Nail Art: A Brief History

3000 years Before Christ the Chinese used enamel on their fingers. They applied the substance and left it to sit for several hours, the result; a pink finish on their nails. This was the beginning of nail art and the earliest records. The Indians also practiced nail art in a similar period using a dye derived from the Henna plant. This sometimes implied a social significance. Egyptians were another civilization that used nail art early on. The colour of ladies nails were used to identify what class in society you were in. The higher class wore deep shades of red and lower classes wore pale shades. Another mother of nail art was the Inca civilization who actually painted images of eagles on their fingertips.

The modernization of nail art began early in the 19th century. Orange wood sticks were developed in Europe beginning the process. Modern manicures began with this invention around 1830. The popularity created business opportunities and salons started to pop up across the US by late 19th century.

After the creation of the automobile and more importantly the mass production of them, a new range of paints entered the market on the demand of car enthusiasts giving new life to nail art. One of the first design to become poplar was what was knows as the “moon manicure”. This nail art design involved painting the middle of the nail while leaving the moon of the nail unpainted.

The next revolution came from he Revson brothers, with their invention of a new kind of nail enamel and their creation of the company Revlon. The third partner in the business was a Charles Lachman who inspired the “L” in the middle of the company name. Their use of pigments instead of dyes changed the industry dramatically. This allowed for new colours and designs to quickly be adapted. The success instantly made Revlon an industry leader by 1940 and it was clear that nail art was here to stay.

As time moved on, nail art became a symbol to communicate between subcultures. Goths for example started to sport black nail polish, as did rock stars and punks.

Since then, nail art has become more creative and artistic. Many trends have come about such as the addition of symbols and crystals, air brushing, acrylic and gel nail enhancements. Nail art has become integrated into the world of fashion and is now sported as an accessory to any look.

The latest’s in nail art? Nail wraps such as the metallic nails range. These wraps are pre-printed designs from a digital printer, allowing for complex patterns and reflective metallic finishes that are not possible through traditional methods. They are applied with heat activation and allow for designs to be finished in a fraction of the time. Not only this but they protect nails from scratches and don’t chip like traditional products. They last for over 1 month and truly are the latest breakthrough in nail art.

by Metallic Nails on April 16, 2010

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