Bottle it Up: Lacquerous, A Netflix for Nail Polish

The new nail polish club allows subscribers to rent three high-quality colors a month

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In this anti-ownership era, anyone one can have anything for a limited time only. We bike share, Zipcar, and Netflix our way through the day without having to sign anything permanent. Websites like Rent the Runway and Bag Borrow or Steal allow a tenuous hold on whatever the heart desires (within company-defined limits). Lacquerous, a brand-new nail polish sharing company, combines the rental aspect of Rent the Runway with the subscription model of Birchbox, to allow any girl to dip her nails into a variety of luxury polishes for a flat rate of $18 a month.

Think of Lacquerous as like having a friend with a foot-deep drawer or basket stuffed with dozens of bottles of the highest-quality polish—Tom Ford, Chanel, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Mac, Deborah Lippmann, Nars and Butter London. Right now, the company offers more than 70 shades from these brands, but plans to expand its collection. Lacqerous bills itself as first online nail sharing service for luxury lacquer, and already boasts a waiting list of over 2,500 people in its first day of business. Currently, the service is invitation-only and only a few hundred members got access today.

The $18 monthly fee covers a 30-day rental of three polishes of the customer’s choosing. Lacquerous includes a pre-paid mailing label to return the colors and sends the next shipment a few days later. Subscribers create “Lust Lists” of favorite lacquers that the company uses to select bottles to send and to assess personal taste to make suggestions. Users can also submit requests for favorite shades.

The communal characteristic means that users can only apply three coats of polish per rental. Lacquerous monitors polish levels in between dispatches, but otherwise operates on an honor system. That system of trust also applies to hygienics: the company states on its website that no bacteria can live in nail polish, which should calm some germophobes. Aside from that, Lacquerous recommends that polish users maintain sanitary nail habits, regular manicures for upkeep, and base coats, which are not included with the deliveries.

Lacquerous was founded by marketing executive Ashlene Nand and Third Wave Fashion founder Liza Kindred. They based their business model on the idea that spending between $14-$30 for a single bottle of luxury lacquer wasn’t always justified by their amount of use. Along with general information, their site features a Tumblr of nail art to test with their selections. It’s all new and likely to adapt over time, but if your communal threshold is low, remember this: salons don’t buy a new polish bottle after every customer.

24 comments
Evilkiddah
Evilkiddah

Well after checking out this "service" I can say that I for one would never buy into it. The open ended issue about contamination being a possibility is just down right wrong if they can't produce facts that can back up their claim. Again for those who state that we all experience this when we buy polishes and such that they are opened. The vast majority of my polish comes from online retailers and I do not test when in store and I do not get mani's or pedies anywhere period. Their business model is so loosely worded that they can do as they please, buyer beware anyone? I have been a business owner and I clearly state on all my contracts every discloser so I am not in a situation where I could be sued. Like it or not, to tell people they basically have no business in disagreeing with this  and they should just move on...Umm anytime there is a start up in the world of fashion and beauty people are going to have varying degrees of interest and opinions. A company that fosters a image that no negativity is accepted is clearly going to receive it back from the potential users of their service. I follow all the latest information on these sub services and trust me Word of mouth goes along way with the potential subscribers. Bottom line, have I signed up for this service? No way in hell and I have shared this with the people I know and share information with. It's my prerogative like it or not.

Zadidoll
Zadidoll

What happened to the comments in that article? I can't see it at all. Having gone to cosmetology school we were SHOWN that YES polish CAN become contaminate which is something that Lacquerous denies. The issue I have is that these polishes are being sent to people whose hygiene is not known much less if they have some kind of infection that can containment the polish. There is also the issue of legality because while this is "rent" it's still technically USED products. This was brought up in a discussion on my wall and a few other walls. 1) What's to stop someone from emptying the polishes and replacing the authentic polish with a cheap dupe? 2) What's to stop a person from using it more than three times and simply topping it with a clear top coat and shaking the bottle so it looks? 3) How are they going to measure the amount really used? What if the person uses more because they do nail art? Technically it's still using it for a manicure if someone decides to do a water marbling technique and use half the bottle of polish that way. Personally, I won't be signing up. For $1.99 more I can go get another subscription to Julep or four bottles of OPI or five of China Glaze from Cosmoprof. Good concept but it would have been better if they launched it as a buying new products rather than renting and being allowed to use it three times.

