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Critical Mass: Gel Manicures Paint Rosy Sales Picture

Retailers say this category is the catalyst behind double-digit gains in nail care, as reported by The NPD Group.

Tips & Tricks kit from Red Carpet Manicure.

NEW YORK — At-home gel manicure kits are emerging as the brightest category in the mass market, as women find they are adept at creating salon looks for much less.

While this segment is not broken out separately, retailers say it’s the catalyst behind double-digit gains in nail care, as reported by The NPD Group.

Not surprisingly, earlier this month gel manicure products garnered lots of attention at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Marketplace meeting in Denver, the final installment of the annual gathering in its current form. A new show called Total Store Expo, slated for August 2013 in Las Vegas, will combine three NACDS meetings — namely Marketplace, the Pharmacy and Technology Conference and the Supply Chain & Logistics Conference.

One of the early entries into at-home gel manicures, Red Carpet Manicure, kept its momentum going with fresh products that made their debut at the show. “We were the first brand on the market, and our retail partners are extremely happy with [our] product launches,” said Barry Shields, a founder of Red Carpet.

The latest introductions are Limited Edition Nail Art Kits, including Tips & Tricks, French Manicure and Gems & Jewels. Tips & Tricks features products to create fades, dots and marbleizing. The French Manicure kit includes tools to create a refined French look. Gems & Jewels has crystallized gems, jewels and glitter. Also new is a Neon collection, reflecting the consumer interest in shocking brights this summer. “Neons are proving to be one of the hottest nail trends,” said celebrity manicurist Gina Eppolito. “It’s great that Red Carpet Manicure is able to adapt runway trends into their line quickly for consumers.”

Shields added that a new gel polish remover kit is being raced to market to improve the removal of the gel nails.

To help teach at-home users how to apply gel nails, the new Red Carpet products have QR codes on packaging that direct users to a video on the company’s Web site.

Red Carpet is currently sold in Ulta, Duane Reade, Fred Meyer and Meijer. The line is also available in 17 countries. The kits have a suggested retail of $29.99 each with the individual bottles of color polish available for $9.99.

“This is really incremental business,” said Shields, noting that the kits attract new customers.

Red Carpet isn’t the only at-home offer. Sephora by OPI offers an option; Kiss is launching one called Kiss Ever-Lasting, which adds a gel-like appearance to its artificial nails; QVC has a huge hit with gel nails by Mally Roncal, and SensatioNail is the brand also gathering steam from Pacific World.