You may be familiar with ‘the lipstick effect’ — the idea that we switch to more affordable indulgences in times of economic stress.
Expensive lipstick, so the thinking goes, becomes the acceptable feel-good alternative to, say, a designer handbag, offering a touch of luxury for a much smaller price.
But given we leave the house less often these days, experts are noting it’s nail polish that has become the beauty treat du jour.
Market researchers NPD UK, have spotted an increase in the sales of base coats, topcoats and nail colour during lockdown (file image)
According to market researchers NPD UK, since the country went into lockdown, sales of base coats and topcoats have risen by 102 per cent, while nail colour has jumped up by 18 per cent.
‘Consumers are turning to self-care and home-based beauty treatments like manicures to improve wellbeing and boost their mood,’ says Emma Fishwick of NPD UK.
Of course, forgoing nail appointments at a salon in favour of DIY jobs can have differing results. But help is at hand with online tutorial videos by savvy manicurists and technicians. Here is our pick of the best.
BACK TO BASICS
Celebrity manicurist Jenni Draper, who has done the nails of stars including Kate Winslet and Adele, has been sharing her advice on Instagram (pictured)
Celebrity manicurist Jenni Draper, who works for fashion magazines including Vogue and who has done the nails of Kate Winslet and Adele, started uploading videos to @jennidraper77 on Instagram in the first week of lockdown.
‘I’m mindful that people who are inexperienced, with limited resources, need to be able to follow the videos,’ she says.
Her advice includes everything from tips on filing nails to creating pretty, subtle, shimmering stars by dotting pale white or pink polish where you want them and using a very fine brush to create the star shape, then adding a clear top coat.
TRY THIS: For the perfect square nail shape, lay hands down flat and work straight across with the nail file at a right angle to the nail tip. File nails in one direction. A seesaw action makes them splinter.
IT’S PARTY TIME
Metta Francis who is the founder of London-based nail service Nails By Mets, has been hosting ‘Insta nail parties’ (pictured) since restrictions began
In normal times, Metta Francis, founder of London-based nail service Nails By Mets, visits clients including Olympic cyclist Laura Kenny and British tennis player Katie Swann at their homes.
Since restrictions began, Metta has been hosting free ‘Insta nail parties’ every Saturday night. For an hour via Instagram (@nailsbymets), she has been demonstrating nail looks with viewers painting along. You will also find lots of tutorials.
‘I spend a lot of time on social media and can usually see what people’s pain points are, such as finding it hard to paint their nails neatly at home,’ she says.
TRY THIS: Re-creating Metta’s ‘rainbow nail art’ is simple. Use a fine paintbrush, bright polishes and a little tray. Put a drop of each polish on to the tray, so you don’t overload the brush by dipping it into the bottles.
After a clear base coat, start halfway down the nail and draw each colour in a fine line to the tip, finishing with a clear top coat.
Michelle Humphrey who has worked with Cate Blanchett and Kylie Minogue, showcases his nail art on Instagram (pictured)
A renowned nail artist who has worked with Cate Blanchett and Kylie Minogue, Michelle Humphrey’s @nailsbymh Instagram account showcases ambitious, creative looks — 3D ombre leopard print, anyone? — painted on to stick-on nails. ‘I try to keep my videos clear and concise,’ she says.
TRY THIS: Experts generally agree that applying gel nail polish is best left to manicurists, but if you can’t wait until a salon appointment, guard strips are essential.
Like nail-shaped pieces of Sellotape that put a protective barrier between your nail and the gel polish, they make removal easier, as they can be gently peeled off. Michelle uses Elegant Touch Nail Guards For Press-On Nail Manicure (£3.99, amazon.co.uk).
Leading nail technician Marian Newman, shares her trend-driven nail art on Instagram (pictured) under the handle @mariannewman
Arguably the leading nail technician in the world, Marian Newman has worked with top photographers, designers and make-up artists, as well as stars from Joanna Lumley to Angelina Jolie.
Her @mariannewman Instagram account is packed with trend-driven catwalk inspiration.
You will find fun ideas such as one taken from the Roland Mouret Autumn/Winter 2020 runway show, where Marian gave models ‘statement’ nails of vibrant gold, while the rest were oxblood — surprisingly chic. There are also gems of advice on healthy nail care.
TRY THIS: Choosing a contrasting texture, such as glitter or matte, for a single-statement nail will make the overall look of your mani more eye-catching.
CLASSIC WITH TWIST
Michelle Lee who has worked with actresses including Julianne Moore and Tina Fey, shares her nail on YouTube and Instagram (pictured)
New York-based celebrity manicurist Michelle Lee (@misspopnails) creates quirky, but wearable, designs using subtle details such as a fine gold line across a burgundy nail.
When she is not working on fashion shoots with actresses such as Julianne Moore and Tina Fey, you can find her on YouTube, where she offers alternatives for products you might not have — for example, hand sanitiser is a good stand-in for cuticle softener.
TRY THIS: For an easy way to create a trendy ‘negative space’ effect (when you leave part of the nail unvarnished), wrap masking tape around the nail to cover the bottom half.
Apply base coat to the bare tip followed by two coats of a colour. Finish with a clear top coat, wait to dry, then remove the tape for a striking look.
Michelle Class who has done the nails of Jennifer Lawrence and Olivia Colman, offers educational and creative nail tutorials for £10
Michelle Class, who has worked with Jennifer Lawrence and Olivia Colman, has started 90-minute workshops on Instagram (@michelleclassnails).
For £10 you can watch themed demonstrations, from prepping nails for polishing to nail-art techniques. ‘My tutorials are educational and creative,’ she says. ‘And I’ll always create a “how to” from my celebrity red-carpet looks.’
TRY THIS: Apply a soft white tip and then sheer pink over the nail (rather than the other way around). This is how Michelle achieved Margot Robbie’s natural look with a chic twist for this year’s Baftas.