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The Evolution of Nail Art 

Have you ever wondered how nail polish came about and how it evolved? I completed a quick research and created a timeline down below of when it first came about and what it has evolved to now.

5,000 BC – The origin of nail treatment is not exact, however according to many sources, it started in India when women dyed their fingertips with henna.

3,000 BC – The Chinese formed a compound lacquer of gum Arabic, gelatine, beeswax, vegetable dyes and egg whites. Compressed orchids and rose petals were involved in producing shades from pink to red. However, the solution needed to be applied to the nail for hours (overnight sometimes) for a properly pigmented effect.

600 Bc – Aristocrats amid China’s Zhou Dynasty held a preference for sensational gold or silver
on their long nails. Their nails were protected by bejewelled nail guards and were a symbol of wealth and leisure.

0-1800 AD – During the middle ages, manicures were almost considered as a ‘thing of the past’. It was an old tradition during the Renaissance when the wealthy european ladies took a hold of the tradition and avoided any pigments. And, in the 15th century Incas invented ‘nail art’ – nails decorated with intricate designs of eagles.

1800 – 1900’s – Through the victorian age manicures once again gained popularity with a simple method using light tint of red oil and chamois cloth buffering. This minimalistic treatment had something to do with the victorian ideals of physical hygiene, transparent inner beauty and moral purity.

1920’s – The irreverent flapper of the 20’s. Ladies beautified themselves with new clothes and a new attitude, and modernised the nail sphere with old school red including moon manicures.

1930 – 1950’s – In 1932, Revlon’s first bottle of nail polish appeared on shelves in a variety of colours. In 1934, dentist Maxwell Lappe invented fake nails in order for his clients to
stop biting their nails. In 1955, Frederick Slack another dentist accidently formulated acrylic when he was trying to mend a broken nail.

1960’s – Pastel colours were prominent in the year of the 60’s! Superstars such as Goldie Hawn and Farrah Fawcett were adventurous with their eyes and hair; but kept their nails natural.

1970’s – Long fake nails were popular during the 70’s. Beauty salons began to open at a higher rate due to the demand of expert manicures. Jeff Pink launched a well-known manicure: the French Manicure

1980’s – The decade with lack of reticence in fashion as well as nail polishes. Kaleidoscopes of nail colours were accessible ranging from neon yellows, blooming fuchsias to exciting blues.

1990’s – The 90’s brought classic colours such as reds, pinks and nudes back into fashion! And, the grunge lovers had their moment too with chipped, black nails coloured in with sharpie markers.

2000’s – Sheens, cool textures and nail embellishments culminated in designs from lavish to innovative. Shellac nail designs came to light in 2008 with the first gel polish also known as the 2-week manicure. As well as do it yourself nail art became popular, with nail enthusiasts trying out homemade designs and effects.

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