It's been a long time coming, but beauty brands are waking up to the fact that a "nude" shade don't just mean one that matches white skin.
Nude has long been a misnomer on the beauty counter - when girls would pick up a brand's sole shade of lipstick or polish, and if their skin wasn't an exact match for American tan tights, the colour would be anything but.
But the one-shade nude nail is to be no more, thanks to a crop of nude polishes that aim to actually match the wearer’s skin tone, all launching next month.
butter LONDON were the first brand we noticed trying to transform nude nail colours, with their Starkers collection. Acknowledging that “the perfect nude does not yet exist”, their three colour collection ranges from a light crème to a warm tan that promises to work with every skin tone.
ABOVE: butter LONDON's Starkers collection, from £12, butterlondon.com from March
BELOW: Revlon Mannequin hands collection, £7.99 from BeautyMART from March
Revlon’s Mannequin Hands collection has an ever wider range of nude shades, from pale porcelain, to Mocha, and promises a gel-like effect with no chipping. Whilst Estee Lauder’s French Nudes collection has five different lacqers designed for the perfect “monochromatic manicure”.
The emphasis on nail colours as an enhancing product (rather than simply making a statement) is a strong theme that unites all the collections. butter LONDON call theirs “tinted moisturiser for the nail”, and Katie Hughes, butter’s Global Colour Ambassador commented that a nude polish should make your fingers look longer “like a pair of nude shoes elongates your legs”.
Tom Pecheux, Creative Makeup Director at Estée Lauder agrees that his French Nudes are “like foundation for nails… I chose these shades to suit every type of woman – her skintone, her personality, her point of view”.
ABOVE: Estée Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer French Nudes Collection, £14.50, available from March 2013 at Estee Lauder counters nationwide
And this redefining of nude shades is not limited to the beauty world. Premium leg wear brand Falke are also bringing out multi-tonal nude tights in their Perfect Skin Colour collection, with shades matching a range of skin tones from pale to dark.
ABOVE: Falke's Perfect Skin Colour Collection, available now, falke.com
Each shade has been carefully created with a dermatologist to ensure a natural match, and again these tights are being compared with foundation, with Falke describing derniers ranging from “barely there foundation” or a more “complex natural cover”.
So why the switch to more inclusive nail shades? Perhaps it’s the sudden spotlight on the nude nail - after seasons of outlandish nail art, nude was one of the biggest beauty trends to emerge backstage at the Spring/Summer shows. But it's also a mark of the wider move by many beauty brands to make their products accessible to those of all skin colours - an issue highlighted by our beauty assistant Anita Bhagwandas in her piece The Changing Face of Beauty.
Whatever the reason, it means that a lot more women are going to be able to benefit from the ‘elongating’ effect and sophisticated finish of the new foundation for nails - and not a moment too soon.