If you’ve looked through any fashion or beauty magazines lately, then chances are you’ve seen the influx of nail art in their editorial pages. Nail art, it seems, has become more popular than ever before, at least with fashion insiders. Celebrities such as Madonna are sporting some type of nail art. In 1999, 72% of salons throughout the country offered nail art services. That number dropped to 68% in 2000, according to NAILS’ 2000-2001 Fact Book. Airbrushing services also suffered a slight dip, from 30% in 1999 to 26% a year later. Are those lower figures cause for worry? Some people seem to think so, while others say that business has never been better.

In the last year, there’s been an increase in over-the- top, opulent nail designs. I think the whole hip-hop world is viewing nails as an accessory. The more adventurous, fashion forward, and avant garde are also taking more risks and are playing around with nail art. The market has become segmented, though. Younger clients are more willing to play with color, while older clients are taking on a more conservative look. A few years ago, more people were willing to play around with colors and designs.

Nail techs definitely have more to work with now.

There are more products out there, as well as contests such as the Alternative Nail Awards that allow them to use their creativity.

Jan Arnold, co-founder, Creative Nail Design

The old way of doing nail art is losing popularity. In any industry, people lose interest after a while. Right now, colored acrylics and glitter powder are in. They’re applied the same way as regular acrylic powder; and they allow for more creativity. People can get really artistic, and since they have to team a new procedure, they become more motivated to create new nail art.

Danny Haile, founder, EZ Flow Nail Systems

I’ve seen nail art become more popular in the last three years People have been requesting it more. Older clients who liked getting it done before are coming back for new designs. Teenagers are getting into nail art as well, especially in the Midwest and on the East Coast.

Of course, the holidays are the busiest time of the year for art, but people also seem to like getting some sort of nail art before they go on vacation. I see a mixture of airbrushing and nail charms or nail jewelry becoming more popular. In feet, we’re getting a lot of requests for new designs.

Dim Sarkissian, president, Dina’s Nail Art

Nail art enjoyed enormous popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as nail techs sought to differentiate themselves while offering their clients something new and exciting. Classes were jammed and sales of brushes, paints, airbrushes, and decorations skyrocketed.

Over the last few years, there has been a tremendous shakeout. Several airbrushing companies have exited the industry with few remaining. Support and education have been cut. Many nail art companies have sold out or are patiently awaiting the next upturn. This has resulted in much smaller showing at trade shows. Further reducing the exposure of the category I think the category has bottomed out and is positioning itself for an uptrend within the next two years. There will always be a demand for nail art and airbrushing However the market is limited and those companies that tried to make a quick buck are gone and probably won’t be back for a long time.

Larry Gaynor, president/CEO, The Nailco Group

People who say nail art isn’t popular aren’t coming up with new designs or new products. Nail art is becoming more popular because there are more products and education available. Look at the nail art competitions at shows. That means people think it’s important, or else they wouldn’t offer them. People who aren’t getting into nail art are missing out whether it be handpainted or airbrushed art.

Newton Luu, CEO, LeChat

Nail art is just popular or even more popular than ever before Today’s nail techs are much more talented because they know they have to offer their clients more.

I’ve seen many new designs out there, from puzzle piece nails to three-dimensional art. The designs haven’t toned down at all; I think they’re just as flamboyant as they were a few years ago. I have noticed that there has been a witch from airbrush to handpainted art, especially in Michigan. I don’t see nail art showing down anytime soon.

Pam Sawyer Thompson, founder/CEO, Designer Nail Products


Nail art is definitely coming back. Fashion is dictating it. Look at all the ornamentation and body jewelry out there. People are getting into things like accessories and crystals, and that’s going to draw attention to your hands. If I were a nail tech, I’d be featuring nails with rhinestones on my table. I call it the ‘Rhinestone Age.’ That age will be taking place by the end of this year and in 2002 It’s going to go above and beyond nail art.

