Remember when you were little and you played at your mother’s vanity table? There were so many blushes, eyeshadows, lipsticks, and nail polishes. Something about them always fascinated you. That something, most likely, was color. However, by the time you got through playing with the colors (if you even got that far), you probably looked more like a clown than a young woman.

No matter. All those colors — and probably more — are still available to help your clients express their moods, match their clothes, or just give them that added lift of feeling put together. Although a woman can wear whatever colors she desires, polish manufacturers harbor definite opinions — and influence — over which colors will be most popular in the near future.

That Dynamite Color

The general public seems to harbor widely varying emotions about red nails. Some women outside the fashion and cosmetic industries are hesitant to wear red nails to work, even if they like the look, afraid that the color is too bold, too suggestive, Men seem to like red nails and associate them with confident, self- assured women.

Fingerpaints CEO Gail Freeman understands the simultaneous attraction to red and a desire for something more understated. “Fingerpaints is moving away from the bright neons,” she says. “Today, colors are more to the violets, reds, and sheer colors.”

Regardless of how an individual feels about red nails, the color remains a perennial favourite in the industry. “Red is almost a natural nail in this business,” says Flossie Fisher, administrative vice president of Flossie Diamond Cosmetics.

Joan Vale, director of marketing for Calvert International, thinks reds and dark cranberries will be popular colors. “There’s a real trend in fashion to go to the retro ‘60s and 70s look,” she explains. “People are somewhat bored with French manicures and the natural look. They’re going back to the colors that their mothers wore.”

With the fashion world currently “mad about plaid,” the consensus is that anything red is appropriate. Creative Nail Design is an emphatic backer of this hearty standard, defining its polish statement simply: “What’s Ahead: RED. The wait is over!”

Year-Round Beach Party

Popular though it is, red may be a bit strong for some climates, like tropical islands where the sun always shines. There, the air is always warm, the breezes cool. No chores have to be done, no time constraints beckon one back to a world of responsibility. In short, it’s Paradise.

Though European Secrets can’t send everyone a plane ticket to Paradise, the company brings it home to clients with its Paradise polish collection. “There’s a tropical look to it,” says Charisse Solomon, manager of marketing and sales. “The colors are eye-catching; even our seasonal displays have a distinct look to them. They’re bright — lots of corals, pinks, and reds.

“The inspiration is just being in Florida,” Solomon adds. “We enjoy our lifestyle down here and decided to come up with something based on our location. Two seasons ago, we had a Festival of Colour. The themes are the same, but the colors are different. We don’t do anything outlandish. We’re consistent, on the side of conservatism. We’re not fly-by- night — no neons, yellows, blues, or greens.”

A Mellower Mood

1992 may see fewer of the strong colors — turquoise, vivid red, and orange — that were popular in 1991. OPI Products executive vice president Susan Weiss says that 1992 polish colors will be more understated to go with the rest of one’s makeup. French manicures will be very strong, she predicts, especially in the spring and summer.

Peaches and pinks will be favorites, she says. “Women don’t want men to be looking at their nailcolor. They want manicures, but they want them to blend with natural skin tones.” OPI Products has added a shimmer of gold sparkle, ever so slight, to its natural shades for extra glow.

Weiss advises women to consider their total look when choosing polish. “You don’t want flashy makeup with conservative clothes. Bold colors weren’t a fashion for everyone. They were more of a fad. Wcmen are tired of trying to match their makeup and nails to the big gold buttons on a suit. They want something with more femininity. The classics — reds, pinks, mauves, and sheer colors — will always be around.”

Lynn Hayes Granger, director of marketing and advertising for Orly International, says the company is bringing out a new color collection for Orly Nail Paints. The four colors are various shades of what she describes as “feminine, sun- washed colors in shades of neutral pink. They’ll go with any color pink,” Granger says, “and even red. In that sense, they’re a bit different. One of them can match pink, peach, and red quite well.” There are three creams and one frost in the collection.

Star Mail Products believes that fashion is going back to the basics and will emphasize simplicity this year. According to Star, both artificial and natural nail lengths are expected to be shorter, more professional, and natural looking.

