Nailing the new trend

Last updated 05:00 15/06/2014

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Make-up. Wardrobe. Manicure.

Television characters are the latest converts to the biggest beauty trend in years: coloured nail polish.

From Scandal's Olivia Pope, whose (fictionally) "busy life" as the mistress of the United States president dictates she wears a custom-blended shellac in CND's Cocoa and Romantique, to the bright yellow and blue hues worn by Arrow's resident tech-babe Felicity Smoak, coloured polish is now a required part of a character's look.

Local make-up artists confirm it's an increasing wardrobe consideration.

Rebecca Elliott, head of make-up for Shortland Street, said 10 years ago, "there was definitely less focus on it. It was a forgotten area - but you can have fun with it, because it can be part of creating a character's look. It's an extension really of their hair, their make-up, their costume . . . It's quite a good tool for the make-up department to enhance a character's look or feel".

She says the hospital soap has some limitations. "In real life, nurses aren't really allowed to wear nail polish but characters like our receptionists do."

This week, Amelia Reid, who plays Bella on the show's front desk, is sporting an almost nude nail, but she's previously worn hot pinks and oranges.

"I actually end up painting them myself while I'm in the make-up chair," says Reid. "It's very glamorous!"

Nail polish was a must for actor Nicole Whippy's hard-nosed and high-maintenance character on Nothing Trivial. Stefan Knight, who headed make-up for the series' upcoming tele-feature says he brought in a specialist to assist.

"Nicole is very hard on her nails for some reason. We'd have to paint them almost every day. So we tried the gel polish and it worked brilliantly."

Knight says it's no surprise fictional television women are painting their nails like never before.

"For the last five or six years, [real-life] manicure salons have been popping up and fashionable women have been definitely making that part of their regime. We need to reflect that in the characterisations."

Coloured nails featured regularly on the recently screened Step Dave, but Kimberley Crossman's character Stacey took the look to the next level.

Kevin Dufty, head of make-up, said Crossman used her real-life nail artist to create her on-screen look.

"Her character was basically a little Barbie - beautiful, blonde, showing a lot of booty - the nail colours that are out now are amazing, but Kimberley was really that next step.

"They were coloured, sprayed with designs, they had glitter put on them. It was amazing for the character - but your average Kiwi girl probably wouldn't go down that line."

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Nail products have been the beauty industry's biggest growth area in recent years, with the likes of the US reporting 20 per cent lifts in 2011 and 2012.

While sales there appear to have peaked last year, in this country, even supermarkets are on the bandwagon with Countdown just launching its own $11 enamel.

- Sunday Star Times

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