This is not to mention the impossible beauty standards set by photoshopped billboards and magazine shoots that ordinary people feel they have to live up to.
It is no surprise that cosmetics are more popular than ever, with the global cosmetic market estimated to reach US$675 billion by 2020.
This growth comes with constant changes in market regulations including new product registrations and ingredient restrictions – keeping track is a daunting task for both big and small brands.
A large proportion of this market is taken up by nail products, which have come on a long way since their origins in Ancient Babylon. Thanks to makeup artist Michelle Menard, inspired by the new innovations in automobile paint in 1920, we no longer need to embellish our fingers with henna, egg whites or gelatin. Instead, we have widespread access to an enormous range of glossy paints, and more recently spray paint nail polish, four-week gel manicures and ready-decorated nail wraps.
$8.51 billion was spent in salons alone in 2015. In a 2015 study, nail professionals were asked about their biggest challenges - the greatest business challenge was voted “building and retaining clientele” and the number one technical spot was taken up by “Staying current on trends and products”.
The first point relies on consistently high product quality and the second on ensuring new products are up to the standard expected of the brand.
Why is the nail industry growing so rapidly?
There are a number of powerful factors. Many people have taken up nail technician qualifications in hope of a second income in a difficult economy. Social media has also pushed the trend, encouraging nail decoration as it has become extremely popular to share photos of nail art.
Perhaps most importantly, however, nail care is no longer restricted to grooming. Standing out from the crowd is now paramount, bringing with it a wealth of nail art options and new exciting colours and effects, with the possibility of sending off for nail wraps printed with a design or photo of your own or have an image directly printed onto your fingernails using a printer not unlike the traditional laserjet. Growth is driven by these new nail technology products, most significantly gel polish, which has been a massive hit with salons and consumers alike.
Salons are attracted by a quick and easy application, consumers by excellent durability of up to four weeks that is not possible with ordinary polish. The drive has until now pushed consumers into salons or to buy their own UV setting lamps for home use, but gel polishes are becoming available that do not require a UV lamp, offering a good compromise between salon gel services and traditional at-home polish, lasting around seven days.
To keep up with this rapidly changing and crowded market, nail product manufacturers are looking for reliable ways of quantifying the properties of their new products to keep up with the explosion of novel trends, comparing them to the old popular products, or simply keeping brand quality consistent to fight off the competition.
Nail product quality and appeal is put to the critical test of the consumer. Appearance is of utmost importance, with durability and ease and texture of application also essential. These properties must be analysed accurately and consistently by nail product manufacturers, simultaneously studying the optimum formulation and manufacturing methods to achieve the best results while keeping ingredient and manufacturing costs as low as possible.
“Free-from” products have their own struggle. Some consumers are worried about the presence of harsh solvents on their nails and the worry that they are causing damage, or the effects on environment, while still looking for top quality and to keep up with the latest trends.
Now some companies are looking at water based polishes. Without acetone and similar solvents to carry heavy polymers and to evaporate quickly for a speedy drying time, high quality is an even greater challenge than before. This has been picked up by the premium end of the market and brands such as The Body Shop and Zoya are becoming more active in natural nail colour with products that promote a message of skin and nail health and natural ingredients.
Challenges in testing: Nail Product Assessment Methods
Stable Micro Systems has developed a range of tests to meet these needs, quantifying the textural or physical properties of both wet and dry polish, nail wraps and self-adhesive nails. These employ the Texture Analyser and can be customised to cover nail products at any stage of the production process to assess the optimum parameters required for a perfect end product.
Traditional ASTM or ISO methodology is difficult to apply to nail products as there are limitations on sample preparation and test methods. Instead, custom innovative tests must be developed to closely imitate the use and application of nail products, and put properties to the test in this way.
We can design and manufacture probes or fixtures for the TA.XTplus texture analyser that are bespoke to your sample and its specific measurement.
Once your measurement is performed, our expertise in its graphical interpretation is unparalleled. Not only can we develop the most suitable and accurate method for the testing of your sample, but we can also prepare analysis procedures that obtain the desired parameters from your curve and drop them into a spreadsheet or report designed around your requirements.
The TA.XTplus texture analyser is part of a family of texture analysis instruments and equipment from Stable Micro Systems. An extensive portfolio of specialist attachments is available to measure and analyse the textural properties of a huge range of food products. Our technical experts can also custom design instrument fixtures according to individual specifications.
No-one understands texture analysis like we do!
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