Shopping around: What’s new with nail polish

The new Sea Spa Salon retail space, left, and the Butter nail polish selection at Katydid. — Photos by Gwyn McAllister

Riddle: What can go naked all winter but, with the days getting warm, should wear a coat? Answer: Toenails. This time of year, as we expose more and more of ourselves to public scrutiny, things like pasty skin, a few extra pounds, and a couple of leg hairs can be forgiven, but one easy, painless, safe way (as opposed to tanning, dieting, or waxing) to feel ready for summer is to add some color to your nails — both fingers and toes.

Most Vineyard salons that offer nail service also sell a line or two of nail varnishes and, of course, you can always find a range of brand-name colors at the Island pharmacies, but I’ve discovered a few other places on Island — somewhere one might not expect to find makeup — that are now carrying some of the less commonly available lines of polish.

A nice surprise for me was to find Butter London brand polish ($15) on display among the quilt of preppy, patterned, and sleek summer clothing at Katydid. Butter London is a rather high-end brand of nail lacquer that does not have formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, phthalates, or parabens. It comes in cool looking square bottles in lots of colors that are very of-the-moment. Katydid, on Main Street in Edgartown, also carries Butter lipstick and lipgloss, which I didn’t even know existed until I saw them on display there. Also, the boutique stocks a product called Patent-Gel Top & Tails Set which, according to the Butter website, “is a revolutionary duo that puts patent-leather shine at your fingertips, without harsh chemicals or UV lamps. The healthy alternative to gel manicures!” I’m not convinced that it will replace a gel job, but, at $40, I’m willing to give it a try.

It was also news to me that Crabtree & Evelyn offered nail polish, but it’s the 40-year-old company’s newest venture, and Secret Garden in Oak Bluffs has a rack. At $6 it’s a great option for grabbing a new color while checking out all the pretty gift items at the store, including a huge selection of Vera Bradley bags, gift books, candles, jewelry, and so much more.

By the way, I just found out that the Crabtree & Evelyn brand was named for English botanist John Evelyn and a tree that is commonly used in home apothecary. Who knew? I always thought the name was one of those quirky, cryptic Britticisms like Elephant and Castle or Goat and Compasses. Anyway, for fans of the brand, Secret Garden carries a wide range of Crabtree & Evelyn’s affordable lotions, fragrances, and bath and body products.

Just this past January, Sea Spa Salon in Edgartown opened a retail store in Nevin Square. There you can find all kinds of beauty essentials, including hair products and accessories, skin care (from Decleor Paris, Image and Farmhouse Fresh), organic sun care from Coola, and a fun line of makeup called Rouge Bunny Rouge, which the staff swears by.

Of course, there’s also a wide range of nail polishes. Among the brands that Sea Spa carries are Essie ($8.50), vegan brand SpaRitual ($12), and Vinylux ($15). The latter, from company Creative Nail Design (CND) is a polish that lasts for a week and requires no base coat. According to their website “Exposure to natural light secures the patent-pending technology, creating an enduring, long-lasting polish.”

Jenna Wheeler of Sea Spa says of Vinylux, “You can literally walk out the door right after doing your nails. It’s a lot quicker — somewhere in between a regular manicure and a shellac. Dry time is cut way down.”

Upscale apothecary Rouge Luxe in Oak Bluffs offers makeup and nail polish along with its wonderful selection of skincare products, fragrances, and home scent items. Owner Kathryn Magistrini has selected the Deborah Lippmann line of nail polishes for their healthier eco-friendly approach. The varnishes, in fab colors, contain no formaldehyde, toluene, or DBP, and are not animal tested. Polishes range from $18 to $20 and, for $45, you can purchase a gel lab treatment system with a top and base coat that give your polish the look of a gel treatment.

Rouge Luxe has an Island exclusive on the brand, as they do with the following popular lines: – Kiehls skin care, Bare Minerals and Bare Escentuals makeup, and Art of Shaving men’s products.

Whichever your polish brand of choice, there’s a wide array of options available right here on the Vineyard. So, looking forward to barefoot, flip-flop, peep-toe, sandal season, add some extra color to your outlook. Just about any shade goes great with sandy toes.