Britain's got talons: Polish is not enough. Now fingertips are being judged as works of art

 

Back in 2007, if you were wearing nail polish and it wasn't chipped, you'd get an A for effort and a gold star if the shade was by Chanel and had sold out in record time. Now, however, manicures are more like miniaturised masterpieces, as the current vogue for extreme nail art shows no signs of abating.

Tomorrow, Scratch, the magazine for nail professionals, hosts its annual awards – and, it's safe to say, the talons of the talented nominees will feature at the very least multi-coloured patterns and crystal embellishments. But when did the humble paint job go extreme?

In 2008, Sharmadean Reid knocked the fashion world's collective socks off with the intricate, funky patterns – all hand-painted – on offer at her London salon, WAH Nails. When Ms Reid started her nail revolution in 2008, nail polish sales in Europe made up just 10 per cent of the colour cosmetics market. By 2012, this had risen to 26 per cent. But, by today's standards, even the WAH version of fashionable fingertips pales in comparison with the artworks favoured by some. When it comes to nailing the look, more is more – especially on the hands of celebrities such as Rihanna, Beyoncé and Katy Perry. The latter's Democrat-themed manicure during last year's US election was particularly creative. Currently in vogue are "stilettos" – long, pointed styles that can even be given a red "sole" à la Christian Louboutin's fancy footwear.

It's not just stars with stylists on hand who favour the painted lady look, though. It's being replicated in real life, and with amazing proficiency too, as proved by Grazia magazine's hugely-popular #ManicureMonday hashtag on Twitter, through which the most intricate patterns and paintings are revealed – often created at home. In fact, the rise of social media and nail art seems to go hand in hand.

A Mintel consumer research report noted that "nail colours are often touted as an inexpensive means of updating women's wardrobes and staying abreast of fashion trends. It may also be considered a relatively inexpensive pick-me-up when consumers are obliged to keep a close eye on their spending."

More and more brands are cottoning on. Polka-dot, denim-effect and chalkboard finishes have recently launched and, surprisingly, rather than cluttering the market, these new offerings are boosting some attractive business figures. In 2012, Women's Wear Daily reported US nail polish sales at a record $768m (£505m).

"We think 2013 will be about textured with embellishment," Julia Goldin, global chief marketing officer at Revlon, told WWD recently. "Nails are making their own statement on [catwalks and in] pop culture …. Women are taking more risks like nail art, since it doesn't interfere with their daily look."

That there are 20 categories at tomorrow's Scratch Stars awards suggests a quick slick of clear varnish may no longer be an option.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?