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Welcome Matte

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | July 15, 2009

The nail polish market is intentionally losing its luster, as marketers roll out new matte polishes.

Matte finish polish from ManGlaze INK.
Once donned primarily by punk rockers and teens, matte finish nail polishes are going mainstream as companies like Zoya, OPI and Essie roll out their own no-shine shades.

According to Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, OPI executive vice president and artistic director, all-matte nails are “fresh, confident, and very fashion runway.”

This month, the company unveils a line of matte polishes in a half-dozen of the brand’s most in-demand shades—alpine snow (fresh white), Russian navy (deep sea indigo), La Paz-itively Hot (hot pink), You Don’t Know Jacques (taupe); Lincoln Park After Dark (purple) and Gargantuan Green Grape, described as green kissed by the summer sun.

Zoya is also at the ready with MatteVelvet, three limited edition shades designed to appeal to trendsetter looking to go metro-mod, vintage, glam rocker or street chic. The collection, which bows this month, includes Loredana (gunmetal gray), Dovima (black) and Posh (wine), each priced at $6 per bottle.

Essie’s Matte About You Matte Finisher gives any color a matte appearance.
Not to be outdone, Essie has created Matte About You Matte Finisher, which gives any color a matte appearance. The exclusive formula, which debuts in August, makes being trendy more affordable, according to the company.

“Matte About You is the perfect recession buster because you only need one product to get the trend and continue changing your nail color to whatever shade you want,” explained Essie Weingarten, founder and president of Essie Cosmetics. “With the economy this way, consumers should not have to buy several different products. We wanted women to be able to wear the matte trend with any of our colors—so we worked on a formula until it was perfect and made sure it had all the long-wearing durable qualities that all our colors and treatments have.”

Trendy they may be, but matte polishes aren’t new. In fact, well-known brands like Orly and Maybelline offered matte lines several years ago.

“About 10 years ago you saw some matte but the trend never took off,” recalled Ms. Weingarten. “It is a different world in fashion today and even though the trend may not be for everyone, the time is right.”

Just how much staying power the trend has remains to be seen, but polish aficionados are glad that matte is taking another spin in the marketplace.

“It's coming back now, as trends tend to do, and it is a viable trend,” Stephanie Toledo, the blogger behind, told HAPPI.

And if it helps spur sales in the polish market, that’s even better. According to Euromonitor International in Chicago, U.S. retail nail polish sales slid 13.1% between 2003 and 2008.

So who exactly started the revival? Chicago-based ManGlaze contends it is ground zero, having launched its matte, flat finish nail polish in June 2007 at punk festival in Japan.

Edgy ManGlaze INK launched its matte finish polish in June 2007.
“Our stuff still seems to have a very limited appeal. We only made 10 gallons of the first batch so ManGlaze is inherently far from mainstream. There's just not that much to go around. But those 10 gallons seem to have gone to the people who really set the trends because now the ‘big girls’ are copying our [stuff],” said Marc Alexander Paez, founder of ManGlaze INK.

Made in the U.S., the ManGlaze line, which is free of dibutyl phthalate (DBP), formaldehyde and toluene, includes original “Death Tar” black and “Fuggen Ugly” gray shades, each retailing for $6.99 online and at select boutiques.

Premium lines also offer these no shine shades. For example, KnockOut Cosmetics stocks several matte finishes at Henri Bendel and select retailers for $22 per bottle.

While ManGlaze continues to extend its matte palette (it will soon add a clear white matte topcoat and other colors are reportedly in the pipeline), it is working on another project that Mr. Paez contends is “the greatest innovation the nail industry has ever seen.”

While he close-lipped on specifics, he expects a reaction similar to when he launched his matte polishes.

“I’ll guarantee you one thing for certain: just like when we first launched out matte nail polish, the initial reaction will be that it is quite stupid. I can’t say that anyone will change their mind, but for sure they’ll think it’s stupid.”

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