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March 7, 2012 by pam

Last year, while I was in the US, I was supposed to interview Deborah Lippmann for the newspaper I work for. Sadly, our schedules didn’t meet. During her only free evening in New York, I was in Pennsylvania for Ver and Joel’s awesome wedding.

I was sad to miss the chance to meet Deborah but I was happy that I was at least able to interview her via e-mail. My interview with Deborah Lippmann came out in the paper a couple of weeks ago, just before the Oscars.


Here’s a link to the online version.

And here’s the full text of the interview (and a sidebar on getting your nails red carpet-ready):


Celebrity favorite Deborah Lippmann talks about nail care, music, glitter – and what you should wear on your nails in 2012

By Pam Pastor

Deborah Lippmann, manicurist to the stars, is actually a star herself. She’s an accomplished jazz singer with two albums.


Although music is her first love, Lippmann decided to pursue her second love and entered cosmetology school. She started working as editorial manicurist for Vogue, Vanity Fair, W and InStyle, giving big celebrities like Madonna, Beyonce, Kate Winslet and Mariah Carey cover-worthy manicures.

She took things a step further and launched her own nail polish line, collaborating with her favorite celebrities to create gorgeous nail polish shades. With actress Renee Zellweger, she created a black cherry crème they named “Just Walk Away Renee.”

Just Walk Away Renee

Lippmann and Sarah Jessica Parker partnered to make a sexy sheer pink called “Sarah Smile.” Her collaboration with Cher resulted in “Believe,” a beautiful metallic gold beige.

Sarah Smile


Lippmann has also worked with designers, perfecting the shade “Stormy Weather” (edgy granite) with Narciso Rodriguez, and “Purple Rain” (metallic purple) with Zac Posen.

Stormy Weather

Purple Rain

Each shade Lippmann makes is named after songs—another testament to her love of music. “I decided to name my shades after song titles because I’m a jazz singer and so passionate about music, and I felt strongly that the names should evoke a feeling rather than a specific shade because we all see color differently. Whether you know the song or not, the names are just fun!” she said.

It isn’t just her collaborations with celebrities that women love. Her grown-up take on glitter has made them realize that sparkly nails aren’t just for little girls.

Deborah Lippmann, the brand, has become hugely successful. Like the women whose nails she preps for their concerts and big awards shows (she did Meryl Streep’s nails for the Golden Globes and has done Lady Gaga’s nails for the Grammys), she now has fans all over the world.

In this e-mail interview, Lippmann answers Inquirer Lifestyle’s questions on nail care, glitter and what will be hot in nails in 2012.

Your big passion has always been music—why did you decide to go into the beauty industry?

After college I had to pay the rent, so while I was singing my way around the local lounge scene and starring in musical theater, I pursued my second love of the beauty industry and went to cosmetology school. I then worked as manicurist in an elite Phoenix salon—a job that helped me land some high-profile gigs.

When I moved to New York to pursue singing jazz, which I still do today, I couldn’t make the kind of living I wanted to and I was not successful at waiting tables. I started working as an editorial manicurist for some top fashion and beauty magazines and found myself literally hand in hand with some of the most iconic celebrities of our time.

It was Renee Zellweger who inspired me to pursue my true passion—music.

What sets Deborah Lippmann apart from other polish brands?

My nail lacquers are long-wearing, quick-drying, highly pigmented. and free of formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalates. They are made with finest ingredients, offering more than just gorgeous color, but also treatment benefits. Biotin and green tea, with Aucoumea Klaineana extract (a natural resin from West African trees) strengthen, hydrate, stimulate nail growth and prevent ridge formation.

With a slightly thicker consistency and brush bristles that are more densely packed, my nail color glides on evenly and effortlessly for a truly professional finish.

My collection includes colors that are on the cutting edge of fashion and my hand and foot treatments are as luxurious as they are indulgent.

What are your inspirations?

Everything in life inspires me—it could be anything from a rock on the street and people I meet, to art, fashion and design. Traveling and seeing the world is a definite source of inspiration, but it could also come from something as simple as a salt shaker on the table. Inspiration comes from the funniest places. I also get inspiration from my customers and clients.

You’ve changed the way countless women feel about wearing glitter—was that something you really set out to do or did that come as a surprise?

When I started creating my glitter formulas, I had the feeling that we all needed to be feeling happier. Sometimes we can’t get the luxury things we want. It really took off in a way I never expected.

The first chunky glitter, Happy Birthday, is by far our top-selling shade years later. Nail lacquer is growing in popularity because we started getting into the trend when the recession hit, and we had to rethink how we did things. Women started doing their own nails and realized how fun it could be to create their own look—it can be therapeutic, a time for girlfriends to spend together, and bonding time for mothers and daughters.

Originally, women may have been doing it as a necessity when they were impacted by the recession, but now women are doing their nails because it’s fun and they’re into it. Recession or not, nails have become an affordable accessory.

Forget You

Candy Shop

How do you choose which celebrities to create nail polish shades with? Which collaborations are your favorite?

I have had the privilege of working closely with incredibly talented artists and have collaborated with a number of them on nail lacquers. Lady Gaga loves Fashion, Fade to Black, and the past holiday season we launched an exclusive shade with Lady Gaga for Barneys Gaga Workshop. I worked with Cher to create her own lacquer called Believe, Mary J. Blige to create No More Drama, Pat Benatar to create Hit Me With Your Best Shot and Mariah Carey to create Satin Doll.

Mary J. Blige with Deborah

No More Drama

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

What’s going to be hot in nails in 2012?