“Very light transparent colors, such as misty pinks and creams, are in with white tips,” says Christina Jahn, marketing director. “Earth Day has transcended into environmental awareness, and the colors will reflect this. Our polish formulas will contain enriched silk amino acids to enhance the natural hues and increase their polishes’ durability. Even the matte colors are enhanced.”

Cina Nail Creations also moves toward pinks and earth tones for spring. “The natural look is popular now, and nail technicians are asking for a lot of pink. Earth tones, such as taupe and coffee, will go well with many spring clothes,” says Patti DeMarbiex, president.

According to April Cook, operations manager, Amoresse Laboratories will be introducing four polish lines. Amoresse’s wedding collec­tion shows off soft pastels and light, romantic shades. The fall/winter shades deepen, featuring bright fuchsia and a deep red. For its spring and summer collection, the company is going with six fun and lively but light shades. Amoresse will also introduce a French manicure collection; Cook will reveal only that it will be “untraditional.”

President Tim Hawkins says that with more than 130 polish colors, Nina International is ready to accommodate anyone’s fashion statement desires. However, when it comes to trends, he says, “polish will complement the garment industry trends, which appear to be moving toward the subtle European classics. As reflected in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and European style previews, the spring will blossom with a return to the sheer and natural collection of colors such as pinks, creams, and tints to dress up the traditional French manicure.”

Develop 10 plans a stronger continuation of the natural look. French manicures will use peaches, light white tones, pink, and beige, says Lee Spelling, vice president of marketing. “Soft pinks, beiges, and cream colors such as alabaster will be popular. So will mauves.” Develop 10 introduces an exotic resort collection this month. “The colors can be worn year-round,” says Spelling, “but because they’re bright, they’ll lift people’s spirits during the dull winter days.”

He thinks the collection will give manicurists and their clients a welcome option.

Polish in the Buff

American Manicure’s success with sheer naturals may stem from the continued popularity of the natural, polished nail. “When the company began four or five years ago, the natural look was the new trend in hair and cosmetics,” president Donn Bearman says. “It seemed logical that it would transfer over to nails. I wouldn’t even call it a trend anymore. It’s just a very popular look.”

Many business women aren’t comfortable wearing bold polish to the office but like to loosen up and have fun during the weekends. Natural nails reflect their work lifestyle but they don’t necessarily want to be limited to neutrals. “We don’t see our natural shades as replacing something as much as adding another choice for people,” explains Bearman.

American Manicure’s latest polish is neutral, which came out in July and complements the company’s original and peach natural shades. Bearman says that many people can wear all three, but the subtle differences make one better suited for certain skin tones. Thus, the three offerings provide natural nail color choices for women of various ethnic backgrounds — and for people whose skin tones change from tanning.

The majority of polish companies, even the ones bringing forth their new colorful collections, agree that French manicure shades will remain a polish wardrobe staple.

Starting Out

Tammy Taylor Nails’ 12 colors are named for its distributors’ cities and employee hometowns, all in pink or red themes. The colors are Palm Springs Pink, D.C. Blossom, Fresno Mauve, Big Pine Lavender, Baton Rouge, Tulsa Plum, Edmonton Punch, Bakers- field Berry, Nebraska Red, Raton Rose, Las Vegas Heat, and Trinidad Sunset.

“Nebraska Red has fine speckles in it,” says manager Richard Hudnall. “They’re not prominent, but they’re definitely there.”

Tammy Taylor Nails wants to eventually expand its polish line to about 50 colors, according to Hudnall. “We don’t want to stock too many at one time,” he explains. “You can get lost in it. We also don’t want to introduce a color just to have it out. It has to make us happy.”

E-Z Flo co-owner Danny Haile describes its line, “There are a lot of reds and mauves, and a few corals. It seems that they match the hippie-type clothes that are coming back. They aren’t really seasonal, so people should be able to find just about anything they would wear on a regular basis.”

Matrix Essentials introduced its coordinated lip color and polish line in July. “The look for 1992 will become softer, more sensuous because eyes will be strong,” says Sydell Miller, co-founder and executive vice president. “They are artist’s colors — they have more integrity than in the past,” she adds. “Bare or nude feelings of color will still be big. There will also be different tones of corals and pinks, just a bit clearer in color than they have been.”

