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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The History of Nail Polish - Guest Post

This morning I have a guest post for you by Selina Torres, a free-lance writer from Glisten, a new skincare company. 

Selina Torres is clearly obsessed with cosmetics as she’s officially lost count of her nail polish collection.  When she’s not chasing after the newest glitter polish, she enjoys writing for Glisten, a fabulous new skin care company.

A Brief History of Nail Polish

Modern manicures are something to be marveled at.  Whether we’re marbling, bejeweling or painting miniature masterpieces, we are spending more time on this beauty routine than our forbearers could have ever imagined.  But when did we officially start decorating our nails?  Well ladies (and gentlemen), pull up a chair and I’ll tell you all about it.

3,000 BC

The manicure originated in China over 5000 years ago.  The Chinese ruling class used nail color as a way to signify wealth and social status.  If that were still the case, we’d all be royals, am I right? 
Chinese polish started with an egg white, gelatin, beeswax and gum Arabic base.  Flowers were added to for color and then the nails were soaked for hours until the desired shade was achieved.  As time passed, the royals began to favor colors of the ruling dynasty, including red, black, gold and silver.
The ancient Egyptians were not to be outdone.  They also began coloring their nails during the 30th century BC.  However, unlike the Chinese, people of all classes were allowed to paint their fingernails. Egyptians used henna as a stain, and colors were used to distinguish among the classes.   The lower classes wore pale tones while the royalty chose shades of red.

Then the dark times came.  For a very long time, not much happened in the manicure world.  However, a look through period art indicates that nail polish, in one form or another, remained common throughout the centuries.


By the turn of 19th century, nail polish and coloring had become more commonplace among the general population in France, England, Italy and the United States.  Hygiene was a major indicator of class during the Victorian era, so clean nails were essential.  Nails were polished rather than painted by massaging tinted powders and creams into the nail beds, and then buffing them shiny.


The 20th century is when things began to get exciting for manicure maniacs.  Would you believe that high-gloss automobile paint is the mother of modern nail polish?  

In the early 1920’s, Michelle Manard, a French makeup-artist adapted the enamel used on cars for use on fingernails.  Her employer, The Charles Revson Company, perfected her formula by using pigments instead of dyes.  In 1932, the company changed its name to Revlon and the rest is history.

In 1922 the introduction of Technicolor brought the makeup and fashion industry into a whole new light.  Women began emulating screen goddesses such as Rita Hayworth by donning her signature red lips and nails.  Even today, nail fashion continues to mirror styles seen on film and television.

Each decade has seen a trend in color.  The 50’s saw matching lips and nails in shades of scarlet.  In the 70’s, the French manicure made its debut on Paris runways and nude shades became all the rage.  Counterculture movements from the 70’s to the 90’s favored black nails to symbolize everything from music to emotion.  Neon shades had a giant upswing in the late 80’s and early 90’s thanks to celebrities like Madonna. 


In the 21st century, the manicure went from a beauty routine to a full time hobby.  Modern polishes tout texture, glitter, metallic sheen and even magnetic metal flakes.  Nail art has become a major industry, with manufacturers producing brushes, tools and embellishments so women everywhere can adorn their nails in an extravagant fashion. 

I personally can’t wait to see what the future holds for nail polish.  Who knows, we may see manicures that feature augmented reality, LED lights and RFiD chips!  Mind=Blown!

"Glisten delivers skincare and beauty products with wit, wisdom and inspiration. Team Glisten wants to help you not only look and feel your best, but also be inspired to live your dream. That's why we offer brands you'll love, exceptional service, and free shipping." 


Thanks for reading! I'll be back later today with more swatches...♥

*I have not personally ordered from Glisten yet. They do carry both cruelty-free brands and non cruelty-free brands. Please see my Disclosure Page for information on guest posts. This is not a sponsored post.

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  1. I've read the story of nail polish many times before, but I always love to read it again :)

    1. I love reading about the history of my favorite things over and over again, too! Thanks for reading!

  2. Very interesting. I never really thought much about where it all started. Thanks for the lesson.

  3. This was very interesting and fun to read!


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