I can’t say why exactly, but I had rather gone off nail polish. For the past year I’ve preferred to keep my nails au naturel – on both hands and feet – using just The Body Shop’s Almond Nail & Cuticle Manicure Oil pen (£8, thebodyshop.com) to keep them moisturised and looking healthy. So when news that the leading session manicurist Ama Quashie was opening her own nail salon (amathesalon.com) and was steering clear of acrylics, I was keen to know more. Based in Brixton, South London, where she and her business partner Latoyah Lovatt grew up, the salon has a community feel – a long bench serves as the mani station to encourage customer interaction, a bit like a communal dining table. As for the menu, the focus is, says Ama, ‘on natural nails; amplifying and making people fall in love with what they were born with’. So there’s a naked nail treatment, for both men and women, to give nails and hands an MOT.
Ama isn’t eschewing colour or polish, of course, but her offering includes brands that are as natural as possible: Kure Bazaar for polish and Artistic for soft gel, both of which are free from harsher ingredients. In her own beauty routine she likes to keep it as ‘clean’ as can be and wanted the same options on offer in her salon.
There are other innovations enticing me back to colour. The recently opened Townhouse nail bar (mytownhouse.co.uk), for instance, which treats nail tools with the same sterilising integrity as a hospital treats its surgical instruments. About time, too – all those jars of goopy disinfectant that nail tools stand in leave me feeling a bit perturbed. I hope that more nail bars follow their lead.
Then Chanel’s new limited-edition Le Vernis Nail Colour in Opulence (right, £22, chanel.com from Friday) turned my head. It’s the shade of gilded chocolate and I love it, almost as much as Nailfix & Chill Nail Polish Eraser Cream (£12.95, thisisbeautymart.com), a nourishing, acetone-free formula in a tube. Simply dab it on, rub it in and wipe off to remove polish with no stinky fumes, dry nails or sofa spillage. This is the nail product of dreams. And, just like that, polish feels fresh again.
Back – and better than ever…
Topshop Beauty has relaunched. Now housed in chic – but any-age-appropriate – black packaging (or rose gold for the Glow Liquid Highlighters, above, £15 each), most products have been given a technology upgrade, but old favourite shades such as the Matte Lipstick in Rio Rio (below left, £10) have returned. I love the new Ultra-Matte Lip Crayons (below right in Comment, £10), which I’m told replaced the lip-to-cheek pots and work as well as anything twice the price. The whole range costs between £5 and £16; topshop.com.
Why titanium tools rule
Meanwhile, new British brand Navy is out to upgrade the make-up tool category – think tweezers and everything for brows and lashes, as well as nail care. They’re elegant gold pieces – not real gold but surgical-grade steel coated in titanium and all made in Sheffield. Why titanium? Because bacteria can’t adhere to its surface and it’s more durable than steel. The tools were designed, says founder and former salon owner Rebecca Crawforth, ‘for the hygiene-conscious consumer and the beauty professional’ and come with a five-year guarantee. I can’t recommend them highly enough. From £26, navyprofessional.com.