Miller says Matrix has developed a pigment suspension system for rich colors. “With two or three strokes, you can cover the entire nail,” says Miller. “You can get full coverage in one coat. However, we don’t advise nail technicians to use only one coat because their clients will expect their manicures to last at least one week, two if they only come once every two weeks for fills. But people who do their nails at home are satisfied when their polish lasts three days.”

Art of Beauty plans to debut a new polish line this month. The makers of Zoom Dry will produce two different lines: Zoom colors to live and play in, and Adagio, romantic and feminine colors. Michael Reyzis, president, won’t divulge any information on the colors in either collection, but he promises the colors and names will be “as sensational as the quality of the company’s other products.”

Reyzis admits it’s hard to be different in a market that is already full of so many polish colors. “Our packaging makes a difference. And our polish is something that had to match the quality of Zoom Dry — to have the ability to dry as soon as possible, to contain protection from wearing off, and to have strength in itself.”

Art of Beauty’s combined collection of 24 to 30 colors is based on different skin tones, which Reyzis separates into seasons. He feels that although younger women will wear a variety of shades, older, more conservative women will stick with a narrower range of colors.

From Light to Dark

Essie Weingarten, CEO and president of Essie Cosmetics, hopes to encourage her customers to use dark colors, which she feels have been neglected. Her latest colors range from light russet to chocolate and include Funky Monkey, Hot Fudge Sundae, Russian Roulette, and Snapdragon. They are “delicious, rich colors — intense colors that you can’t miss, but that aren’t bright,” she says.

For the spring, Weingarten is thinking of reds — soft reds, classic, sentimental reds, pink reds, and a continuation of corals.

Columbia Cosmetics’ fall/winter collection also features rich, dark shades. Its complementary nail and lip colors include Winterberry, Perfect Plum, and Ruby Rust.

Winter brings lots of reds, oranges, and earth colors, according to Anna Macek, owner of Annastasia. Spring and summer should bring subtle pinks, naturals, and neutrals. “The earth tones, naturals, and neutrals are good for day-to-day life,” says Macek. “But we’re also going back to the ‘60s in fashion and color. People will wear bold red, high-gloss, with pale complexions. There will also be a lot of contrast in clothes. For example, women will wear bright green clothes with wine on their lips and nails.”

Flossie Diamond Cosmetics focuses on six winter colors, with names such as Fuchsia Flash, Burgundy, 18 Karat Gold, Red Corvette, Show Off Red, and Red Glitter. “Burgundy is big in clothes and probably will be all winter,” says Fisher. “The other bright colors will go with black, the reds with plaids. Our colors are flashy, holiday-like, and wintery. They’re fun colors — very different from what we’ve had before. Expect us to keep coming up with something new and different. Winter is a good season to try something new. Everyone wants something fun for the holidays.”

Forsythe Cosmetic Group offers the Holiday Gift of Color prepack to brighten the season. The prepack holds a bottle of Holly Berry Red polish and a lipstick and lip pencil to match. CEO Harriet Rose says that women will have a lot of flexibility next year. “There will be a lot of soft colors to reflect soft styles but also a lot of vibrant colors for those who wish to be bold,” Rose says.

“Everyone seems to be doing whatever they like in terms of color these days, so an individual’s polish choice will be based on versatile wardrobes. We have 233 shades in our line and add six every season, so we should be able to meet the needs of every nail technician in every state.”

Eenie, Meenie, Miny, Moe

Many manufacturers admit that only a percentage of their nail colors actually sell consistently throughout the year, or even during a particular season. They also know they won’t sell the same amount of every shade they introduce.

“If you asked a technician to show you the most popular shades, she’ll pull out maybe 12,” says Solomon. “Many people wear basically the same colors week after week, unless they put on a color to match an outfit for a specific occasion.”

A number of companies have simply chosen not to introduce a new polish line this spring. Renee Andres, vice president of customer service for Miss Professional Nail Products, says that any additions to its polish line are independent of seasonal changes. Concerning polish colors, Andres says, “Industry-wide, s lot of people are staying with corals, peaches, and pastels. I don’t think that neons will be popular. People are tired of them because they’ve been out a couple of years.” Spelling agrees that the bright, showy look is out. As he puts it, “Neon is dead.”