justsaying
justsaying

I like the idea. I thought this through and it actually is pretty genius. I mean, some women are getting all worked up, but think about it. The TOS is pretty standard stuff. That's a dumb argument. Noone is going to do something illegal and risk continual disputes from your banks. Stupid. Bottom line - they can and should have the option to kick people out of the club who abuse it. And the sanitary issue is a personal one, not a scientific one because nothing can live in nail polish (unless you use the brush directly after someone else at a salon but they transport their nail polish so most stuff will die pretty instantly when you reseal it.) I've emailed Lacquerous' customer service and got satisfactory answers so I joined. I do fear the waiting list might be pretty long. 

musicalhouses
musicalhouses

As a heavy nail polish user (I even write about beauty products as a hobby) and someone whose undergrad degree was in Economics, I'd like to point out a few things amiss with the business model, in addition to what everyone has already commented on: 

1. The business has misread their customers. Such a service  would not appeal to any customer groups.

I imagine a business like this would target two types of customers: the polish fanatics, and the "normal" non-fanatic consumer. Both would not be attracted to use Lacquerous. 

For the first group of polish fanatics, part of their joy is in owning the bottles they have - even if they have so many bottles they only wear each colour once! A lot of them see collecting as a hobby, and would much rather buy than rent. As you can tell, a lot of negative comments on this article are from nail polish fanatics (myself included), and the reaction is partly due to the fact that such consumers can't imagine renting nail polish. It's just not done in this group. So you won't see any of us using it.

Next, your average girl. Anecdotally, most "normal" girls I know of (not nail polish fanatics) would rather buy, say, 5 bottles of polish and wear them to death than rent bottles. The truth is, they see a colour they like (or hear about the season's hot shade), and buy it, and are happy to wear those couple of colours. They wouldn't be keeping up with the latest nail polish releases enough to covet them and want to rent them. So no traction there either.

2. The price isn't right.

Branded bags can be really expensive - four figures and up. This is part of the reason people rent them - not being able to buy the bag drives them to rent. The most expensive non-indie nail polish would only set you back maybe $25 - hardly enough to prompt you to join a nail polish rental service, especially when it's $18 per month! Unless they have nail polish that is extremely expensive and rare (eg Clarins 230 - google it), it's unlikely to attract customers.

This would only work if there are a group of clients who treat nail polish like they treat DVDs - rent once, watch once, never use again, and I don't care if I own it anymore. Either client base as described above wouldn't do this. The nail polish fanatics will want to own their bottles, and the non-fanatics would reuse their bottles, making either group unlikely to prefer rental to ownership.

3. The  icky-poo-poo factor. 

While I know that the chemical soup that is nail polish is hardier to germ infestation than other beauty products, it is still entirely possible that something could pass. But more than that, being what is essentially the distributor of used polish (used many times among many people) brings with it a lot of risk. What if a customer gets a nail infection after using Lacquerous and decides to sue the company? You could probably check the polish and see if said germ is in the polish, but the time and money wouldn't be worth it. Not to mention, 

On this point, I'd like to point out that the comparisons used aren't accurate. The article draws comparisons to bag and movie rentals, but nail polish really doesn't fall in the same category. Bags and movies are viewed as either entertainment or accessories. So I could look at these businesses and gauge the level of interest for, say, a books rental or belts and bracelets rental business. Nail polish in the consumer's mind is really more of a beauty product. To gauge the success of this model, I'd think, would a makeup rental or skincare products rental business do well? Common sense would say no. Just too icky!

So there you go - from a heavy polish user, my $0.02 on this business. This is not withstanding all the comments about unfair and arbitrary policies, which have already been touched on in other comments. I'd be keen to see how it does though.

ClubNailPolish
ClubNailPolish

ClubNailPolish.com says very interesting  like Shultz said on Hogan's Heroes. Hey, we have a pre-launch sign-up too! Toodles....for now..

