The nail category lived up to its red-hot image Thursday when The NPD Group Inc. issued makeup sales figures for the year to date through October from U.S. department stores.

This story first appeared in the December 2, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

According to the figures, total nail sales were up 59 percent for the first 10 months of this year. All other color categories were up 10 percent. All sets were up 9 percent. Total lip business was up 8 percent and total face products was up 7 percent.

Prestige makeup sales added up to $2.8 million for the 10-month period, a gain of 8 percent in dollars, while units increased by 5 percent to almost 117 million pieces sold.

In the face color segment, the hottest categories were concealers and foundations. Eye products showed a sharp sales improvement in eye shadow, eyebrows and mascara. Eye shadow palette sales showed strength, cashing in on this season’s trend of dramatic eyes. Eye shadow palettes featuring five or more colors bounded ahead with dollar gains in the triple digits; quad palettes generated gains in the double-digits.

Lip color siphoned strength and dollars from lip gloss and lip liner. The latter two segments each declined by 1 percent. The entire lip category gained 8 percent, but that advance was overshadowed by the lip color subsegment, which generated a 12 percent sales jump.

But nail was the big winner by zooming ahead with a more than 50 percent in dollars for both nail enamel and the top/base coats categories.