Several companies are pulling back on their polish reins because, as they proclaim, “How many colors can there be? How many can one person use?” Such is the case with China Glaze International. “We have 102 colors,” explains Martin Menchaca, Jr., general manager. “And we’re satisfied with the ones we carry.”

Cathy Maori, sales manager for Beauty 21 Cosmetics, also says her company hasn’t considered adding new polish colors for next year because they already have a selection of 90.

Even with only 24 basic colors, Nail Magic is content. Jeff Haken, assistant sales manager, says the company will stick with its basic colors and be known for reliability, not creativity. “My father used to work in a department store,” he explains, “and he was tired of all the discontinued items. It’s the same with the polish colors. Other companies come out with fad colors, and then the customer can’t find them after a few months.”

Nail Magic has carried its polish for only about a year, but is pleased with its success. The bright colors — purples and reddish pinks — have been the most popular.

Simply Elegant is another company that is holding its current polish line steady. Virginia King, sales director, says, “Our emphasis is on what is best for the environment, nail technicians, and their customers in our Elegant Glass brush- on fiberglass system. But our polish is still being used by our customers. We carry 135 colors — from creams to frosts as well as five fine glitters.”

Calvert International recently dropped 47 of its 97 colors, then added 22, for a total of 72 colors.

After all this talk of earth tones, pinks, mauves, reds, natural tones, glitter, and everything else in between, you’re probably still wondering what polish your clients should wear. The answer is, whatever they want. That’s the point. Tell them to be bold, feminine, cute, natural, color-coordinated, silly — however they feel. Just hope that they don’t paint their faces to match the little girls’ peering at them through the mirrors of time.


The Formaldehyde Question

Some polishes have it, some polishes don’t. “It,” in this case, is formaldehyde. Though manufacturers seem to agree that the formaldehyde in polish is not in a form that can harm anyone, some companies have decided to omit formaldehyde from their formulas because they fear that technicians may not understand that, when properly used, polish poses no threat to their health.

Several companies have toyed with formaldehyde-free polish, with varying degrees of success.

Anna Macek, Annastasia: “We don’t use straight formaldehyde, we use formaldehyde resin, which is less than 1% There’s no reason to be concerned about damage to the nails. It’s nothing to worry about unless we pour straight formaldehyde onto them.”

Cathy Macri, Beauty 21 Cosmetics: “Our polish has always been formaldehyde-free. A lot of customers don’t want formaldehyde. They ask us if our polish has formaldehyde, but they don’t say if they’re asking because they’re scared of the chemical or if they’re allergic to it.”

Joan Vale, Calvert International: “We are recognized for always having had a formaldehyde-free polish, and we fill that need for people who are concerned about the chemical.”

Flossie Fisher, Flossie Diamond Cosmetics “We tried formaldehyde-free polish during our first six months three years ago. The polish wasn’t as good as it could be; it wasn’t wearing as well. Now I’m happier with it [with the formaldehyde back in]. We had to change. It was a hard decision, but right now formaldehyde-free polish won’t work for us

Jessica Vartoughian, Jessica Cosmetics: “Formaldehyde keeps products germ-free, bacteria-free. People against formaldehyde look at one side but not the other. So many items — bread, milk, lotions — have formaldehyde to keep them bacteria-free. It’s a delicate issue. Our polishes don’t even have 2% formaldehyde.”

Renee Andres, Miss Professional Nail Products: “Our polishes are formaldehyde-free, but we do have 1% of 1 % formaldehyde resin in them. The resin is required in all polishes to have a good base. The amount of resin used is so small that we aren’t required by the FDA to list it as an ingredient, but we do because we want our customers to know we’re being honest with them.”

Lynn Hayes Granger, Orly International: “Products with formaldehyde last longer are more durable, and are chip resistant. The concentration of formaldehyde present in nail polish is not harmful The non-formaldehyde stuff is a marketing position taken by the manufacturers [because they know some people are concerned about the chemical], I feel it’s deceptive advertising and capitalizes on people’s fears.”

