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In Their Own Hands

Driven by the pandemic-era shuttering of salons, the influence of social media nail artists, as well as new high-end polishes, at-home manicures have become the epitome of self-care luxury.

“While our customers still cherish the salon experience, they’re now more empowered to take polish and routine maintenance into their own hands,” says Nadine Abramcyk, co-founder and head of brand for the nail-care company Tenoverten. “Our manicure kit has been one of our most popular new sets.”


Nail polish from Tenoverten,allows for salon-level manicures at home
Photo Credit: Tenoverten


Jess Hannah Révész, founder and designer of the nail polish and jewelry purveyor J. Hannah, adds that the tutorials of influencers who are showcasing their over-the-top manicures on Instagram and TikTok are “likely providing people with the confidence to tackle it on their own at home.”

If anything, notes Julie Campbell, general manager of Butter London, a pioneering brand in the creation of luxury nail products formulated without known toxic ingredients, the pandemic has expanded the market. “Women—and men—have discovered that the at-home beauty treatment provides an inexpensive ‘me’ moment,” she says.

The renewed focus on manicures, which is part of a larger wellness trend, has created a wider awareness of the potentially harmful and damaging effects of traditional nail-care products, such as gel and acrylic applications.

“When forced to remove artificial enhancements themselves during the lockdown, women found dry, brittle, weak, and paper-thin nails under the surface,” Campbell says.

“While nail polish can never be completely ‘natural,’” Abramcyk says, “our polishes are cruelty-free, vegan- and 8-free, which means they do not contain dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, or triphenyl phosphate.”

To accommodate the growing demand, the brands have responded with attractively packaged, salon-style kits that are designed to be displayed on the vanity like trophies and that, according to Révész, “make the at-home manicure an elevated, luxurious experience—not a chore or an afterthought.”

Butter London’s Jelly Preserve Strengthening Treatment, according to Campbell, is a “game changer” for those who want to undo the damage done to their nails or treat common nail concerns. The product, which is packed with vitamin E, tea tree oil, hydrolyzed keratin, and the amino acid arginine, coats nails in a translucent tint that conditions, strengthens, and continuously hydrates them.

Two of J. Hannah’s newest collections, collaborations with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, have all but elevated polish to an art form. Inspired by “About Time,” the 2020 exhibit in the New York City museum’s Costume Institute, the first Mini Met collection is a set of five posh polishes: Onyx (black), Cameo (cream), Talisman (silver), Deco (gold), plus a mini bottle of the brand’s signature pearl-hued polish, Akoya.


The Mini Met collection of polishes from J. Hannah is inspired by an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Photo Credit: J. Hannah


“The silver and gold both have a larger foil suspended in a clear base, which provides a more sophisticated feel—sparkles for grown-ups,” Révész says.

The second Mini Met collection, created in connection with the institution’s 2021 “Surrealism Beyond Borders” exhibition, is comprised of three polishes that Révész describes as “Carnelian, a vibrant red, slightly faded as if from memory; Prim, an ode to an unmoored sky; and Enigma, a viscous neutral with a peculiar twist of green that keeps you guessing.”

“All of our classic shades are a tribute to iconic New York City streets, like Canal, Bond, and Church,” says Tenoverten’s Abramcyk. “Our newest addition is Riverside, a beautiful sheer blue.” She adds that “our male customers are big fans of Bond, a classic black.”

It’s clear that the at-home manicure, for men as well as women, is a “practice that’s here to stay,” Abramcyk says.

Campbell’s prediction: “Remote painting parties will really take off.”

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