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A brief history of Nail Polish

November 14, 2016

There are few things more satisfying than perfectly polished nails - especially when it's Shellac and you don't have to spend 15 minutes trying not to touch anything, only to realise you need something in your bag, or the loo, or to answer your phone!

 

But have you ever wondered where, when and how it all began - a strange practice when you think about it, painting our nails. Adorning our fingers and toes with bright colours. 

 

Often made using beeswax, egg white, gelatin and vegetable dyes nail polish originated in China as far back as 3000 BC. In 600 BC the Zhou Dynasty seemed to favour gold and silver - symbols of wealth, until red and black replaced them as royal colours of choice. 

 

While the trend became common place, colours where still hard to get and therefore a symbol of wealth and affluence. In Egypt, lower classes wore pale shades while upper classes, and indeed the pharaohs favoured Henna shades.

 

By the turn of the 9th Century nails were tinted with scented red oils and then buffed to perfection. Years later people used  oils, powders and pastes to stain nails. 

 

It wasn't really until the auto industry started to develop car paint that companies like Cutex and Revlon started creating formulas that worked on nails.

 

In 1981, Essie Weingarten debuted a collection of 12 shades - featuring Blanc, Bordeaux and Baby's Breath- and it changed the industry for ever.  It's hard to imagine now, when we have an entire rainbow of shades available to us, that white, wine and pale pink would take the world by storm - but that they did and after Joan Rivers mentioned her favourite shade on air, the idea of celebrity endorsed nail polish took off... and the rest as they say...is history!

 

 

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