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America's Hottest Brands

Shellac Brings Women Back Into Nail Salon With Fail-Proof Formula

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At a time when nail polish is being hailed as the new lipstick and sales of the product are growing faster than those of its recession-indicating predecessor, Vista, Calif.-based CND has revolutionized the market with its chip- and dull-proof Shellac Power Polish.

Jan Arnold

CND (Creative Nail Design) has been around since 1979, but "Shellac has been a rocket for both CND and nail professionals because it has brought more women who didn't find value in paying for basic polish manicures back into the salon," said co-founder and style director Jan Arnold .

It took five years to develop Shellac, which guarantees a perfect manicure for 14 days with zero dry time (UV dryers are used in between the layering of polish coats to instantly dry nails). Upon its launch in May 2010, CND sold out a year's global supply in less than a month (the company does not disclose sales figures). The product has been featured on "The Today Show" and in The New York Times; O, The Oprah Magazine; and Ladies' Home Journal, as well as its share of "best of " lists in beauty magazines.

Credit: John Kuczala

While CND markets to salons and nail professionals rather than consumers, a PR program with RED PR has helped generate media and industry buzz. Notably, a Shellac flash mob, complete with Broadway dancers, took over Times Square during New York Fashion Week in September, and a partnership with Virgin Atlantic made CND's siren-red "Wildfire" Shellac the official nail color for Virgin Atlantic flight attendants, as well as an "upgrade option" for first- and business-class passengers enjoying manicures at the airline's Clubhouse lounges at Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

Ms. Arnold said educating industry professionals about its products has been a big part of CND's winning formula. The company, owned by Revlon in the '90s and now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Barcelona-based Colomer Group, has more than 500 global "education ambassadors" for the 50 countries it distributes in and recently implemented a national CND Shellac Salon Certification Program, which showcases salons that prove they precisely follow corporate protocol for CND Shellac services.

Shellac manicures are offered at more than 17,000 salons worldwide and prices typically range from $25 to $45 and pedicures from $40 to $60, depending on the location. While this may sound like a lot, especially during a downturn, "Nails are appealing to today's modern woman because regardless of dress size or budget, you can always have perfect nails," Ms. Arnold said.

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