Using Nails as a Canvas
We know enough about Art Basel in Miami already. But there was one thing we noticed that deserves further discussion during the exhausting, nearly weeklong fair. There was a lot of attention being paid to nail art. When energy for what's on the walls runs thin, the human body is certainly a distracting canvas. As part of its initiative with the German artist Anselm Reyle, Dior Beauty created a collection of nail polishes in five shades. In turn, for an event hosted by Fabiola Beracasa, Dior brought in the New York City celebrity nail stylist Tracylee to develop custom camouflage manicures for patrons. Tracylee, who has previously hand-painted beach and holiday scenes on nails, created three nail patterns for the fashion brand in homage to Mr. Reyle's collaboration. "It was very difficult," she said of working on the designs. "I was just given a picture, and it took one to two hours for each nail to figure out which part of the print was going to look the best on the nail. There were a lot of re-dos." Once she achieved the design and pattern, "it was pretty simple," Tracylee said. She practiced on nail tips at home to get her actual speed up, so ultimately "each nail took five or six minutes to do." At the event, "I was the only one doing the camouflage print," she said. "And from 1:30 to 9:30 I didn't stop. I don't know how many nails I did, but I did a lot." Is the pattern something that we could re-create at home? "I don't know," Tracylee said. "Consumers are pretty savvy today." Meanwhile, at the Standard in Miami Beach, the Chicago-based artist Dzine showed "Imperial Nails," an installation he designed of his parents' living room, a "bootleg beauty parlor" where his mother would give manicures. Over-the-top manicures using costume jewelry pieces and other embellishing hoo-hahs were being done not by Dzine but by manicurists from the downtown Miami salon Tippie Toes. (Ordinarily, a regular manicure there goes for $10; the artist found the local salon simply by "hitting the pavement" and appreciating its work.) Dzine was also promoting his new book, "Nailed," a historical and photographic inquiry into nail culture. "During my research, I realized there were no publications about the history of nail culture," said Dzine, as a manicurist from Tippie Toes embellished our right pinky. (It was cool, but in truth, on us, it looked a little fungal. It was fun to peel off, though.) "If you look at the book, there's a long history of long nails. It was about social status." As part of the project, Dzine made a series of "sculptural pieces" that can be glued on top of nails. "I want the nails to be works of art," he said. Some were like hawk nails. It was pretty crazy. Growing up, Dzine said that his mother taught him how to work on nails. "But do I give a good manicure?" he asked. "I'm more interested in the sociological implications." As for his own nail maintenance, back in Chicago, Dzine said he gets a weekly manicure, especially to remove all the paint and residue out from under his nails. "Usually I'll get a cut, a buff and a gloss polish," he said. "For me, it's neither here nor there. I like taking care of myself and having good hygiene."
Promising Women No chips for Weeks, Gel Manicures Shake Up a $1 Billion Ritual
Gel manicures, the long-lasting manicure alternative that were once available only in salons for about $40, now are available in an at-home kit, opening up a much larger market just in time for the holidays. Elizabeth Holmes has details on Lunch Break. Photo: Getty Images. If Alyssa Edwards didn't ruin her manicure immediately after getting it by reaching into her purse for her car keys, she would usually chip the polish within a day or two.
With their price tag of $30 to $40, gel manis cost almost twice that of a standard salon manicure in some regions. They are giving a boost to salons, whose business slumped in the downturn. Now, several brands have do-it-yourself kits, too.
Many customers prefer to have gel polish removed from their nails at a salon—and once there, it's convenient to get a new manicure. Coty Inc., owner of nail brands OPI and Sally Hansen, estimates gel manicures will make up 25% of the salon manicure business by the end of 2012. With most beauty treatments, salon sales threaten to cannibalize at-home activity, and vice versa. But with manicures, it's a case of the more the merrier. Some 25% of women who had two or more salon manicures in the past six months also used at-home nail products five times or more in the past month alone, according to market-research firm Packaged Facts. Also known as no-chip manicures or by a brand name, gel manicures won't air dry, says Ralph Macchio, Coty's chief scientific officer. Rather, gel polish is set when certain chemical compounds are exposed to light, which causes them to bond and form a strong, shell-like coating. Gel manicures, like regular manicures, typically consist of a clear base coat, two coats of color and a clear top coat. But after each coat in a gel manicure, recipients put the fingernail under a UV light for a time period that varies by brand, but is often less than a minute for each coat. Sally Hansen's InstaGel Strips, $29.99, comes with an assortment of polish strips and a mini lamp to 'cure' one nail at a time. Chad Conger, a research chemist at CND, which makes Shellac Power Polish, a no-chip product in salons, says the UV exposure required with his company's polish is comparable to an extra minute or two in the sun each day over the life of the manicure. The high shine of gel polish is what usually draws women's attention, but the durability turns them into converts, says Derek Bowen, senior vice president of marketing at Coty Beauty US. Gel polish holds up under such otherwise manicure-threatening conditions, whether it's washing dishes or swimming laps.
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