Jen
Jen

I've read through their TOS and don't like most of what I see including running my credit, charging me who knows how much for polish that could arrive to me broken or damaged by no fault of my own, they get to decide if I used a polish more than 3 times then charge me whatever they see fit for it. This whole company sounds like a scam. Also would like to mention that I asked very valid questions on their facebook page about how they would be policing things like polish being decanted and replaced with cheaper dupe, and acetone being added to polish. Not only was my question ignored, but it was deleted. Transparency is key in this day and age and these people aren't doing a very good job with that, in my opinion. This company managed to lose my trust the day they launched, I think that's a new record

LacqueredUpLady
LacqueredUpLady

As Polish_Galore commented, users need to be extremely careful about the terms of service with this company. The company indicates that all determinations of usage are at their sole discretion. Hence, there is no way for you to prove that you didn't use too much nail polish and there is no indication of the condition of the polish upon receipt. Further, the fees for replacement or damaged good are not specified in the terms of service, which should make any user wary. In addition, they run credit checks, which is highly invasive. Finally, though they insure their packaging, they consider you responsible for the product the minute they drop it off at the post office. Thus, if the postal service looses the package before you have it in your custody, you will be charged. Buyer be ware!

Polish_Galore
Polish_Galore

Have you checked out their Terms of Service?  They can do a credit check on you, have sole discretion on how much polish you used, and even though your package is insured, if it's lost, they will charge you for it.  The original concept that was presented - luxury nail polish as a monthly subscription service (think Julep), sounded great.  For $18, I'll grab my own bottle of deborah lippmann or NARS when I desire.

SamanthaH
SamanthaH

I've read that there is no air or water in nail polish therefore no bacteria/fungus can grow. (They need one or the other) Not to mention all the chemicals that nail polishes already contain.

I don't know about their FB page as I've not looked them up there yet, but I think it's disrespectful and unnecessary for people to leave negative comments when no one has used their products yet, they just launched. It's B.S. If you're not interested then keep it moving. Focus on more important things.

Personally, I'm not sure I'll be trying this service out, but man, there are some haters out there when others may have a lucrative idea.

alottosay
alottosay

There is no way that these high end companies agreed to participate in this. The idea does not target their consumer.

It is unsanitary. The brushes can carry nail fungus and other bacteria. The polish consistency changes over openings. What if people that are "renting" the polish replaces it with a cheaper version, pours a thinner in or anything else? How is this company purchasing these polishes from these companies? Third party? Distributor? Purchasing it themselves? You are telling me there is a 3 application limit? Some people like to put on more color then others. It's also humorous that their Facebook has blocked all negative comments. 

It sounds gross, and not very well thought out. 

AC531
AC531

Cool concept! I think this will catch on quickly and seems to be a very smart alternative to the ridiculous costs of a single bottle of designer polish from a department store. 

Lisa45
Lisa45

@Zadidoll You seem to have a lot to say. I've seen your same comments in other places. Do you have something else better to do than knock these guys? I've signed up and I can't wait to start. Here's why I'm not going to be bullied by your opinions: Firstly, there are people who 'couch surf' in this world! It's personal choice and so is your hygiene. Second, if you have an open wound don't use it! Or clean the brush.! Lacquerous says they inspect the nail polish and CLEAN THE BRUSH. We reuse nail polish in our daily lives all the time (salon, DEPARTMENT STORE testers, even in TARGET nail polish sold is not sealed - anyone can use it and put it back. DUH! Third, why on earth would someone go to the drugstore, find the EXACT same color, take it out (and store it somewhere?) and THEN send it back to Lacquerous in hopes they don't get caught or kicked out of the club??? HOW STUPID IS THAT!!! If you want to use half a bottle of CHANEL nail polish to do ART, you SHOULDN'T BE ALLOWED IN THE CLUB!! There is a risk we take when we take drugs, eat food, GET BOTOX IN OUR FACE!!!!! Your comment is pathetic and way out of line. Why don't you just ASK them and move on with your life?

musicalhouses
musicalhouses

@justsaying I think (from my very elementary biology classes) that germs can't hibernate in nail polish, they would die. But things like fungal spores probably can, since these can stay dormant for long periods of time in inhospitable conditions (eg nail polish), and then germinate when in the right environments (eg your toenail). So yes while bacteria might die, not everything will!

