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Spray Nail Lacquers Poised to Put Nail Color Back in the Black

Spraying on nail color is the latest innovation shaking up the nail care category

The nail-lacquer industry is about to find out if consumers would rather spray than paint. At least four new spray-nail color choices are floating into the market, creating a stir among consumers who can’t wait to get their hands on them.

Entries retailers have seen include Nails inc.’s Paint Can, China Glaze’s Coloured Nail Spray, Milk Studios Milk Makeup Spray and an infomercial option called Spray Perfect.

Some industry experts think the novel application could be just what is needed to revive the dull nail lacquer business. In drugstores alone, nail color sales are down 7 percent to just under $300 million, according to IRI data for the 52-week period ended Feb. 21, 2016. There hasn’t been innovation in nail-color application, buyers said, since the Polish Pen in the Eighties. Although gels gave a lift, they still require traditional brush application.

Nails Inc.’s Paint Can was such a success in the U.K. earlier this year that supplies evaporated almost immediately. American shoppers flocked to the company’s Web site only to find there was a waiting list for what some called “liquid gold.”

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In the next few days, U.S. customers will be able to buy Paint Can at Sephora (Paint Can went live on at the beginning of April).

“Paint Can is the dry shampoo of the nail world,” said Thea Green, the founder of Nails inc., which is credited with being the first to market sprays. “We are always looking for new, innovative ways to speed up nail-polish application, as increasingly our customers are time poor. We have been working on an aerosol format for some time but keen to perfect it, which took us some time.”

Step-by-step instructions, showing how to use the spray, are featured at Sephora and online. The process requires a base coat, then the spray, then a top coat (Nails Inc. uses the same product for both steps) followed by drying and then washing hands in soapy water to remove runoff color.

Currently, Paint Can is available in three hues, Mayfair Lane, Shoreditch Lane and Hoxton Market, retailing in the U.S. for $12 for the color and $8 for the two in one top and base coat.

Green said a full range of shades including red, nude and rose gold will be added in the summer, followed by fall and holiday collections.

Although a novel application form, Green does not see the product as an in-and-out innovation and not something that will erode existing color volume.” It’s a new way to paint your nails, it won’t replace the traditional bottle and brush, but it’s amazing for a lower commitment color change. I use it as a quick color fix, especially over my gels if I get bored of the color as it adheres to any base,” she added.

Marwan Zreik, vice president of marketing at American International Industries, agreed sprays put zest back into the category. “There’s been so much focus on gel and extended wear and it is almost like the fun [was drained out] of the color world,” he said.

He added consumers are responding favorably to American International’s China Glaze Coloured Nail Sprays. “You get good results and it is quick and easy.”

This month, Ulta Beauty and Sally Beauty (which has embarked on a consumer campaign for its once professional only doors) will begin selling China Glaze’s Coloured Nail Sprays in four colors, Magenta Shimmer, Purple Shimmer, Platinum Silver and Bright Blue. “What we’ve done is taken the four shades and blended different micas with iridescent pigments so you can layer,” explained Brooke Johnson, brand manager of China Glaze. “One look is to put one shade on the base and lighter on the tip for an easy ombre.” She added the polish, which retails for $9.99, can be removed with traditional polish remover. China Glaze’s spray also requires a base and top coat step.

Zreik said other retail doors, more colors and new technologies are in the pipeline. “The goal is to get it into the hands of consumers,” he added.

Mass market retailers are keeping tabs of consumer acceptance of the sprays in specialty doors. One buyer said that when women in her office saw a video application of China Glaze Coloured Nail Spray they “went crazy and wanted it right away.”

Milk is currently available at Urban Outfitters retailing for $12 and Spray Perfect is a direct to consumer entry priced at $19.99 for two colors and the base and topcoat. The brand offers seven shades.