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A Subscription that Nails It

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Quick, ladies -- what’s the one beauty product that you rarely use up? If you’re like most women, the answer is nail polish. It seems many women add to their collection every season (U.S. department store sales of nail color were up 70 percent in the first half of 2012, according to NPD Group findings), but most never find themselves scraping the bottom of the bottle. Given that an average bottle contains enough polish for 30 to 50 applications, depending on nail length and number of coats, it’s not surprising.

What’s a girl to do? Consider Lacquerous. The beauty start-up hopes to streamline and improve the process of polish acquisition with a Netflix-style model that charges subscribers $18 a month for a choice of three nail colors that can be returned and exchanged for new hues. Some 70 shades are available from “prestige” brands that normally retail for $14 to $30 per bottle, including Butter London, Chanel, Dior, MAC and Tom Ford.

Along with offering women a way to spend less and gain ongoing access to a wider variety of nail colors, Lacquerous has a notable advantage: Nail polish is a product that women already willingly share every time they head to a nail salon.

Anticipating questions about hygiene, the company points to research that suggests it’s impossible for bacteria to grow in the “chemical cocktail comprising most polishes.” In addition, Lacquerous plans to inspect all bottles for contamination and will disinfect brushes before sending them on to the next member.