What do you want from your nail varnish? For it to be bright and glossy? Long-lasting? Quick-drying? How about if it was all that AND anti-ageing? Or if it was loaded with as many nutrients as your hangover green juice?
The next generation of lacquers offer more than just a nice coat of colour. With formulae laced with vitamins, proteins, minerals and micro-powders, these power-packed polishes promise to hydrate, protect and promote stronger, healthier nails.
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Nails Inc is one brand at the forefront of polish with purpose. Its superfood nail range includes varnishes infused with kale extract to strengthen; boosted with green tea, acai and spirulina to repair and stimulate growth; and enriched with Matcha powder for “nail wellness” (ie, shiny, happy talons).
Its latest launch blends super-bright, gel-effect polishes with a splash of hydrating coconut water for a healthy alternative for two-week-manicure junkies.
Fans of Margaret Dabbs and her miracle medical pedicures will also be pleased to hear that London’s best-known podiatrist has introduced a line of polishes to her range of award-winning skin products. And in keeping with the brand’s DNA, the collection offers a science-led philosophy without sacrificing its luxury appeal.
“Everything we do is about health and well-being,” says Dabbs. “I decided to develop a range of nail polishes that would give excellent coverage, offer a wide selection of colours in fabulous packaging, all while being beneficial to the nails.” Each of the 72 shades available has been specially formulated to put nail health first, enriched with vitamin E to hydrate and protect and wild rose botanicals to revitalise and prevent infection (as well as leaving nails with a long-lasting floral scent).
Margaret Dabbs nail polishes
“Nails benefit from having the infusion of added vitamins and nutrients in the same way our skin does,” adds Dabbs. “It is all about nourishment. Nails are part of the skin, after all, and are made up of keratin skin cells. They are permeable and contain water, which is why it is important to nourish and protect them, just as we would the rest of the body.”
So if you’re the type never to be without an immaculately lacquered nail, breathable formulas are a must. South Kensington-based salon Nailberry is a trailblazer in this technology. Following years of treating clients with dry, damaged nails, founder and organic beauty buff Sonia Hully launched L’Oxygéné — a collection of breathable, chemical-free polishes that allow water and air to pass through so nails are protected, not suffocated.
As for anti-ageing nail polish, it’s not just a pipe dream — Deborah Lippmann’s innovative Turn Back Time formula contains biotin, green tea and light-diffusing, diamond micro-powder to reverse yellowing and restore a youthful lustre.
Or for a complete overhaul, Sally Hansen — the brand that brought us the Diamond Strength nail-hardener and the Insta-dri top coat — has launched the Complete Salon Manicure.
Each of the 56 shades contains tiny spheres of sea minerals, pearl protein and marine kelp to strength and moisturise, along with seven kind-to-nail benefits — from a built-in base coat to growth-boosting nutrients — in one bottle. Handy.