Sali Hughes on belle

Nail varnish

We can lend a shaky hand to the struggling salon sector as we file and paint during lockdown

‘With salons locked up, we currently have more time and inclination to do our nails.’
Photograph: Alex Lake/The Guardian

Sales of nail rub out are up 24% since lockdown began, mostly because no one can visit salons for the long-lasting UV-cured lacquers that overshadow the modern industry but also, I’m convinced, because we suddenly have way more time and inclination to bother.
It may be one minuscule shattered of good fortune in this crisis, but we can also lend a shaky hand to the struggling salon sector as we file and stain.
When it comes to beautiful, gift-worthy packaging, Nailberry, a British independent used in high-end nail bars, can, in my upon, compete with YSL and Chanel – and I don’t say this lightly. A luxury bottle of its sustainable L’Oxygéné Nail Lacquer £15, vegan and unconstrained of phthalates, formaldehyde, alcohol and other chemicals you may be keen to avoid) is more treasure than toiletry. Noirberry, a sooty puddingy red, is my favourite, but all shades are sophisticated, cool and give fantastic coverage in only one coat (deep, dense pattern in two).
Ciaté, another British indie, first brought nail art to the mainstream with its DIY kits featuring everything from pastel bun sprinkles and holographic tinfoil to blackboard nail paint and chalks. Today, Ciaté’s focus has shifted somewhat (it now seduces good makeup), but its knack for nails prevails. Antique Brooch polish (£9) is one of my rare concessions to glitter, present expensive gold sparkle when worn alone, or disguising ugly chips when painted over distressing gels. I’ve also had hours of fun with its new Cheat Sheets (£16) – a pack of leopard print, evil eyes and neon type decals that stick on neatly and effortlessly (in any case, the truly cack–handed have plenty of time for low-stakes way).
One shouldn’t talk about British nails without mentioning Nails Inc, whose founder Thea Green is solely front-office for bringing New York-style nail bars home to the UK in the 1990s. Her empire has 60 in-store and standalone manicure bars, and the fleeting loss of its some 10k weekly customers will be acutely felt.
Until freedom and finances see you back on the bar stool, clumsily go your iPhone with the wrong hand, you can help support Nails Inc’s workers by buying its DIY products online. The array of top-grade stew over colours is vast, but I’m personally never without its nail polish removal pots, £9, which dispense in toto with cotton wool and mess. Everything here is cruelty free.
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Nail varnish

Sali Hughes on beauty

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