Some like ‘em bright, others like ‘em ‘crackling'…as far as painting nails goes. Staid is out

If whims could have shades, right now, they could be a ‘storm green' or an ‘atomic orange'. How about a ‘red hot tamale' or a ‘crimson scream'? The crazier they are, there is a colour to match. Painting nails is so much like succumbing to a whim. So ephemeral, yet so uplifting.

While most women say they paint their nails “to feel good”, “to be trendy” or just “to beat boredom”, the business of the charming little bottles of colour is now bubbling with a ‘bright' new energy.

“Sober is out,” says a salesgirl in a leading cosmetics shop in Kochi. “This is the age of the dazzling,” she says, pointing to a row of tomato-red nail polish bottles. “Unconventional shades are in. Those that are flying off the shelves are flaming reds, tangerine oranges, sunshine yellows and the eerie browns, blacks and blues,” she explains.

The fascination for screaming extremities has well-derived reasons. “Outlandish colours make people stare,” says Renu Nathan, senior coordinator, corporate communications at a multinational company. They also cheer her up when she is feeling low, and are ideal to cover up ink stains. Management student Anu George, feels “If the hair is a red or pink, the nails ought to complement it, don't they?”

Doshy Maria George, a software developer, always finds herself picking out the browns, black and reds, “because they perfectly complement a wheatish complexion,” she says.

Lakme's makeover artist Reena Cherian attributes it to the changing attitudes. “The fuchsias and neons are no longer for the crazy or the rebellious. Girls are not afraid they would be branded so,” she says.

The entry of international brands into the cosmetics market has resulted in a chromatic revolution in preferences. Companies such as Chambor, MAC, Bonjour, Max Factor and Colourbar have exploded through the colour spectrum.

Colour, effects

However, it isn't just colour. Textures that address even the minutest concern of a nail polish lover are available in the market today. Shimmer, matt and gloss to begin with. Effects are in too! The ‘seven-day' effect guarantees that the nail polish does not wear off. One-stroke nail covers promise a worry-free nail painting experience. As the name suggests, these do not require several attempts at getting that perfect glassy-smooth finish. The fatter, fuller brush covers the entire nail area and provides a generous coat of paint in just one stroke. The ‘chip-resistant' varieties, meanwhile, promise a sheen that would stay intact for ten days. The ‘one-second' range comes with a brush that has a ‘sweeping effect'.

The crackle effect is the latest on the block. The polish appears fashionably chipped. It comes in a set of three bottles—a base shade, the colour and a transparent varnish. First the base coat is applied, then the colour and, finally, a coat of transparent lacquer. Renu prefers the crackle effect “as it kills the monotony of plain shades”.

In keeping with international trends, Indian brands are innovating. Lakme has brought out two new quick-drying ranges called Fast and Fabulous, which guarantees easy application and Colour Crush, which comes in 30 bright colours, says Reena.

The bottles, too, have changed in shape, size and cost. While you can pick up a teeny bottle of ‘desert green' for Rs. 45, you have the option of choosing a foreign brand in the same colour for Rs. 600.

“The sudden influx of summery colours has made nail art all the more exciting,” says Sabitha Sunil, a beauty parlour owner. She has clients, especially children, who love to have cartoon characters designed on their nails. “With greens, yellows and reds, the patterns look all the more fun,” she says.

Nail polishes say a bit about the person's character, feels Anu. “The way your nails are kept say a thing or two about the person you are,” she says. “Those who wear blacks and reds tend to be people who are willing to get out of their comfort zones,” she adds. She prefers matt finishes for casual dresses and glossy finish nail paints for formal wear.