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Nail Polish Business Booms In Weak Economy

While many U.S. businesses are suffering in the weak economy, one industry has been picking up speed. Women are now spending more money on their nails. They are getting more daring - straying from the basic shades of red and painting blues, greens and even animal prints on their nails. Those in the business of nails and nail color are profiting from the trend.

In a factory north of Los Angeles, glass bottles are filled, boxed and then shipped to more than 100 countries around the world. This is the home of OPI, a company that produces nail polish for women from the United States to Asia, from the Middle East to Latin America.

Suzi Weiss-Fishmann is executive vice-president and artistic director. She says women are getting more adventurous with their nails.

“You can really be kind of that conservative professional and wear blues and greens and any color and dark shades year round," she said.

Many women in the U.S. are experimenting with nail art.

“I was blown away by the nail art that I saw. I couldn’t believe it," said customer Judy Gabor.

Judy Gabor plans on getting glitter on her nails at Marie Nails, a salon where many nail artists are trained in Japan. Marie Ueno has salons in Japan and the U.S. She says nail art has been popular in Japan for a decade. It became trendy in the U.S. over the last few years.

“American people like impact, impact design," she said.

Impact design is the specialty of The Naja. She creates 3-D nails using unconventional objects, like hair extensions, paper clips and even staples. The Naja has decorated the nails of stars like Lady Gaga. She says celebrities made nail art mainstream.

“Nail art is really for every woman. It’s like the new lipstick. Everyone is using their nails as their accessory," said The Naja.

The obsession with decorated nails has become big business.

“I actually have made more money than I ever have the entire time of the recession," she said.

Business is also booming at OPI.

“It’s tremendous. I mean our sales have been double digit growth for the past five years," said Suzi Weiss-Fishmann.

Many consumers say when money is tight, it's much easier to spend $5 to $10 on nail polish than on something more expensive.

“If you’re trying to get a new outfit or a new accessory or something, it’s probably going to be more expensive but you can just spice up your look with the nail polish thing, with these things, for a way cheaper price," said Kathryn O’Sullivan.

Kathryn O’Sullivan and her friend Samantha Berendt are college students. They decorate their nails at home with a variety of inexpensive colors and do-it-yourself nail art sold at stores.

“More and more people are doing it. I like it. I think it’s more fun," said Berendt.

Industry experts say nail laquer is the fastest growing product in cosmetics because it's an affordable indulgence when times are tough.