Kenyan women have ditched the traditional pastel nail polishes, forcing manicurists to perfect their artistic skills as mirrored metallic or marbleised become trendy. New treatments for hands and feet have entered the market from 3D nail art to paraffin wax treatments.
Farzana Essani, the owner of Ombre Nail Spa in Mombasa says she is forced to import a US nail polish brand, NCLA, used by celebrities such Beyoncé and Mary J Blige.
“The nail market is big and trends are changing fast with Kenyan women wanting to be wowed with artworks and even jewellery stuck on the nails,’’ she says.
Paraffin wax treatment is among the latest therapies which heals dry and cracked hands and feet, helps increase blood flow and reduces joint stiffness.
“Paraffin wax treatment goes well with a hot stone massage. This is not your normal massage where hot stones are placed on the back, these are placed either on the hand or feet,” Ms Essani said.
Marbling, nail wraps, drawn-ins, and unicorn nails are among the few of the trends that African women are crazy about. In Kenya, the most expensive manicure is about Sh10,000 and it involves having a mermaid look on the nail.
For example, the unicorn and 3D designs need a skilled manicurist who can sculpt a nail.
“It may look like acrylic, but it is a real nail. And that is what we always try to bring out,” she says.
A 3D design is usually enhanced with holographic tint. A good manicurist will always tell you that sometimes you need to give their nails some rest from all the polish and gel applications and use wraps instead.
Ms Essani gets her nail wraps from the California-based company NCLA, which come with a base and top coat.
"The wraps are artistically designed with different themes. They are good alternatives for women whose nails have become weak because of over-application of gels."