer in her fifties was having intricate silver nail art daubed onto claret coloured talons and on my way home, I saw a young female traffic warden in a high vis vest with matching high vis canary yellow nails. She looked amazing.
During the Covid 19 global pandemic, sales of nail polish increased significantly. According to EssentialRetail.com sales of premium nail products jumped by 12% in the lockdown week starting March 16 and by 24% the following week, with brands such as Chanel, Dior and YSL doing particularly well. Historically, economic analysts and those in the beauty trade have used a loose theory called The Lipstick Effect to plot social downturns. When we hit an economically challenging period, it’s traditionally been lipstick, an affordable treat and instant lift, that women have invested in.
But not anymore. During Covid 19, beauty sales, including lipstick, bombed with a global decrease of 20% – 30%. This must partly be connected to face coverings; what’s the point of wearing lipstick that you have to hide behind a mask? As our faces became more concealed in public, it seems as though hands and nails may have taken over as focal points for personal expression. From a health and safety point of view, we’ve all become hyper-conscious of our hands during the global pandemic, from not touching others to regular cleaning and sanitising. But, perhaps as a result of all this attention on our hands, nail care has flourished
My first trip to the manicurist at the end of July this year was one of my most memorable post-lockdown moments. Just reading all those delicious names: Pittsburgh Blue, Canadian Maple, Tiramisu Slice, Unicorn Lovely, whisked me to other adventures far from the gloom that emanated from every news channel and radio station. After almost a year of no manicures, having my nails professionally painted felt wonderful and luxurious. Afterwards, I couldn’t stop staring at them and touching their glossy surface. I felt civilized again, my better self. It’s curious how these tips of keratin at the tops of our fingers have so much potential for escapism and joy.
I’m reminded of Sally Bowles, the glamorous night club singer in Christopher Isherwood’s novella Goodbye to Berlin (1937). Immortalized by Liza Minelli in Bob Fosse’s 1972 film, Cabaret, Bowles painted her nails in “divine” and “decadent” colours including green and black. Interesting that those fictional nails were set during the days of the Weimar Republic. In 1932, six million Germans were unemployed and the economy was in shreds. Perhaps, the lipstick effect should be re-named the Sally Bowles Effect.
Get the nail polish effect here:
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