Donna Louis, VP/sales and marketing, Kami Nail Art

Nail art is more popular than ever before. We get lots of requests and orders, I keep designing new stencils because people constantly ask for new designs, and we go to shows -- where interest in nail art still exists.

You can really make money if you offer it in a salon. If you promote and show your airbrush designs, then people will ask for them. If you don’t, then there won’t be a demand.

Peggy Laden, president,Safari Airbrush and Nail Excursions

From what I see with the nail technicians that I am fortunate enough to have contact with throughout the world, nail art is certainly not dead — far from it. I think the perception may be nail art is not as popular or as lucrative as it once was, but most nail technicians in the United States are not as lucrative as they once were. The business is changing. The technicians who properly promote their art services as well as properly price their art services will continue to reap the benefits. Of course, some technicians also have a customer base that may be more open to nail art, and location does have an influence on this.

I hear all too often that technicians give away nail art. Once you’ve given something away for free, it is generally 10 times harder to gel the customer to pay for it and now has less value in the customers’ eyes. I certainly will not give away my time for free.

Time is money! You can see why proper pricing and promotion are an integral part of succeeding with any service, especially a nail art service.

Dianne D’Agnolo, owner, Too Much Fun

I don’t see nail art taking a downturn at all. We’re busier than even. It’s picking up all over the world. In fact, rhine- stones and tape are popular in Europe right now.

For years, people said nail art was tacky. Now, as nail techs learn to do better work, they’re realizing that it isn’t tacky at all. If people are taking classes, then they’ll know what to do.

Marlene Sortino, CEO, Snails Italian Jewelry

Let’s face it, the popularity of nail art is directly proportional to the support received in the media or the level of competence and enthusiasm displayed by the salon. I see nail art as an enhancement to a nail job well done — but not as a substitute.

However, nail art is the best free promotion a salon can achieve. We’re used to seeing a French manicure by now. Nobody even lifts an eyebrow when they come across beautifully polished nails. But decorate those nails with butterflies, flowers, or a zebra look and watch how people notice and inquire about the source. Nail art uplifts both young and elderly clients.

As more nails are augmented with decor, nail art in all its facets will mature and become as mainstream as nail care itself.

Elsbeth Schutz, international educator, Orly International

Lately, nail art has been quiet. People just don’t take the time to market themselves. However, nail art is becoming more popular abroad, especially in Europe and Mexico.

Nail art was hot in the 1980s, I’d have two booths at trade shows, with four to five girls doing demos all day, Now. I think discount salons have killed it. They started buying rhinestones at a cheaper pride and wouldn’t even charge to put them on. They’re not using quality products. They’ll put on a decal and a rhinestone and call it nail art. That makes nail techs who do charge for these things struggle. I do think that nail art will come back though. Discount salons just have to learn to charge for a service.

Patti De Marbiex, marketing director, Cina

Nail art cannot and never will die. Those who think nail art is not as popular have reached the cod of their tunnel and are burned out themselves. Art — whether it s on the nail or on a different medium — cannot die. We all need tin our lives to survive, it’s what keeps us going. I swear by nail art. It really says. ‘I have the time and the money to spend on me.

Tina Daley, Ritchnia Nails, London

Nail art is still very popular in this day and time and is still highly requested in my area Nail art is as popular as you make it. Quite naturally a person will not request, what she hasn’t seen. That’s why in some areas it seems like nail art isn’t popular They just haven’t been exposed to it and no one is doing it In some areas it may seen as if it’s dying because some clients have had all types of nail art designs and are now content with solid polish. But new clients still ask for nail art all the time.

I see nail art becoming even more popular because there are many creative individuals coming out with new and innovative concepts every day If 1 wanted to, I could live off of my airbrush art alone because I have made a name for myself with it However, I don’t believe that everyone can do that because your work must be exceptional.’’

