Sales of nail polish, which in 2009 accounted for 9 per cent of all make-up sales, have grown at over twice the rate of other colour cosmetics in the last five years.
Sales grew by almost 23 per cent to £96million in 2008, a study by consumer analysts Mintel found.
But when times are tough, today’s generation boost their mood with an alternative warpaint - nail polish.
Tesco is currently trialling 25-minute £10 manicures at its nail bars in four stores, for instance.
And at Superdrug’s Andrea Fulerton Nail Bars, nails are filed, buffed and shined for £10, while a manicure finished with a varnish costs £12.
Generations of women have banished their woes with a lick of scarlet lipstick.
During the Second World War the Government even encouraged the inexpensive indulgence, dubbing it the ‘red badge of courage’.
And despite the recession the figure had soared to £132 million by 2010.
Vivienne Rudd, Senior Beauty Analyst at Mintel, said nail polish sales have defied expectations.
It was at the time even being offered on ebay for a minimum bid of £100.
Jayne Demuro, Head of Beauty at Selfridges said: 'Nails are one of beauty’s biggest trends right now, with nail colours and designs becoming the ultimate fashion accessory.
Meanwhile groomed nails had a positive impact on confidence to some extent for the eight in ten women and six in ten of all adults.
One third strongly agreed that groomed hand and nails boosts their confidence.
Although the prospect of professional treatments is appealing to 45 per cent, almost half of adult women, the cost - a basic manicure can run to the price of a meal at a restaurant chain - remains a barrier for many.