NEW YORK — The do-it-yourself trend is emerging as one of the biggest opportunities in mass retailing as cash-strapped consumers opt to do more of their grooming routines at home.

This story first appeared in the July 29, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Sales of hair colors are rising thanks to foams; minxlike nails are a hit at drugstores; at-home facial tools are picking up steam, and now, thanks to three major firms, women can get a salon-style gel manicure at home. Gel manicures have become a big business at salons because nail color stays on at least twice the time as a traditional manicure. But prices in the $50-and-up range have shoppers eager to try this service at home.

Three products are available at mass including entries from CCA called Gel Perfect, Pacific World under its Nailene logo and now Innovative Beauty Group.

Ulta has been among the first to jump on Innovative’s launch called Red Carpet Manicure. The retailer confirmed it will have an endcap devoted to it for the fall.

“Gel manicures are proven in salons and we are bringing a quality and convenient product to mass,” said Barry Shields, marketing manager for Innovative Beauty Group. “It provides an affordable and lasting option for consumers.”

He believes one key difference in his offer from the competition is a LED lamp sold with the nail products that sets the color. Red Carpet also features special LED polishes to achieve the long-lasting application. CCA’s version does not require a lamp, while Nailene uses a UV lamp.

According to Shields, Red Carpet Manicure requires three steps: preparation; care and color, and a finish step. There are also special nail care and polish removers in the line. The preparation stage includes using a provided orangewood stick and an emery board followed by a buffer board to prep the nails. The other steps for prepping include a purify and application cleanser and a sanitizer. The care and color step includes the structure base coal gel and use of the LED light to cure the color for 45 seconds. The final step is a post-application cleanser and a cuticle Revitalize Nourishing Oil to renew and moisturize the cuticle and skin. To avoid damage to nails, there is a special remover sold with the kit or as a single item.

According to Shields, there will be 36 shades, including classics and edgy fashion. Prices range from $3.99 for the Prep Max Adhesion Sanitizer to $9.99 for the LED Gel Polish. There are two lights — a portable one for $19.99 and a special version for $49.99. There will be a starter kit with the LED light, prep, base coast, top coat, cuticle oil, cleanser and remover for $79.99. Similar products sold to professionals retail for more than $300.

According to Shields, the products should deliver incremental sales to the burgeoning nail care category since consumers will buy multiple items to achieve the look. “This should appeal to people who have wanted gel manicures and couldn’t afford them and also to people looking for a special look for an occasion such as a wedding.” According to statistics from SymphonyIRI Group, nail is the fastest-growing segment of the mass cosmetics category.

The products also provide healthy gross margins and should drive more shoppers into mass market doors. Innovative Beauty has a strong publicity campaign planned including an educational Web site, social media and in-store tools.

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