Nail Art is Dead, Long Live Nail Art - Your Fingers' Futures in 2013 - A Trend Analysis


(Photo via Twitter; Getty) Katy Perry's nails in May 2012 vs. her nails in January 2013

Miranda Lambert's nails at the 2012 American Country Awards in December. (Getty)
Back in 2011, headlines across the country sirened "Nail Polish Is The New Lipstick!" Chalked up to the economic decline, it was believed women were reaching to nails — not clothes, or before that, lipstick — as a new, more affordable means of self-expression.

Now, three years later, nail art's proven its more than just a fad, it's an accessory — another piece to our wardrobe puzzle, much like a handbag or a heel — and it's a staple that's here to stay.

In 2012 alone, U.S. nail polish sales hit a whopping $768 million, a 32 percent increase over 2011, according to a recent report in WWD.

However, the calculated and coordinated styles of 2013 are a far cry from the garish accents that boomed through 2011 and early 2012. "The more radical they are, the more desirable, it seems, kinky nails having acquired a cool factor more recently reserved for niche fragrances," Ruth La Ferla wrote in a New York Times trend piece on nails last April.

This year, that's all starting to change.

"Nail art has evolved from being something kitschy, like doing something on your pinky, to something that's edgy but veritable," said Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, co-founder and artistic director of OPI Products Inc. "Before it was more kind of in-your-face nail art, but now it's more mainstream today, maybe even a little more toned down." 


(Photos by Getty) Katy Perry's nails back in 2010.

This phenomenon, she says, all is thanks in part to the widespread assortment of new products — nail wraps, decals, gels, texturized top coats, etc. — on the market. "I think it's taking a more sophisticated turn because of the different textures available. You can make the jewel-like effect much easier."

Rica Romain, celebrity manicurist for Red Carpet Manicure, has also noticed the same pattern. "I don't think there has been a push away from 3D nails, but I do think the market is starting to shift," she said. "There is still a great demand for colors and prints for this market, but consumers are leaning towards the trends that are still practical such as reverse French, ombre, or appliqués and at home gel polishes."

FilmDistrict With The Cinema Society, L'Oreal Paris And Appleton Estate Host A Screening Of
(Photo by Getty) Jennifer Lopez sports a reverse French manicure at the "Parker" screening on January 23, 2013.

At Valley Salon in NYC, the go-to nail art spot for the city's fashion set, shop co-owner Nina Werman says she's been receiving "more sophisticated" requests over the past few months, as well: "Because of gel enhancements, our clients are getting a lot more toned-down looks. In some cases more simple — or at least the appearance of being simple. Straight lines seem easy, but anything geometric isn't easy to achieve."

Instead of intense 3D masterpieces, Werman noted many women have moved away to more literal interpretations of art. "They want to have paintings on their nails," she said. "They're really in awe by the artistry of the painting."

Zooey+Deschanel in Fox Searchlight 2013 Golden Globe Awards Party - Arrivals
(Photo by Getty) Zooey Deschanel's nails at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards Party on January 13, 2013 It's catching on in Hollywood, too. While Zooey Deschanel's flaunted intricate illustrations on her digits for years, like the itty-bitty movie reel from the 2013 Golden Globes, above, more traditional, polished actresses like Anne Hathaway are starting to get in on the action.

Anne+Hathaway in 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Red Carpet
(Photo by Getty) Anne Hathaway's white-and-black butterflies at Screen Actors Guild Awards h on January 27, 2013 "I think creating a featured nail or two allows individuality without potential tackiness," said L’Oréal Paris' Consulting Nail Expert Tom Bachik, the "Man-icurist" behind Hathaway's whimsical butterfly-embellished nails at the 2013 SAG Awards this past Sunday. "It gives even the most apprehensive the opportunity to give nail art a try."

Celebrity Manicurist Gina Edwards, for Kiss Products, Inc., seconds that. "Women of all ages are experimenting with color and nail art," she said. "There are no limits! But the more casual, conservative women are selecting nail art on one or two fingers instead of all 10 fingers."


(Photo via Twitter; Getty) Katy Perry's nails in May 2012 vs. her nails in December 2012.

Even kitsch-queen Katy Perry has toned her offensively over-the-top style down, just look at her nails' transformation over the past several months. The singer with a love for all things gaudy rocked beige — yes, plain beige! — nails at an event in December.

"I know that coming out of Japan right now is something we've been doing for awhile, we've been pushing [the trend] but it hasn't quite caught on just yet," said Werman. "It's the nude nail — a really simple design that's much more stark with a clear polished nail and line drawings. That's something I think is going to catch on in 2013 but just hasn't yet."

Well, we know Busy Philipps got the memo. The actress opted for a neutral peach manicure with two gem-encrusted nails at the SAG Awards. "Ok. Went 'classic' with nude nails but then got crazy with 2 of them for the @SAGawards!" she tweeted before the show.

(Photo via Twitter) Busy Philipps' 2013 SAG Awards manicure

Almost as a backlash to the neon bright best-sellers of last year, both celebrities and designers are making a move back to pared-down palettes — but with a twist. Neutrals are no longer boring or barely-there, but bold.

For example, at Honor's spring 2013 show, Deborah Lippmann lacquered models' digits with a white hue that, though desaturated in color, still made a statement in starkness. And at the 2013 Golden Globes, Stacy Keibler sported Lippmann's "Modern Love," a punchy mauve hue the manicurist dubbed the "new nude."

"I think we're still liking the idea of a little something," Lippmann said of spring 2013's nude manicure. "It's a nude that shows up, that makes a statement, and is definitely still there. It's still about standing out."

Speaking of standing out, Kesha — the girl who once plastered the anatomically correct term for junk across her talon-shaped nails — has surprisingly also taken her balls-out (sorry, had to!) approach to nail art down a notch over the past few months.


(Photo via Instagram) Kesha's "penis" nails from August 2012

The 3D gems, bold blossoms, and inappropriate inscriptions that once accented the singer's claw-like finger fixtures have been traded out for more subtle (well, subtle for her standards) styles like the looks below:


(Photos by Getty) Kesha's nails on January 9, 2013 and October 18, 2012

Snapped just a few weeks ago, the black nails with gray squiggles, above, might just be the tamest style we've seen Kesha wear in years.

So while brazen, purposely outrageous kitsch may be losing it's "cool factor," fret not for the future of nail art — whether it comes as wraps or decals, gel artistries or texturized top coats — the party's just getting started.

"The 'It' nails for 2013 are all about personal flair, while wearing them with confidence," said Tracylee, Sally Hansen's nail ambassador. "Anything that makes you feel sexy and confident is on 100 percent on trend."

So what are you waiting for? Grab some glitter (just not too much — think accent nails here, people!) and go for it.

KIIS FM's 2012 Jingle Ball - Night 2 - Backstage

See more celebrity nail art looks here:
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