The History & Evolution of Nail Polish

Cleopatra & Red Nail Polish

It’s hard to think about what nail remedies were before going to the salons and getting our gel manicures or applying quick, beautiful nail strips. Long before all of the long-lasting manicures we all love and know, people were using kohl to get their nails to look special or even doing a henna manicure. To even think about how nails signified people class status is fun and interesting and even more surprising to think about how nails became to be such a fundamental part of the beauty world from all the way back to the B.C. time period! 

Nail polish was first originated in China as early as 3000 BC. The Chinese used their nail colors as a distinction of rank and dynasty. By doing so, the upper classes used ingredients like beeswax, egg whites, and even vegetable dyes to make their nails stand out. The higher-level rulers often wore highly pigmented colors like the classic red. (It’s no surprise here that the red manicures are still so iconic to this day!) Although it may seem like everyone was able to paint their nails, not all were. If a lower-class member was caught with a different color than your assigned class, you would be in big trouble and some even resulted in death. (How crazy is that!) 

Aside from the classic solids, the turn of the nail designs came into effect when Cleopatra decided to change the trend from beeswax and home dyes to henna. We all know henna as the beautiful designs that can be a temporary tattoo, but instead of the intricate designs, Cleopatra used henna to give her nails a darker tint. She would dip each finger in the henna, coating just the nail portion. Of course, her go-to color was a blood red. 

After countless ways to create nail polish, the first ever nail salon was opened in 1878 by Mary E. Cobb. She was so fascinated with the art of manicures and wanted to share her love for nail care to everyone by opening a nail salon. Cobb first learned the art of the manicure in France and then redeveloped the process. She brought all of her love and knowledge of nails to the United States where she tends opened the first ever nail salon “Mrs. Pray’s Manicure”. All thanks to her, there are now roughly 56,300 nail salons all over the United States! Aside from her first parlor, she then began to develop her own line of products AND created the very first at-home manicure guide. Oh yes, and the emery board? That was her too. 

Within years, new brands came into play like Cutex & Revlon, launching with new nail products that we now know today as our nail essentials. With products like cuticle oil, nail clippers, top-coat and everything else under the sun, big brands began to really launch expanding the nail industry with wide varieties of product. 

After the fabulous decades of nail polishes expanding the nail industry, there was a new product in town thanks to the girl bosses behind the brand Jamberry Nails. Christy, Lyndsey and their older sister Keri founded Jamberry Nails, the first nail wrap company, in 2010 in their own basement! Nail wraps were the best way to get an at home manicure but, if only there was a formula that would not require heat to set the strips… 

Fast-forward a few years and nail strips were invented. Yes, you guessed it. A combination of the classic nail wraps that are not vinyl, but 100% nail polish, with an adhesive that doesn’t require heat. With nail strips in the game, you are able to apply on the go or in the comfort of your own home rather than venturing out to the salon. There are a wide variety of different sizes, colors, shapes & so many more ways to elevate your classic nail polish to a fun conversation starter. If you love classic colors, nail strips come in that too! There is an unlimited amount of fun when it comes to nails strips and they are growing fast with different ways they can expand as well. A way to save some money and keep your nails looking fabulous? I think we are all in for a real treat! 

Now I wonder what is next on the life span of nail polish & strips. Any ideas? To keep updated on more fun facts, tips and shop our fabulous nail strips click here. Don’t forget to share your love by liking this post & comment below what you think is next on the nail timeline! Missed our last post? Don’t worry you can check it out here. Thank you so much for reading! 

*Sources include Byrdie, Good Housekeeping, & The Cut

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