Britta Hill, Colors in Motion, Detroit

Nail art is not dead of course, but as we say in the Silicon Valley, it has definitely taken a downturn. As San Jose has become more high tech, nails have become shorter. People here prefer French manicure gels or no artificial nails at all. As more women accept these high tech positions, nail art is gradually being worn less and less. They prefer styles that are low maintenance. So no, it’s not as popular as it once was due to the growing conservative, practical needs of the women in this area — which means it can’t be as lucrative. I have more artist in my blood than manicurist and as the requests for airbrushing decrease, instead of going back to doing nails, I airbrush part time and have gotten a full-time job as a buyer and planner in the semiconductor industry. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Dawn Marie Scheper, Nails By Gunpoint, San Jose, Calif.

There’s always going to be people who want nail art. A small percentage of people want it all the time. Others only want nail art during the holidays. It’s not something a person could live off of though. You need to offer other nail services in order to survive.

A small percentage of my clients like wild, crazy designs, but most people just want artwork on one nail I’ve had people tell me, “That’s nice, but I’d never get it done’ Nail art is always going to be the icing on the cake. People who say it isn’t as popular as it once was aren’t really concentrating on nail art

Sherri Cassell, Camarillo, Calif.

It does seem like it’s slowed down a little, at least in my area. I notice that at trade shows, there’s not enough nail art and airbrushing items available. There aren’t enough paints and techniques; I see the same thing over and over.

Honestly, I don’t think I could make a living by just doing nail art right now. I’d like to get into teaching because most classes only focus on acrylics.

Kim Matos, Naughty By Nails, Linden, N. J.

I have more clients than I can handle. We consider ourselves a specialty shop, and other nail techs in the area even refer their clients to me. In this town, airbrushing is growing. I’ve already trained three nail techs in my salon, and I work on other nail techs’ clients. Half of my business comes from airbrushing, and the holidays are even busier. In fact, I hardly get a lunch break because I’m so busy. If airbrushing got more exposure, people would get it done more often.

Nila Vaughn, Nila’s Elegant Nails, Grants Pass, Ore.

People want to learn more about nail art than ever before. They want to learn more about technique I see handpainted work becoming more popular than airbrushing. That wasn’t the case a few years ago. A lot of people are even getting into a mixture of airbrushing and handpainted artwork.

I’m not seeing much rhinestone work on people’s nails and the hoop, chain, and charm trend is over I do think that glitter polish is going to be big again, What we need to do is transition along with fashion.

Sue Ellen Schultes, Notorious Nail Seminars, Green Brook, NJ

Nail art has changed in the 12 years that I’ve been doing It. A lot of salons are offering it, but it’s different. Some salons do work that’s very basic and sloppy. The quality just isn’t there.

Our work is more expensive, and some clients complain about the prices. They’re used to budget designs from budget salons.

I don’t get as many people asking for it. My older clients still get it, but new clients don’t ask for it as much. Nail art was more of a novelty when I first started.

Lynn Montero-Knapp, Stripe & Tips, Redbank, N.J.

Ninety percent of my customers are nail art clients. It really has to do with how you sell and market it. I have a big frame featuring my artwork on the side of my table, and a smaller frame on my table I change the artwork each month. You really have to be creative with your nail art in order to attract clients. Fox example, I have a client who gave me a baking book, and I’ve gotten lots of ideas from It.

Yalanda Hernandez, La fon’s, Fresno, Calif.

Nail art is going down. A lot of magazines don’t focus on it. In New York, where I’m located, it’s very hip, but that’s not the case in every area. I thought nail art would be bigger by now. It’s getting there, but it’s taking time. Although more people are asking for airbrush designs, you still see more handpainted designs. Airbrushing is just starting to get somewhere.

Gabriella Carino, Gabby’s Razzle Dazzle, Hair & Nail Studio, West lslip, N.Y.

For me, business is about the same. I get fewer people, but I notice it’s seasonal. During the holidays I always get more requests for nail art. Clients don’t want as much intricate work as they did before. They’re really into the half-airbrushed, half-handpainted nail right now. Someone recently asked me it. I thought she could make a living by just doing nail art. It wouldn’t work for me. I have to be versatile in order to keep going.

Judy Jensen, Studio 302, Las Vegas

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