If you are a mani fan, you may think that nail polish and nail art are fairly recent phenomena. But the practice of painting nails dates back thousands of years, and even fake nails are nothing new! Here are just a few highlights from history featuring fabulous fingernails as fashion accessories!
Believe it or not, the earliest evidence of nail polish was found in the tombs of male Babylonian soldiers circa 3500 BCE! Archeologists uncovered manicure tools and green and black kohl among the deceased. It turns out these tough guys wanted to frighten their adversaries with scary nail colors, and nail painting became a regular pre-battle ritual. Nothing like a fierce mani on a manly marauder!
As early as 3000 BCE, women in China sported knockout nails. But if you think your mani takes a long time, try soaking your fingertips overnight in a concoction of egg whites, beeswax, gum arabic and gelatin, colored with the petals of roses and orchids. Enter the first organic nail polish!
Just Look at Chou!
Not to be outdone by their ancient ancestors, noble women and men of China’s Chou dynasty circa 300 BCE grew long nails to show their wealth. Long nails meant you had someone else do the heavy lifting in your life, while you luxuriated in adorning your nails with nail guards made of precious metals encrusted with gems. The first fakes were fab!
Minx of Ancient Egypt
Talk about fashion forward! Nefertiti used henna on her hands and nails, but in 50 BCE, Cleopatra one-upped her by using plant extracts to paint just her nails in shades of deep red. No wonder she became a legend, clever girl!
Nail designs may be all the rage in the 21st Century, but the concept is far from new! In the 1400s, around the time of Columbus, the Aztecs of Peru got the drop on nail art by using sharpened sticks and dyes to paint eagles on their digits.
Vive La Mani!
In the 1830’s, King Louis’ manicurist fashioned a nail file from a dental tool. By the 1870s, the first western commercial nail salon opened in Paris, using tinted oils and powders to clean and buff the fingernails of fashionable men and women. Voila “polished” nails!
In the late 1890s, an American actress pierced her long fingernails and adorned them with bejeweled diamond rings. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed it an up-and-coming fashion trend. Let’s get it started!
In 1917, Cutex took a page from the auto industry’s playbook and created liquid nail colors using the same glossy ingredient as automobile paint. For 35¢, a bottle, average women could bedazzle their digits, just in time for the jazz age. Eleven years later, Cutex came up with the first acetone polish remover. That’s a long time to wait for a polish change!
When dentist Frederick Slack broke a nail in 1957, he whipped up a quick fix in his laboratory using aluminum foil and dental acrylic. Applying it to his nail bed, a light bulb went off, and he and his brother patented the first acrylic nails extensions!
In 1976, Jeff Pink, makeup artist to the stars, wanted a nail color that would go with everything, so actors’ polish would not clash with wardrobe changes. He came up with the idea of the french mani, paying homage to the early French nail polish salons. Encore!
Well, you probably know the rest of the story. Modern manis have taken the best from the past and continue the tradition, coming up with new colors and better products to keep nails in the limelight. Duri leads the charge with amazing products for growing strong healthy nails, like Rejuvacote 1 & 2, and sleek polish in a broad spectrum of dazzling colors to keep you looking beautiful and polished!