I love vibrant blues and greens like my new spring shades, Mermaid’s Dream, a gorgeous glittery sea foam, and On the Beach, a rich Riviera blue.

Mermaid’s Dream

On The Beach

We’ll also see bright neon shades like plum, orange, yellow, salmon and pink. I think the neon shades we’ll see this spring will be more wearable. I did a more sophisticated neon for spring that has a great matte finish. My neon shades are also FDA-approved which we haven’t seen in the past.

Painting nails with different shades is becoming a trend, and if you go with the trend you can use a different lacquer on every nail. You could use glitter on some nails, and crème on others. The idea is to mix and match, and never worry about what you’re wearing.

Nails are a way to express feelings and creativity—it gives people so much pleasure. It’s fun, nails are very much in the forefront of fashion now, and it’s really all about having the confidence to pull it off.

What are you wearing on your nails now?

For the last year it’s been Naked. It’s sheer beige, a very nude, sheer beige. I felt that a nude beige was a prettier way to wear a nude nail since we saw sheer pinks for so long. If I want to feel chic, French and sophisticated I would wear a nude beige over a sheer pink which would be Naked. If I wore a sheer pink, it would be Baby Love.
I’m like a lot of my customers—on my toes I’ll wear anything. On my nails I either go nude or super dark, but I don’t do in the middle much. I love Stormy Weather, a deep granite gray and I’ve been wearing a beautiful dark red crème shade called Single Ladies.


Deborah Lippmann shares tips and tricks on having healthy nails that are ready for the spotlight.

File, don’t saw. “Use the shape of your cuticle as a guide to shaping your nails. When filing, never saw back and forth on the tip of the nail. Look at the hands from every angle. File from each outside edge toward the center of the nail. Don’t over file, but make sure that your nails tips are smooth to prevent tearing.”

Care for your cuticle. “I’m a big believer that cutting the cuticle is not the way to go. Your skin is your body’s largest organ and your cuticles are the end of the skin—they are meant to be there to act as barrier for bacteria. My cuticle remover is a convenient way to care for and maintain your cuticles each week because it’s a completely waterless system.

To use, apply cuticle remover liberally to all nails where the skin meets the nail. Gently push cuticles back with a cuticle pusher. You must go around the cuticle area several times to get a clean cuticle.

Wipe clean with a piece of cotton. When you’re finished, any remaining lifted pieces of skin are hangnails. Carefully nip only these dead pieces of skin. Never cut all the way around the cuticle because this will case the skin to become ragged and tear, opening the body to bacteria.”

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. “Always moisturize your hands with hand cream or cuticle oil every time you wash your hands. Think about when you wash your face, you would probably not wash your face and not hydrate your face. We always wonder why our hands and cuticles are dry, but it’s because we’re not treating them properly.

When moisturizing your hands, massage hand cream into your cuticles. Massaging the nails and cuticles regularly is good for nail growth, will get blood flowing to the surface for healthy nails, and will create a rosy flush so nails look great with or without lacquer. My Rich Girl Hand and Cuticle Cream contains a botanical brightening complex helps to even skin tone, and the broad-spectrum SPF 25 sunscreen to prevent sun-induced hyper pigmentation.”


I have good news for Deborah Lippmann fans in the Philippines. If, like me, you’ve been stalking Rustan’s shelves in hopes of seeing new colors arrive, you’re in luck. Deborah’s Fall 2011 colors are finally here along with other pretties (yes, including the crazy glitter!).


I picked up Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? and Stairway To Heaven.


I’m definitely coming back for Shake Your Groove Thing and I Love The Nightlife.


I also got Billionaire. I was planning on getting Stormy Weather too but the super sweet Miss Bun got me a bottle while she was in LA so I skipped it. I will go back for Brick House too.


I hear that more colors are arriving in April. I promise to post an update when I get more info.

Deborah Lippmann’s nail care and nail polish line is available at Rustan’s The Beauty Source


  1. ledz says:

    i’ve always wondered… does Deborah pay royalties to the song owner or something? how does that even work?

  2. charly says:

    please update us if mermaid’s dream and on the beach has already arrived in rustan’s…thank you

  3. Cecilia Leung says:

    I am a Lippmann polish fan! But I recently bought the Mermaid’s Dream and found out the brush is deformed…… Boo~hoOOooo…..! Any idea how to fix it? it looks like a golf club (the bristles are bent to an angle)… :’(

    • pam says:

      Hi Cecilia! Oh no! :( So sorry to hear that! I hate wonky brushes too! Here’s something you can try:

      Use polish remover and clean the brush completely. Try bending the brush towards the opposite angle repeatedly to make it straight again. You might also want to use the book method – make sure the brush is the way it should be and leave it sandwiched between the pages of a heavy book.

      Good luck!

  4. Marvi says:

    Which Rustan’s do you go to? The one in Shang rarely has the colors i like. There’s always very few stocks. :(

    • pam says:

      I go to Shang and Makati. I love both places and have bought a lot of Lippmanns there. Which colors are you looking for?

  5. ty hargrove says:

    Hi wei! so I am finally starting my rough draft for my trend/feature story and I just have a few questions right now to ask you.

    1. What are the nail trends that you are noticing now?
    examples: Shape, length or color

    2. Which is more in style is more popular?
    example: acrylic, shellac, gel or natural nails?

    3. what nail polish is the most popular?
    example: OPI, OPI crackle…or anything else?

    4. what are different types of nail designs?

    5. What colors are popular in the spring v.s winter or fall?
    example: pastels in the spring

    feel free to add any other input that you have.

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