Orly is introducing an antidote to the nail damage generated by gel polishes.

Breathable, a treatment and nail lacquer combo, is designed to let air and hydration pass through nails to keep them healthy and strong instead of sealing them off from the outside. Available in 18 colors and a clear option, it’s rolling out next month to Ulta Beauty, J.C. Penney and salons nationwide for $8.99 per bottle.

“This is the biggest innovation launching this year, and it might be the biggest launch for the next two to three years,” said Carina Breda, senior vice president of marketing at Orly, noting that excitement for the launch convinced the brand to move it up from its originally scheduled 2017 release date. “We have a lot of hope for this formula.”

An internal think-tanklike process at Orly during which the marketing team dives into quantitative consumer data and focus group research to inform product development spawned the idea for Breathable. The team noticed a 10 to 12 percent increase in sales of nail treatments despite the nail products category in general slumping, and sensed strong demand for more treatments.

“The market is desperate for treatments,” said Breda. “Gel polish has become the number-one segment, bigger than the nail polish segment these days, but not every nail technician or consumer can remove gel polish perfectly well, so we see a lot of damaged nails. The logical consequence of these damaged nails is consumers looking to get their nails in better shape. We asked ourselves, ‘What can we do for consumers to get their healthy nails back?’”

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Breathable is driven by so-called oxygen technology, argan oil and vitamin B5 and C. It also contains adhesion promoters and shine additives to eliminate the need for base coats and top coats. Orly instructs users to apply two Breathable coats to clean nails. The product will be Halal certified, teeing it up for what Breda believes could be a huge reception in the Middle East. Inglot’s O2M Breathable Nail Enamel has similarly received Halal certification.

Extensive testing of Breathable at Orly netted positive results. The brand had 10 nail technicians paint the formula on the nails of 500 women. Ninety-nine percent of those women reported a detectable difference in the health and appearance of their nails. Half relayed Breathable lasted longer on their nails than traditional nail polish with less peeling and chipping.

Orly set out to make Breathable lightweight and, in the brand’s product testing, nail technicians determined it was easier to apply and control than typical polish, and dried faster. For nail technicians, Breathable also provides opportunities to draw customers to services when those suffering from weak and damaged nails might consider skipping manicures and pedicures to strengthen them.

“This is an ideal product to add to menus for treatments,” said Orly director of communications John Galea. “It’s a great way for nail technicians to tell their clients to take a breather from gels or other services that might be damaging. [Clients] can have their cake and eat it too. They can have a treatment, still get a fashionable color and a great looking manicure.”

The risk for Orly is that Breathable will cannibalize sales of its existing nail treatments. The 41-year-old brand has a long history in the treatment niche of the nail products sector with treatment staples such as the primer base coat Ridge Filler and the rubberized base coat Bonder.

While acknowledging the potential for cannibalization, Breda said Orly’s goal is to avoid customers trading products within its portfolio and nab market share from the competition. She elaborated, “The nail market is experiencing a decline right now. It’s a cyclical market where, when lips are up, nails are down, and when nails are up, lips are down. In maybe another two to three years, we will see it cycle back to nails. We might cannibalize ourselves a little in treatment, but we hope to stop the bleeding in nail polish. There needed to be an intervention.”