Although growth in the nail care and color market has slowed since 2013, interest in gel polish manicures continues to be popular as new research from Mintel reveals 23 percent of female consumers have received a gel manicure at a salon in the last year*, an increase of 35 percent over 2013 (17 percent).

Mintel trended data reveals that gel polish manicures have grown in popularity both in salons and at home in recent years. Indeed, 14 percent of US women have done a gel manicure themselves in the last year*, up from 7 percent in 2013. For those women using gel nail polish at home, the biggest increase in usage has come from gel hybrid polishes that do not require use of light with 20 percent of female consumers using this product in 2015 compared to 11 percent in the year prior.

Usage of gel polish is highest among older Millennial women and Hispanic women: one third (32 percent) of women age 25-34 and two in five (42 percent) Hispanic women use some kind of gel polish when doing their own nails. Key among overall positive attitudes toward gel polish are that it outlasts regular polish (30 percent), is worth the additional cost (18 percent) and makes nails look thicker (16 percent). However, despite these touted benefits, nearly one quarter (23 percent) of women believe it is a hassle to remove gel manicures.

“American women have a positive attitude about the look and durability of gel manicures, leading to a surge in popularity both in salons and at home in the last year. As gel hybrid products have been pivotal to product innovation, we predict usage will continue to increase, despite slowed growth of the category overall in the last few years,” said Shannon Romanowski, Category Manager, Health, Household, Beauty & Personal Care at Mintel. “Our research reveals that Millennial women and Hispanic women – both of whom over index for usage of gel polish – are vital in shaping current nail trends and driving category growth. This suggests the potential for gel polish lines to target specific female demographics with unique messaging and brand ambassadors to further engage them in the nail color and care category.”

While the nail color and care market increased 42 percent from 2010-13 reaching just over $2 billion, sales in this category are trend-driven and cyclical, pointing to a sales drop in 2014 to $1.9 billion. Mintel predicts stagnant sales will continue through 2017, with an upswing by 2020, returning sales to a forecast $2 billion.

In addition to evolving trends, Mintel research also indicates that declines in usage have led to lower sales figures, especially among teen girls who are some of the most involved nail product users but are highly influenced by trends. Frequency of usage among teen girls age 12-17 has declined from a high of 4.65 times per month in 2013 to a low of 3.51 times per month in 2015. This waning interest has had an especially strong impact on the nail polish segment. As the largest but also the most trend-sensitive segment, nail polish – despite positive growth in gel polish sales – has seen sales decline 13.6 percent from 2013 to $960 million in 2015.

“As nails have taken a backseat to color cosmetics, specifically eyebrow makeup, usage has dropped, contributing to an overall decline in sales since 2013. We find that teen girls in particular are less involved with the category as they are especially driven by fashion trends. While the current nail color and care market is suffering from the cyclical nature of beauty trends, it is likely that nail brands can expect another surge in sales in the near future, when experimentation in nail care will again emerge,” continued Romanowski.

Female consumers may also be turned off by concerns about ingredient safety in nail products. Some 27 percent of women who get nail services are concerned about chemicals in nail products, while another one quarter (24 percent) are concerned about the damage to their nails from frequent polishing.

When selecting a polish color for at-home usage, the major influencer is being appropriate for everyday wear (37 percent), followed by being a classic color that doesn’t go out of style (26 percent), suggesting that current trends have moved from bold, special effect offerings toward more natural-looking, conservative shades. Further indicating a trend toward more natural and professional looking nails, nail treatments have been a strong-performing segment increasing 18 percent 2013-15 with 33 percent of women using these products when doing their own nails.

“Our research reveals a trend toward more natural and professional looking nails, in response to consumer’s concern over ingredient safety and desire for appropriate everyday wear. Brands can respond to demand for more suitable, everyday colors, while also bolstering promotion of basic nail care accessories and nail treatment, which are areas of growth in the current market,” concluded Romanowski.

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*year ending October 2015

Press copies of the Nail Color and Care US 2016 report and interviews with Shannon Romanowski, Category Manager, Health, Household, Beauty & Personal Care, are available on request from the press office.

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