Marketing & Promotions

We Know What Girls Like

Two things characterize today’s teens — a strong desire for self-expression and the luxury of disposable income. Both spell good news for the nail industry. As more students nationwide are required to wear uniforms, teens are relying on their nails to make a statement about their individuality.

We checked with techs and product manufacturers across the country to find out what’s on young minds when it comes to their nails. What we discovered was that there are no hard-and- fast rules. Trends vary by age and region and what’s all the rage one week can be old news the next. That said, here are our experts’ best guesses on what services and retail products are likely to fire the imagination of our younger clients.

Sherri Cassell, a Camarillo, Calif-based nail tech, quizzed her 14-year-old daughter Nikki and her friend Nichole Hammeralso 14, on their likes and dislikes on the nail fashions:

Preferred length: Medium

Color vs. French manicure: Airbrushed French

And if you do wear color? Silver, blue, purple, pink Polish

Shades you’d never wear? Red, yellow, brown, turquoise

Natural nails vs. acrylics: Acrylics (though only roughly 10% of school mates wear them)

Nail art: Yes, handpainted, but just one finger on each hand (flowers are good) Glitter polish: We like it, but it’s hard to take off

Mood polish: Definitely

Regular acrylics vs. pink-and-whites: Regular because if you want to polish them, sometimes the white tip shows through

Favorite toe fashions: French or dark purple


Maisie Dunbar owner of M&M Nails in Silver Spring, Md., says teens in the Maryland-Virginia-Washington, D.C. area go for funky dark colors, and hand-painted art is definitely preferred over airbrushing. “They might get a light color on the nail bed, a dark color on the tip, and an abstract design on top of that,” she says. “These young girls are living at home and have a lot of money to spend on their hair and nails. They come to the salon very consistently.’

In affluent Houston, Rachel Gower, owner of The Upper Hand, says teens often come in with their mothers and sometimes even come in by themselves flashing their American Express cards. All of the salon’s teen clients stick to natural nails and most get pedicures. Gower reports that last summer’s most popular teen service was a French manicure on the toes along with a decal on the big toe.

“Teens still enjoy the funky colors that are passé for most salon owners — dark shades for winter and pastels for summer (though pink is out),” says Duri Cosmetics’ Fay Ritz. She predicts bright orange will be the hit of the summer because it looks great with a tan. Shari Finger owner of Finger’s Nail Art Studio in W Dundee, Ill., says Duri’s Graffiti, a frosty silver-gray-purple mix (right), is by far her biggest teen seller.

Mood polish is a still a teen favorite. Mood polishes from Tantra by Star Nail Products come in eight different color-changing combinations. For more information, call (800) 762-NAIL or (661) 257-7827.

Fing’rs new Go Bear Foot Kits contain frosty, kid-friendly polish colors in a bear-shaped bottle, soft foam toe separators, a matching beaded ankle bracelet, and a sterling silver toe ring. For more information, call (800) 522-7736 or (805) 987-7771.

Farrah Braniff, CEO of Kustom Girl Products, created a line of star-shaped stencils in response to popular demand. Also very popular she says, is her Asian-inspired Empress line, which includes eight Japanese characters that stand for words like “youth” and “spirit” For younger girls she recommends a flower decal covered with glitter polish and glitter lotion on the hands. For more information on Kustom Girl’s retail offerings, call (310) 362-8475, e-mail, or visit

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