By  on May 10, 2013

On a recent sunny afternoon in New York City, the Nail Studio in Sephora’s Columbus Circle store was buzzing. Shoppers explored a five-tier display stocked with kits from Ciaté, glitter lacquers from Nails Inc., mattes from Butter London and chic classics from Dior. Across the way stood four stations equipped with step-by-step nail-art video tutorials, an array of polishes and remover—all waiting for customers eager to try out the latest look. One woman was doing her best to emulate the geometric nail art shown on screen and two teenagers were swapping tips.

If these shoppers are any indication, the booming nail category shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, not since lip gloss in 2004 has the market seen such rapid, exponential growth. SymphonyIRI reports mass-market nail sales were up 10 percent in 2010, 19 percent in 2011, 18 percent in 2012 and more than 15 percent in the last 52 weeks, with an approximate volume of $1.2 billion, not including Wal-Mart. In the prestige category, sales rose 42 percent in 2012, for a volume of about $37 million. The top five mass-market brands are Sally Hansen, Kiss, Essie, Revlon and Sinful Colors; in the prestige market, the leaders are Chanel, Dior, Deborah Lippmann, Butter London and MAC.

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