The beauty of this current obsession is its ability to update any look instantly, taking you from ho-hum to on-trend (sans outfit change) with the swipe of a bold hue. Nail polish has become an accessory in itself, says Nonie Creme, Founding Creative Director of Butter London, who helps select the nail colours at key fashion shows like Alexander Wang and Vena Cava. “We don’t really consider ourselves nail polish—we think of our company as a fashion accessory company.” And with shade names like All Hail McQueen, Bumster and Yummy Mummy (the first two paying homage to the late Lee McQueen) it’s hard not to see the how important the category has become.

Some of the hottest shades this season revisit the typical dark nature of fall—but in different ways. One of the coziest colours is ‘greige’, (grey plus beige), which made appearances at a bevy of shows, including Thakoon, Fendi, Michael Kors, Jason Wu and Rodarte. The colour—which ranges from mushroom to stone to heathered grey—goes with everything in your wardrobe, says Jan Arnold, co-founder and style director of Creative Nail Design. “It picks up the colour and texture of your favourite cashmere sweater.” To keep the colours muted, cool and understated, the colours have a drop of black added to the formula. “They look so much more modern than a sheer or clear nail.” 

But perhaps more interesting than the trendiest shade is the texture. Creme, who has worked with Alexander Wang for five seasons, says the direction of nails at the young designer’s Fall 2010 show was “very much about finish, like suede.” Creme first custom mixed a base coat, talcum powder and acetone to fulfill Wang’s wish of a matted nail more than three seasons ago, and now mass-market brands are jumping on the bandwagon. Texture aside, depth and layering were also key messages at the fall presentations, but that didn’t necessarily mean glitter. Creme used holographic dust powder and blended with existing shade Yummy Mummy to birth All Hail McQueen, which suddenly gave it a “depth and galactic quality.” If your DIY interest is piqued, Creme suggested layering two different colours “then smooth it around to see the bottom layer peek through.” Or, take a metallic shade and press your finger into the polish while it’s tacky, until it’s “a bit prickly to give it more texture.”

Learn about products that make a manicure last on the next page…


And despite the growth in the nail polish category throughout the last few gloomy financial years (Creme suggests it’s close to 15 per cent), people are still mindful of their purchases, and every woman knows how frustrating a chip or smudge can be after shelling out for a pricey manicure. So it’s perfect timing for Shellac to hit the market. The polish-gel hybrid works like a regular manicure, costs around $35 per application and you get to skip the buffing portion. The polish comes in a regular lacquer bottle and is painted on, then cured under UV light. Post-application, you’re free to rummage in your purse for keys, cash, subway tokens—and you are guaranteed to still have a flawless manicure. There’s no damage to the natural nail, says Arnold. “It wears like a gel but is applied like a nail polish” and promises 14 days of perfect wear. To remove, you’ll need to return to the salon and pay around $10 to soak your nails in an acetone-soaked wrap for removal. It’s also now widely available across Canada, and costs around $20 more than your average manicure.

Also available is OPI’s Axxium, which is applied in a similar way, but with a few extra coats and shades comes out of a pot, instead of a bottle. The recipient of Allure Magazine’s Beauty Breakthrough Award, Axxium offers a boatload of advantages, including the ability to paint over the colour and remove with polish remover without removing the gel base. Also, custom colours can be blended according to each client, which Tips Nail Bar owner, Leeanne Colley, sees as a huge draw. She blended OPI’s You Don’t Know Jacques mixed with Alpine Snow to create a creamy dove grey for Beauty Geeks blogger Janine Falcon. “It’s also great for weak or peeling nails,” says Colley, as the formula provides an extra layer of strength to weaker nails. It costs around $50 and another $10 to remove.

Between new technologies, changing textures and must-have polish shades; it’s hard to imagine now that when Creme started her career at fashion shows backstage nail colour was merely an afterthought. “Nails?’ they’d say to me ‘Oh—I don’t know—pink. Whatever!”

For a complete list of where to get Shellac’d (it’s been rolled out in around 1,500 salons across Canada), visit As of now it’s available in every province except for P.E.I, Nunavut and Yukon Territory.

Read more
Shellac’d: A writer tests it out
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Beauty obsession: Matte nail polish

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