Painting nails Photo: Thinkstock
For more than 3000 years, women have adored painting their nails. Ever since legendary beauty Queen Nefertiti applied that first coat of ruby polish – a colour reserved for Egyptian royalty in her day – nails have been a major fashion statement. Even trendy black nail polish is nothing new; some Chinese noble families used it centuries ago to highlight their hands. And, according to a 2009 Cosmetics and Toiletries report by US market research agency Kline & Company, it’s a passion that’s growing in leaps and bounds. Nail polish has proved to be a big winner during the GFC, trumping lipstick and foundation as the only make-up category to post a double-digit increase in sales.
Australian women like their nails to make a statement, too, says Kate Morris, founder of leading online cosmetics site adorebeauty.com.au. “Women buy nail polishes to match their moods, clothes and beauty budgets. They don’t cost much but they can change and update your fashion look in minutes.”
Charles Revson, the founder of Revlon, laid down the rule that nail polish and lipstick should always match. But that was back in the 1940s and times have well and truly moved on. What’s more important today is that your nail polish should co-ordinate with your entire fashion look, of which lipstick is a small – but important – part. On days when you’re wearing jeans and a tank top, for example, you can wear any nail colour that takes your fancy, in the same way you can liven up this basic look with a pair of riotously coloured shoes that would clash with a more dressed-up outfit. When night falls, though, a few more rules are tossed in the mix, and nail polish should have a close relationship to your dress. Or it can take a cue from your eyeshadow: berry and red colours work magic with on-trend smoky eyes.
Your colouring has a huge impact on your choice of nail polish. The bright tangerine that looks fabulous on R&B artist Rihanna could make a porcelain blonde look like an extra from a vampire flick. Women with pale skin look best in light pastels, sheers, berry shades and rose-tinted pinks. And just as you match your lipstick and foundation to your underlying skin tone – yellow or pink – the same rule applies to your nail polish. Choose berries and pinks with a yellow tone to match the yellow tones in your skin, and go for blue-toned berries and pinks if “English rose” is a common description of your complexion.
Olive and copper/bronze-toned skins team well with more dramatic colours such as orange-red, scarlet and yellow-based browns. Dark skin tones truly shine with red, gold, purple, orange and dark colours, but that’s not to say that fair women should avoid them. After all, it was the famous dance scene in the movie Pulp Fiction, in which Uma Thurman wore Chanel’s ground-breaking Vamp nail polish, that triggered a stampede for the red/black colour.
TRUE TO TYPE
Despite seasonal trend forecasts, there are thousands of nail colours on the market. Other than consumer habit, one of the major factors keeping some colours on top of the sales charts for years is personality type; more conservative women, and anyone who works in an environment where nudes, pastels and sheers are more appropriate, won’t feel comfortable or risk ruining their job prospects wearing a colour called Gangrene or Witch Hunt.
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