The U.S. nail color and care market fared well during the economic slump, as women tightened their purse strings and turned to at-home nail care options versus the pricey spa alternatives. And it looks like the market has young women and moms to thank for the growth. According to latest research by Mintel, women in households with children are more likely to use most nail care products than those without children in their homes. This is particularly notable with nail art accessories where nearly a quarter (24 percent) of women with children report usage compared to 11percent in households without children.

Moms are an important consumer group that might be tight on time and lack the extra income to spend at a spa but are still looking to treat themselves to some fashion-forward beauty. Furthermore, 79 percent of those with children use colored nail polish versus 65 percent without children and 22 percent of respondents with children report using artificial nails as opposed to only 9 percent without children.

“The beauty industry generally benefits when consumers have higher levels of disposable income; however, the nail care industry has experienced strong growth in recent years, despite the weak economy,” says Shannon Romanowski, beauty and personal care analyst at Mintel. “Nail polish offers women an affordable way to experiment with new colors and stay current with fashion trends, often for less than $10 a bottle. The affordability of nail polish, combined with new products and colors, makes nail care a reasonable splurge for lower- to middle-income women.”

Young women are also helping to drive the nail care segment. Use of colored nail polish is highest among women aged 18-24 with 85 percent reporting usage compared to 71 percent of total female respondents. Younger women also show elevated use of nail art (33 percent versus 16 percent of all respondents), artificial nails (23 percent versus 14 percent of all respondents), and gel nail polish (14 percent versus 10 percent of all respondents). These younger consumers are likely more influenced by fashion trends and are willing to experiment with new looks.

“Nail care users younger than 35 are significantly more likely than their older counterparts to view wearing nail polish as a way to express their personality and follow fashion trends. Meanwhile, those between 35 and 44 feel that painting their nails is a way to pamper themselves and take a moment of ‘me time’ in their busy schedules,” adds Shannon Romanowski.

Expense plays a large role in why women do their nails at home, but it is not the only issue. Just over half (54 percent) of women say they would get their nails done more often at a salon, but it’s too expensive; however, some 27 percent are concerned about health and safety issues at salons and 18 percent think getting their nails done in a salon simply takes too much time.

Nail care may also have a season. Not surprisingly, the sunshine and warmth sees a lot more painted nails as 58 percent of women say they polish their toenails more and 31 percent polish their fingernails more in the summer months.

The nail color and care market in the US grew by nearly three-quarters (72 percent) since 2007, with sales estimated at $2.5 billion at the end of 2012. Growth is expected to continue through 2017, albeit at a slower pace than previous years, with sales expected to reach just over $4 billion.