This category showed growth during the pandemic, buoyed by the shift to home treatments and increased need for hand hygiene. As we head to 2024, these behaviours will remain, with newness coming from innovation in application and cross-category inspiration borrowed from skin and hair.
A play on the economic term "the lipstick effect", 2020 was dubbed the year of "the nail effect" as extended lockdowns saw consumers turn to at-home products and treatments. Sales for nail care products on Amazon US were up 218% in 2020 compared to the same month in 2019 as people discovered the efficiency, frugality and even joy of DIY treatments. While many are returning to the salon for indulgent treatments, for others, the convenience and low-cost of alternatives continue to appeal, making salon-quality products a must for brands.
Our relationship with touch and being touched has also changed. Hand hygiene will remain embedded in social etiquette well into 2024 and beyond, and soaps and sanitisers were reframed and elevated forever as new beauty essentials. Heading into 2024, hand sanitisers will be repositioned as a tool to enable safe social interactions with new iterations that marry functionality, aesthetics and fun.
As we head from climate emergency to climate urgency, the need for sustainable solutions in all hand and nail products will be imperative, driving innovation in free-from formulas, new solid formats and BYOW products.
In this report, we explore the key consumers and lifestyles shaping the hand and nail category, what this means for product development and where new opportunities are emerging.
Demand for at-home nail products and treatments will continue post-pandemic and a new generation of frugal and newly confident shoppers will invest in products that deliver on efficiency and quality.
The DIY nail category went into overdrive during 2020. In the US, sales in the DIY nails segment were up more than 200% YoY in March and April 2020 (McKinsey), while the first week of lockdown in the UK saw sales of bases and topcoats increase 102% (The NPD Group). While this period offered a welcome nail detox for many, others set out to replicate salon treatments in the home, driving major demand for salon-quality products. Google searches for “nail dehydrator” – the step used after priming in acrylic treatments – more than doubled in the UK in May 2020 compared to the year prior.
Professional finish and application are top priorities in home nail applications and consumers will prioritise products and tools that deliver on both. Sally Hansen’s No More Stains Spray-On Base Coat instantly smooths out nails and fills out ridges to allow for mess-free application, while Essie’s Quick-E Nail Polish Drying Drops reduce drying time to avoid smudges, dents and scratches. Launched in June 2020 in the US, Olive & June’s Pedi System is a footrest tool that props the foot up and splits the toes out to allow professional application.
With many salon-grade products only available for purchase through professional e-com sites by accredited practitioners, new innovations in free-from nail formulations are emerging. IKON.IQ Nails’ hypoallergenic nail collection is bioengineered with lower-strength HEMAs and HPMAs, making it safer for home use while still delivering a high-grade finish.
How to action this: the joy of frugality will see many continue to choose at-home nail products. As people upgrade their skills and confidence, include more complex base and top products and tools into nail varnish kits, such as primers and dehydrators. Support these with easy tutorials and how-tos, and provide platforms for sharing of results.
Tech-ceptance will be in full swing by 2024 and beauty consumers will be comfortable with and find value in nail tech products. Nail-painting robots, such as Nimble and Clockwork, will provide ‘snacking’ opportunities for time-strapped consumers and be an essential part of beauty tools.