Lacqueredup
Lacqueredup

@musicalhouses I'm also a business person and wholeheartedly disagree. This does attract certain customer groups who want that Chanel or Tom Ford to try before perhaps even buying. I think the average girl would rather buy than rent because she hasn't had the option! Also for the woman who pays under $18 for one nail polish that isn't luxury and then only uses a bit of it and watches her money sit around - this is perfect for her. There are many customer groups that would be interested.  

As for the "icky poo" factor. Who said it was entirely possible something could pass? Is that opinion or fact? I know I for one use testers at department stores but could i sue a Sephora or Saks? It's pretty much the same concept. Most companies protect themselves incase of lawsuits. Nail polish is a beauty product but changing customers perception is what innovation does. 

As a heavy polish user aswell, I understand some concerns but I think beauty innovation is so behind, it's about time we got creative. Even if we don't like it, we need to stop being scared of change and emotional. I support other female entrepreneurs.  Above all, as a business person you should know, don't diss it until you've tried it!

justsaying
justsaying

@LacqueredUpLady Well, actually, most companies have the same TOS incase people abuse the system. It's pretty standard.

zadidoll
zadidoll

@SamanthaH Actually nail polish CAN become contaminated with infectious diseases and even fungus. I remember a lesson at beauty school because a student worked on a customer with a toe nail infection. The instructor realized too late that the student worked on and applied polish to the ladies toes. A short time after that the instructor gave us all a lesson on why we can't work on those with infections or fungal infections and took that contaminated polish and a Petri dish and we all saw that yes polish can be contaminated. Also, this service maybe against the law since you can't distribute used cosmetics or nail products.

GracePedrotti
GracePedrotti

@Lisa45 the issue isn't wether or not I would choose to break the terms of service, the issue is not knowing if other people are doing sketchy things, there are so many people who think its no big deal to shoplift, or return photocopies of netflix movies and keep the discs. There are a lot of shitty people out there, so trusting them with something I would spend money on is not an idea everybody is game with.

There have been dozens of scammy "beauty subscription" services in the past year. I have a feeling this will turn out to be one of them.

Lacqueredup
Lacqueredup

@musicalhouses Actually they probably can't. It's science. That's why salons around the country - the good, bad, and ugly - can operate as such. How many cases do you know of that people have sued for contraction of fungus or anything else from nail polish? 0. It's not scientifically possible. People are confusing personal preferences with facts. You do so at your own risk but know the facts. Some of these comments are just sad, sad, sad rubbish because there are women out there who might really like a service such as this.

musicalhouses
musicalhouses

@Lacqueredup @musicalhouses 

For the customer groups, I guess we both have our views - my view is that neither of these groups have an inherent need to rent nail polish and this will not change with Lacquerous, your view is that this is a dormant need that will be well served by the introduction of this previously-unavailable service. We both have our own readings and it could go either way - I guess only time will tell! 

For the "icky poo" factor, to be honest, I don't know nearly enough about germs, viruses or fungi to tell you! But I look at @zadidoll 's comment (below) and she's speaking from her own experience as a nail tech-in-training. But whether this is true or not is perhaps besides the point I was attempting to make. The point is that customer perception (and any legal ramifications/bad press that could result) is problematic right from the inception of the business. Lacquerous would have to work extra hard to change customers' perception of whether this is really icky or not. I do feel that part of the success would be determined by whether they manage to do so or not. The fact that there are so many negative comments about this shows that it could be a real stumbling block. But then again, as always, you never know - they might just do it.

I don't want to come across as unsupportive of female entrepreneurs - goodness knows how underrepresented we are. I was just pointing out that, regardless of gender, from the point of view of someone a service like this could potentially appeal to, the business already looks problematic to me. But I'd still be keen to see how the business fares.

Lacqueredup
Lacqueredup

@zadidoll @SamanthaH No actually it cannot. You can't contaminate  nail polish! Brush yes (clean brush before use) but polish, nope. 

musicalhouses
musicalhouses

@Lacqueredup @musicalhouses @zadidoll Actually I shouldn't say "we" in the last paragraph  - I'm not actually a female entrepreneur (just wanted to clarify). I'm just female, so that's what I was thinking of when I wrote "how underrepresented we are". I just realized the wording wasn't very clear, and someone could think I'm an entrepreneur when I'm not.

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