Business Management

Do Beauty Magazines Put Nail Care on the Back Burner?

If you’re looking for nail care information in consumer beauty magazines, you’re looking in the wrong place.

Nail care is such an important part of personal beauty to us in the nail industry that we naturally assume it merits a key position in the editorial focus of consumer beauty magazines. Not so. In general, consumer beauty magazines offer limited coverage of nail care. When they do provide information on nails, it is usually delivered as an adjunct to a larger focus on health or beauty. Nevertheless, reading these magazines helps you stay abreast of the latest trends in fashion, hair care, and skin care and allows you to provide nail services that complement and enhance fashion trends.

What Beauty Editors Say

In an attempt to discover how important nail care is to editors of consumer beauty magazines, NAILS Magazine interviewed editors of the top beauty magazines on their coverage of nail care – how nail care fits in with their general views on beauty and health, what their readers’ interest is in nail care, and how their readers are wearing their nails.

Martha McCully, senior editor of beauty for Allure magazine, says that her magazine places great importance on nails.

“We cover nails the way we cover all aspects of beauty,” says McCully, “We cover it from the angle of health, from the angle of style, and from the angle of color,” McCully says that Allure addresses reader concerns about nails and provides solutions. “We get information from the experts. We ask manicurists in salons, manufacturers’ consultants, and manicurists who do celebrity nails. We ask them about the current trends in style and color of nails as well.”

McCully says that Allure integrates nail information into its regular features. For example, the magazine ran a story on extending the clean, healthy, smooth nails of summer throughout the year. “The story emphasized how at the end of summer your nails are better moisturized. They dry, cold winter hasn’t yet affected the nails. You’ve been wearing sunscreen. How can you keep those nails past the summer?” McCully says the magazine regularly assigns reporters and writers to meet nail care experts in person. “We want to see what’s new, what’s different,” says McCully.

Allure tries to find the newest things going on from nails to hair to skin care.” McCully says that the biggest nail problem her readers face is nail splitting. She says that women are wearing shorter nails with a beige or pink color; not a French manicure. Or they’re going for the solid red or dark burgundy now, which she calls more of a fashion look than a natural look. “Healthy nails are extremely important,” McCully says, “the style is health.”

Mary Lisa Gavenas, beauty features editor of Glamour magazine, agrees that nails are a health issue. “I think for our readers the main focus of nail care is health-related issues. Basically, they are interested in healthy, strong nails,” says Gavenas Glamour provides its reader with information on how to keep cuticles strong  and healthy and in optimum condition. Glamour assumes that its reader don’t have a lot of time to lavish o their nails, according to Gavenas. “We focus on low maintenance and on big improvements over existing nail products,” says Gavenas. “Our reader is not someone who wants an elaborate manicure. She wants it very easy and simple.” For this reason, quick-dry products are very popular with Glamour readers. Gavenas says her magazine includes nails as part of a makeup story, as a part of makeup trends.

Glamour has done stories that spotlighted nails. Gavenas says the trend for her readers is short, very natural-looking nails with either very sheer and natural polish colors or bright red polish. Extensions are not the trend. She says that French manicures, even with the quicker ways of doing them, are too elaborate for Glamour readers.

For Felicia Rogawska Milewiez, beauty and heath director for Mademoiselle magazine, nails are important as a fashion accessory. “Nails are the best accessory you’ve got,” says Milewiez. “Nails ae a natural extension of your grooming.” Madermoiselle acceuts nails as beauty items that enhance a woman’s overall beauty and fashion statement. Coordination of nail and lip color is very important.

The readership of Mademoiselle is young – the average reader is 24 years old and single. What nail styles are these women wearing? “Generally, they are wearing their natural nails,” says Milewiez. “They may wear bright colors for nighttime for shine and decoration, but they are wearing their nails short.” Health of the nails is important to Mademoiselle, just as it is to Glamour and Allure. Milewiez says that Mademoiselle does stories on cuticle care. “Our reader is health-conscious. In the same ways she has to care for her skin before getting dressed, she has to care for her nails before dressing them up.”

Self magazine does one big nail story a year in the middle of the book, according to Maureen McGrath, who has worked at the magazine as an editorial assistant for two and a half years. McGrath says Self did a long nail care story, “the Modern Manicure,” in its April 1993 issue. “We survey our readers each month,” says McGrath. “the modern manicure story received a very favorable response from our readership.” McGrath says the magazine regularly reports on nail care trends. “If there is something newsworthy, we will do a news flash on it, such as the toluene or formaldehyde issues. We also touch on the health aspect of nails. For example, we advise our readers not to have their cuticles clipped in a salon unless they bring their own clippers.” According to Peter Cowles, associate marketing director for Self, the median age of the magazine’s reader is 30. “Our readers prefer natural nails,” says McGrath. “They prefer to wear the sheer polish colors and tend to wear their nails fingertip length and more squared than rounded.”

Although we were unable to reach Shirley Lord, beauty editor at Vogue, her assistant sent us articles Vogue had published that she felt would help us understand the magazine’s view on nail care. Of the four articles on nail care. Of the four articles on nail care. Of the four articles on nail care we received, dating from February 1991 to April 1993, two were major features and two devoted only a paragraph or two to nail care. We were unable to get a direct statement from the editors of Vogue on their views on nail care.

