Vitamins you can('t) eat.
Thea Green MBE, founder of UK-based global beauty brands Nails.INC and INC.redible Cosmetics, My Mood and Holler & Glow, may say nail polish shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but she offsets this with industry gravitas and forward-thinking entrepreneurialism via plant power and unmatched “free of” formulations that compellingly proposition the consumer on not only what goes into their body, but also what goes on it.
It is a small gesture showing that—if Nails.INC’s market studies are any indication—increasing consumers (driven by COVID towards self-care) are rethinking splurges, “necessary” outings and are taking their health less for granted.
Katrina Kufer takes a look at how Nails.INC is working at revolutionizing the nail care industry with its 21-free, plant-based, cruelty-free and halal products—and it’s coming to the Gulf in 2022.
Established in 1999, Nails.INC’s innovation engages “feel good” factors through its Plant Power initiative and free of ingredients lists ranging from 11 to 21 items, setting itself apart from other brands that top out at 11-free. While competitors have tapped into similar formulations and concepts, Nails.INC operates with an unmatched powerful ‘free of,’ ‘halal’ and ‘plant-based’ trifecta. It also has disarmingly long-lasting wear. “It’s a huge part of our business now—it’s the 21-free, vegan, 73% plant-based, cruelty-free and HCS halal-certified polish,” explains Green. “Traditionally plant-based products tend to make you feel good but truly the quality isn’t as good. That’s not the case with Plant Power! It’s really lovely to launch something that’s clean and green so it’s kinder on the planet, but also on your nails.”
A glamorous but typically toxic product—think yellowed, broken tips or questionable warnings during pregnancy—nail polish adopts a counterintuitive reality through brands such as Nails.INC, that propose that a traditionally aesthetic and morale-boosting indulgence could be “good” for us physically. Nails.INC’s superfood base coat reads much like a health food checklist: kale, rich in iron and calcium to harden keratin; vitamins A, C and K to prevent splitting; and aloe vera, lemon, ginseng, pomegranate and grape to nourish, brighten and smooth texture. This is presented in Venetian glass bottles with compostable, sustainable eco-friendly 100% FSC wooden caps, which ergonomically double as a rest for your finger during application. The topcoat—80% plant-based—even uses the sun’s rays to cure the manicure instead of necessitating a bacteria-harboring air dryer. It is a persuasive, smart product that if not for its number one position in the UK market, would seem entirely made-up in its uncanny embodiment of the current zeitgeist.
The bio-sourced formulation (where the remaining percentage is made from Green chemistry) has not been overlooked. “I’m really proud that we are a brand that other brands copy because it means that the nail market is thriving,” remarks Green, winner of the 2010 Entrepreneurial Woman of the Future award. “It drives the business further and gets the message out there faster. It means that other brands launch plant-based products so the nail market can only get cleaner! It can only be a good thing.”
Being halal is another facet of Nails.INC’s consideration of the broader public. Competitors such as Polish-brand Inglot, UAE-based 786 Cosmetics, British Illamasqua or French-born Nailstation—all available in the UAE—manufacture either halal, referring to the raw products and processing methods being in accordance with Islamic law, or breathable polish that does not interfere with performing ablutions (wuduh) before prayer. This porousness is also what allows for longer wear—the oil buildup trapped on nails underneath traditional non permeable lacquer contributes to chips. The rise of halal polish suggests the future will see more brands consciously seeking to merge practicality and aesthetics with diverse lifestyle needs and the purchasing power of previously uncatered-to consumers.
Green also outlines the surprising benefits of coronavirus, which saw a surge in sales. “COVID was definitely a wake-up call and an interesting research piece for us as a brand,” she says. “Everything in lockdown was about those little moments of making yourself feel good.” With Nails.INC’s nail colorr developing alongside gels and embracing similar technologies that gels do, thereby increasing longevity, this translated into a larger and repeat customer base. “We’ve got a lot of converts who were big fans of acrylics or gels who were forced to paint their own nails over this time who actually really enjoyed it, found it easier and won’t go back now,” adds Green.
With room within the holistic nail care-meets-wellness field, she affirms a growing need for natural practices as an evolution, rather than shift from, luxury indulgences. “That’s a big part of our focus for Nails.INC’s sister brand, INC.redible. Wellness and self-care is the sweet spot for this brand and the products we create, from our bestselling Party Recharge under-eye masks to crystal-powered lip glosses,” notes Green. “All feeding into that idea of little moments of self-care—like beauty snacking.”
Kale. Who knew it wasn’t just for eating?
Consumers can expect Nails.INC, INC.redible and Holler & Glow products to be available at key Gulf retailers in the first half of 2022.
About The Editor
Katrina – arts, culture and lifestyle writer and editor (BFA Fine Arts, Parsons the New School for Design; MA Contemporary Art, Sotheby’s Institute of Art) – has lived in 16 countries and written for a multitude of prestigious publications in the MENA region. Based in Dubai, Kufer is interested in observing new environments and exploring cross and inter-cultural connections.