Christina Jahn, Star Nail Products: “The whole issue is so over-dramatized that they’ve missed the meaning of what formaldehyde-free means in polishes, there is such a low percentage of formaldehyde, but some technicians can’t stop panicking about it. There’s more formaldehyde in food and paper than there is in polish. The issue doesn’t even deserve the debate but once the hysteria starts, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Richard Hudnall, Tammy Taylor Nails: “All our polishes are formaldehyde-free, and they dry in seven to eight minutes. We made them this way because a lot of clients are allergic to formaldehyde.”


Toluene: Threat or Hysteria?

In California, Proposition 65 threatens to restrict the use of toluene, a chemical that has been used for approximately 50 years in nail polish to help its fluidity. Proposition 65 has listed toluene in some forms as a potential carcinogen. Studies are still being done to determine if the chemical is hazardous to people when used in nail polish.

Some large cosmetic manufacturers have filed an appeal against Prop. 65 because the concentration of toluene in nail polish is so small If the appeal is denied, products sold in California will either have to eliminate toluene as one of its ingredients, or stores must display a warning sign informing consumers that the product being sold contains a chemical that has been determined to be a potential health threat.

Though the proposition is now being appealed, many companies have experimented with taking toluene out of their products. What do polish manufacturers think of this potential law? How do they feel about toluene-free products?

Michael Reyzis, Art of Beauty; “We are eventually removing toluene from our polish, though we’ll have a toluene resin.”

Joan Vale, Calvert International: “The controversy about it is becoming more apparent, more of an issue. People are starting to hear more about it. A group of manufacturers are planning to get together and do an advertising campaign; stressing the reasons why toluene is used in polish. and that polish only contains a minimal amount of it. We’re not planning on removing toluene from our polish at this time. California is only one state.”

Gail Freeman, Fingerpaints: “We will be conforming to Prop. 65 and removing toluene when it passes.”

Jessica Vartoughian, Jessica Cosmetics. “Our polishes have been toluene-free for the last six to eight months. The one I have now is pretty good Quality is very important to me and I am working very hard to achieve the best product possible. Polish with toluene stays better, coagulates better, and has a longer life on the nail. But we have to follow the government’s rule. I haven’t made a decision yet as to whether or not I’m going to make the entire line toluene-free, although all of my products for California will be toluene-free on January 1.”

Sydell Miller, Matrix Essentials: “We’ve decided to follow the EPA’s request that manufacturers eliminate or lower the amount of toluene in our products. This is not an issue that should concern consumers. They aren’t exposed long enough or on a consistent basis. But technicians accumulate exposure over a long period of time. Our government is getting tougher on a lot of issues.”

Susan Weiss, OPI Products: “The problem is, the proposition doesn’t cover the product’s exposure level. They’re not really concerned about the small amounts of toluene in nail polish, but the amounts that the pesticide industry uses, for example. Toluene is the stuff that gets sprayed from the airplanes.”

Eric Montgomery, OPI Products: “The jury is still out on it so it’s very difficult to make a statement about it at this time. It could change tomorrow. We feel that omitting either formaldehyde or toluene from polish leads to a sacrifice in performance. There are no clear-cut answers. We’re up in the air, too. It’s up to individual companies to take the risk of not complying, of opening themselves up to fines and legal pressure if the appeal fails.”

Lynn Hayes Granger, Orly International: “We’ve tested products without toluene I don’t feel they work as well as regular polish. The percentage of toluene in nail polish is nothing to worry about. It’s not detrimental to anyone. The Federal requirements say that no more than seven micrograms of toluene can evaporate into the air while a product is in use. We tested all Orly polishes and only lost 6/10 of one microgram. I’m pretty confident that it [the proposition] won’t pass.”

Christina Jahn, Star Nail Products: “We are adding toluene-free polish as we add new colors and are having our existing colors reformulated at this time. We have tested toluene-free polish and have found a formula which performs as well as our existing polish. However, Star Nails is not implying that toluene is or was hazardous to humans in any way We feel the studies have not been completely conclusive to base any decisions.”


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