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Is Nail Polish Dying a Slow Death?

The nail polish boom seems to be drying up. According to WWD, the sales of nail polish--which have risen exponentially in the past several years--have finally begun to ebb.
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The nail polish boom seems to be drying up.

According to WWD, nail polish sales--which rose exponentially over the the past several years--have finally begun to ebb. Despite the fact that both drugstore and specialty brands alike continue to develop and release new lines (cough Sephora cough) and set up special displays of the stuff, the growth of the nail polish sector as a whole has slowed considerably.

In the last year, sales of high end polish have increased by 19%--down 23% from the year prior, while drugstore brands also rose 19%, down 5.8%. For comparison, in 2011, sales of nail polish in both divisions rose an unprecedented 67% and 35.7% respectively.

But don't declare the billion-dollar industry dead just yet, says David Greenberg, the president of Maybelline New York, Garnier, and Essie at L’Oréal. People are still buying nail polish, just not as much as they were before. “Not everything can grow at 40 percent a year, but if it grows at 5 or 6 percent, that’s pretty good," Greenberg explains.

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One reason why nail polish is staying put in the beauty market? According to industry consultant Allan Mottus, texting. Yep--all that frequent finger usage (women apparently had no need for them prior to mobile phones) means that chipping runs rampant. The more chips, the more reapplications, which leads to empty nail polish bottles, which leads to... well, you get the idea. (I've never personally experienced this phenomenon of chipped nail polish via texting... but what do I know?)

As a recovering nail art addict myself, I'm happy to see the polish game take a chill pill--though I'll admit that it's still sometimes hard for me to pass by one of those pretty rainbow-y displays in Duane Reade without buying a bottle. It sounds like it'll be a while, still, before stores start removing them from their sales floor entirely... but I wouldn't be shocked to see a backlash developing in the coming seasons due to over-saturation in the market.

Hey, if it happened to Beanie Babies, it can happen to nail polish.