What Nail Technicians Say

The editors’ intentions about nail care coverage may be good, but what gets published in the magazine is the true picture of a magazine’s editorial philosophy. NAILS Magazine asked five nail technicians across the country to review five major consumer beauty magazines and rate them on the amount and accuracy of their nail care coverage. The magazines were Self. Mademoiselle, Allure, Glamour, and Vogue. Each nail technician reviewed three 1993 issues of one of these five magazines.

Deneen Daniels, owner of Nails By Deneen in Atlanta, Ga., reviewed three 1993 issues of Mademoiselle and said she would give the magazine a 3 on a scale from 1 to 5 for the amount of coverage. In terms of the usefulness of the nail care articles, Daniels says, “I’d give it a 2, and that’s being nice. The nail care coverage in Madeoiselle provides nail care information for the average consumer, but it’s not technical enough. It’s his or miss.” Daniels feels the articles don’t really cover the issues that nail technicians at Gerald Kriegisch Salon in Tarzana, Calif., who has been doing nails for 13 years and does the nails of such celebrities as Loni Anderson, says she found no nail care at all in the three issues of Vogue she reviewed. “I even looked through other issues of Vogue and found nothing except one ad for a professional company,” she says. Sanders feels Vogue deserves a *** rating on its nail care coverage.

Bea Lea Somerville, who has been doing nails for about three and a half years and works at The Head Quarters in Midland, Texas, says of Glamour magazine’s nail coverage: “I’d give it a rating of 1. There is no nail care overage. The only thing I did find was a correction referring to a statement made in a previous issue about reflexology and hand massage. The only ads in the magazine that had to do with nail care were for over-the-counter polishes and one professional products ad.” Somerville says that the cover model’s hands on the April issue were not well-groomed. On the cover of the September issue, the model’s nails just look white. “All of the models show bare nails or a natural manicure.” Says Somerville. “The only color polish appears in polish ads.”

Somerville says that there was nothing on hand, nail, or foot care in the “Health and Beauty” section of the three issues she reviewed. She sums it up like this: “Everything was complexion or hair care. The only nail coverage at all was in the advertisement.” To Glamour’s credit, there was a full-page article on nails in the June 1993 issue, although NAILS did find a couple of points in it to SNAG!

Judy tomaras, who works at Avante Nail Studio in Barrington. III has been doing nails for 13 years but has worked in the beauty industry for 30. She reviewed three 1993 issues of Self magazine and says the nail coverage wasn’t extensive. Tomaras gives the magazine a 2.5 on a scale from 1 to 5 for amount of coverage. The thing that unpressed Tomaras was the Self’s nail care articles were very interesting to read. “One article described different manicures around the country – what different salons are doing. It was really interesting and gave me some ideas,” Tomaras says. Overall, Tomaras found the magazine to be very useful to the consumer, less so to the nail technician. “Consumer-wise it was very, very interesting,” she says. “I’d give it a 4 on accuracy and usefulness for the consumer. What I read on manicures was accurate. For technical usefulness. I’d only give it a 1.5 or a 2 on a scale from 1 to 5. But, then, we nail technicians have trade publications we can read for technique.”

Allure magazine was rated on its nail coverage by Wendy Coleman, who has been doing nails for five years and owns Distinctive Touch in Hamilton Square, N.J. Says Coleman, “Allure is accurate, but it doesn’t elaborate enough. I’d give the magazine *** 2 on the amount of nail coverage.” But Allure scored higher with Coleman on its usefulness. She says she’d rate it a 3 or 4 on that count. Coleman was disappointed with what she thought were missed editorial opportunities. In the August 1993 issue on page 117, a full-page-size model is painting her toenails, but the page is entirely devoted to hair care. There is no mention of nail care anywhere on the page. What does Coleman conclude about Allure’s views on nail care? “Nail care is presented in a favorable way and there does seem to be a fair amount of skin care, a service that can also be found in nail salons,” she says.

Overall, with the exception of an occasional lengthy article on nail care such as Self’s “The Modern Manicure” in its April 1993 issue, consumer beauty magazines provide scant coverage of nail care, and when they do it’s tied to a more general feature on health or beauty. Although nail technicians may find the nail articles in consumer beauty magazines interesting and even useful in some ways, they put neither the nail technician nor the profession in its best light.

Does this all mean that a nail technician should limit her reading to trade magazines aimed specifically at her career? No. Reading consumer beauty magazines can help a nail technician stay abreast of the latest in fashions, including colors, fabrics, and styles that nail styles will need to complement. They also help nail technicians stay in touch with the trend in hair styles and colors (very important if the technician works at a full-service salon) and in-the-know about skin care, tinting, and massages. In addition, just browsing through consumer beauty magazines and taking a good look at the models’ nails will help a nail technician keep abreast of the nail length, shape, and color that particular magazine suggests its readers wear. Another advantage to reading consumer beauty magazines if you’re a nail technician is that if a magazine publishes incorrect information on nail care issues, you have to opportunity to set clients straight. And remember, your clients read consumer beauty magazines, and there’s a good chance some of them will come to you wanting you to copy something they have seen in one of them. Show your clients that you’re aware of the trends and able to help make them look smart and fashionable.

Keywords:   consumer press  

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