NEW YORK — These days nail treatments solve everything from brittle nails to bacteria-infected nail beds. But can they help retailers, who are suffering from eroding sales in the artificial nail and nail polish segments, to offset a dipping top line?

Be it an established brand vying for incremental space, or a newcomer hoping to elbow its way onto the wall, vendors anticipate retailers will continue to dedicate more space to nail treatment lines at the expense of underperforming segments come spring. According to Information Resources Inc., nail sales fell 5 percent to $573.5 million for the 52 weeks ended July 11, excluding Wal-Mart.

Sally Hansen, the stalwart sales leader in nail treatment, dominates the category with more than 50 percent dollar market share. The company, which on July 2 was bought by DLI Holding Corp., is extending its nail treatment line, Beyond Perfect, into a complete benefit-driven spa collection for the entire body in November. Within that is the addition of the Beyond Perfect Spa Pedicure, a line that aims to replicate luxury spa treatments at home. Products in the line — Radiant Glow Foot Scrub, 18-Hour Dry Skin Foot Crème and Extra Strength Callus Remover Gel and Luxurious Foot and Leg Mask — are infused with marine and orchid extracts. Each of the four products will be available this November for a suggested retail price of $7.50.

Sally Hansen will continue to mix treatment with polish with the launch of Diamond Strength No Chip Nail Color, a waterproof formula that contains diamond particles and biomarine protein to build nail structure and promote growth. This November, Diamond Strength will be available in 24 shades for a suggested retail price of $4.50. The brand, which will also add a lip product to the Diamond line, aims to create different departments, such as Beyond Perfect and Diamonds, within its nail care assortment.

Pacific World Corp., maker of Nailene artificial nails, jumped into the treatment segment last spring with Crystal Hard, a nail hardener that contains iron, keratin and zinc, and Nutri Strength, a nail strengthener with titanium, calcium and biotin. Nailene plans to expand its treatment business with a significant offering in 2005, said Joel Carden, senior vice president of sales and category management for Pacific World. Carden added that while fashion trends that drive growth in nail polish and artificial nails are cyclical, an aging population will continue to fuel treatment sales.The recently restaged Jonel brand, owned by Markwins International, is now getting serious about treatments and nail health. Jonel will expand its Salon Collection line of treatments this December with Revitalize It Cooling Nail and Cuticle Treatment for $1.99, a nongreasy serum that imparts a tingling sensation on nails.

Jessica, a name made famous by its salon in Beverly Hills, continues to gain retail space for treatment. The brand, which entered the mass channel three years ago, is readying to introduce several new treatment products in early 2005, such as Bend Don’t Break, a new nail strengthener that also encourages flexibility for $6.99, and Unbreakable, a nail coating that mimics the effect of artificial nails for $6.95.

SOS Cosmetics, a relative newcomer to the category, aims to carve out its space in a saturated category with three treatment products, namely SOS Complete All In One nail care, a nail gloss that acts as a base coat, top coat, strengthener, growth stimulant and conditioner; Bleach Nail Whitening Stain Remover, a whitening treatment that removes yellow and nail discoloration commonly caused by smoking and self-tanning lotions, and Cuticléss Instant Cuticle Remover, a polish formulated with vanilla and vitamin E to smooth and condition cuticles. All three products carry a suggested retail price of $5.99.

In January, SOS will add two more cuticle serums to the line called Theracutic. To help introduce the brand, SOS has recruited a spokesperson, Carla Kay, manicurist to stars such as Britney Spears and Pamela Anderson.

SOS’ striped packaging, which is reminiscent of a candy striper uniform, was designed to call attention to SOS’ nail- help theme. Women’s current preference for bare, natural- looking nails continues to fortify the treatment trend, said Mark Dorfman, president of SOS Cosmetics.

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