Back in the 1960s and 70s, women strived to keep their fingernails long and saucy with bright ruby enamels, inspired in grand part by film icons like Rita Hayworth and Elizabeth Taylor.
Length was everything, and color was relegated to the habitual red, pinks and corals.
To accommodate the demand for perfectly manicured nails, a string of beauty salons specializing in mani-pedis began to spring up around the world, where the well-appointed lady of the house would go once a week to have her nails filed, de-cuticled and painted.
Then in the 80s, acrylic nails came into vogue, and the requisite visit to the nail salon went from weekly to fortnightly, or in some cases, even less often.
As a rule, acrylic nails cannot be applied at home.
A nail technician mixes a liquid with a powder and brushes the mixture on, usually covering the entire nail.
The product hardens as it is exposed to a special nail chamber with ultraviolet light.
The main problem with acrylics is that they contain potentially toxic chemicals such as resins and formaldehyde and if they begin to peel off, funguses and infections can develop between the acrylic and the natural nail.
Moreover, beauticians have to file the face of the natural nail in order to create a smooth surface to apply the acrylics, and this can be particularly harmful for women who already have thin or brittle nails.
On the up side, however, acrylics are sturdy and, if cared for properly, can last up to two or three weeks (unless a nail breaks, which will require an emergency visit to the salon to replace it).
“Basically, acrylic nails harm your natural nails and can be a nightmare to keep up,” explained Joanna Álvarez, co-owner of La Esmaltaría nail spa in Colonia Jardines de Pedregal, during the salon’s second anniversary celebration and a media presentation of the new Pop Couture collection of Jessica Nails.
“In the end, most women give up on acrylics, although they are still popular with a small segment of Mexican women.”
But Álvarez said that the big news in nail care today is gel nails, which, like acrylics, can last up to two weeks without maintenance, but, unlike acrylics, do not contain harmful chemicals and do not require that the face of the nail be filed away.
Also, unlike acrylic nails, gels are simply painted on like normal nail varnish, and require no filing, bonding or sculpting.
The gels are usually applied in four coats with a short session of hardening in the same type of ultraviolet light chamber as the acrylics between each coat.
“Gel nails actually protect your nails,” added Álvarez’ partner Isa Calva.
“Women used to think that it was healthy to go a few days every couple weeks with no nail polish so that their nails could ‘breathe,’ but we now know that it is best to always were something on your nails, even if it is just a nail-strengthening treatment or clear nail polish. This will keep your nails from breaking.”
No-chip gel manicures (also known as shellac manicures) leave a mirror-smooth shine that does not fade, and that is what most women are looking for in a polish, Calva said.
But gels are not without their detractors or disadvantages.
In order to get a true shellac or gel manicure, you have to go to a salon.
Several cosmetic companies have produced at-home versions of gel polishes, but most women find that they simply do not live up to the same standards as salon gel manicures.
Moreover, gels can be a bit pricey as compared to standard manicures, though that is offset by the fact that they last much longer.
Also, durability comes at a cost when you want to remove the color. It takes time, work and requires that you soak your nails in acetone polish remover for about 10 minutes (just like acrylics).
Finally, there is controversy as to the wisdom of exposing your hands to ultraviolet light for the hardening process.
Most professional salons in Mexico will have the technician apply a coat of sunscreen to your hands before they enter the ultraviolet light chamber so that your skin is not exposed to the potentially harmful rays.
“Gel nails are the biggest boom in the nail industry worldwide,” said Álvarez. “And here in Mexico, they are even more popular in per capita terms than in the United States.”
Álvarez estimated that about 70 percent of Mexican women who have their nails done regularly at a salon now opt for gel nails at least part of the time.
And she said that about 60 percent of adult Mexican women have professional manicures at least once a month.
In fact, according to a study conducted by the International Nail Technicians Association, the nail industry in Mexico is worth more than $6 billion a year.
“Women in Mexico care about their appearances, and with the rise of smartphones, their hands are more visible that ever,” she said. “So having a coat of nail polish on is now a must.”
But Calva pointed out that many of the old rules about professional manicures have gone out with yesterday’s non-digital newspapers.
“Today, women can use virtually any color on their nails, and do,” she said. “And there are all types of textures of nail polishes, including matte and crackled polishes and nail art with creative patterns.”
“Nails today are shorter than in the past, which means that women don’t have to worry so much about them breaking,” Álvarez said.
“Women today see their nails as an accessory and love to explore new styles and ways to
show off their hands.”
Endocare, the Spanish skincare company that uses snail secretions as its basic ingredient to nourish cells and slow the aging process, has introduced a new all-day face cream that both hydrates for up to 24 hours and protects from the sun’s skin-damaging rays with a broad spectrum sunscreen. Suitable for even delicate and sensitive skin, Day Sense SPF 30 comforts and refreshes without leaving a heavy greasy coat. In addition to snail slime, the product contains edelweiss extract, vitamin E, calmosensine, physavie and diffoliporine to smooth out fine lines and give skin more radiance. Day Sense can be used alone or under makeup.
Also from Spain, Cosmeceuticals’ PB Serum, a cosmetic pharmaceutical cell renewal compound that must be applied by a medical technician in either a dermatological clinic or plastic surgeon’s office, is now available in Mexico. The serum, which is forced into the lower dermis through a radio-frequency apparatus, helps to promote the skin’s natural collagen production and produces a visible reduction in superficial wrinkles, sagging and discoloration after just one session. For full benefits, however, the company recommends a minimum of 10 sessions, with special concentration in problem areas such as around the eyes and smile lines.
Textures for All
Dior has relaunched its top-selling Capture Totale Multi-Perfection Crème in three sumptuous textures: Light, for oily or combination skin; Universal, for normal skin; and Riche, for dry or mature skin. Totally revolutionary and unrivaled in its effectiveness, the Capture Totale global age-defying skincare line acts at the level of the deepest youth-preserving cells, promoting collagen production, decreasing sagginess and boosting resilience. Multi-Perfection Crème adds density to the skin, regaining firmness and revitalizing facial contours while plumping, smoothing and illuminating for a more radiant and youthful look.
Revlon’s new Colorstay 2-in-1 Compact Makeup & Concealer comes in 12 expertly matched shades of cream foundation and matching concealer on a flip-up tray for a flawless, longwearing look that glides on perfectly and stays put all day. The smooth, blendable formula offers buildable coverage and a demi-matte finish. The compact also includes a unique applicator conveniently nestled beneath the makeup tray for precise application and a mirror for touch-ups on the go. Shades run the gamut from a soft porcelain ivory to a deep cappuccino to suit every skin tone. There is also an array of Colorstay liquid foundations for more extensive coverage which can be used under the compact makeup.