A Brief History of Nail Polish

Hey everyone! I was recently getting a manicure and pedicure at my favourite inexpensive nail salon (Elegant Spa in Etobicoke) and I started to wonder how nail polish came to be. I figured I would try to research this and share my findings with you if you’re ever curious as to the origins as well, and if you don’t want to just rely on Wikipedia.

The concept of decorating one’s nails dates all the way back to ancient times, approximately 5000 BC primarily in Egypt and India where people would use henna to tint their hands and nails. It was not until around 3000 BC that Chinese people began mixing ingredients and bottling it for the purpose of painting nails. Throughout these ancient times however, nail colour was seen as a sign of status and nobility. In some cases, if people of lower classes were caught wearing certain colours or designs, they would be sentenced to death.

It was not until the late 19th century that manicures gained popularity in America after being a staple in French culture for quite some time. While clear polish was traditionally used for manicures, in 1932, Revlon released a “Creamy Enamel” sold only in beauty salons. The owner of Revlon, Charles Revson actually started giving nail polish more fun names like “Kissing Pink” (although that’s tame considering we now have nail polishes called Orgasm and whatnot.)

Nail polish and nail art seems to be continuously evolving to meet style trends as well as lifestyle movements with no end in sight. Companies have begun being more aware of the usage of harsh chemicals in their products with many producing nail polishes that are now free of “The Big 3”: DBP (plasticizer that helps prevent chips), formaldehyde (makes polish more resilient), and toluene (makes the polish easier to apply). There is also a growing trend in green beauty that has organic or natural nail polish, however I have been told that a lot of these do not provide as long of a wear (but it’s mostly because they don’t contain harmful chemicals). To be fair however, I am neither a doctor or a chemist so I cannot definitively say which ones are bad for you and what the long term effects are, so if that is something that concerns you, then I encourage you to look into it and base your decisions on what you use on what you learn!

Nail polish is a fun way to add some colour to your style, especially if you’re usually more conservative in how you dress. I always encourage people to go for the shades that they usually may avoid because they feel they “can’t pull it off” (unless you have workplace dress-code policies then obviously adhere to those rules!) It’s just nail polish, so why not have fun? Here are a few of my favourites: L-R: Butter London “Come to Bed Red, Sally Hansen Triple Shine “Vanity Flare”, Formula X “Continuum”, OPI “The It Color”, Nails Inc Gel Effects “Porchester Square”, Deborah Lippmann (a fellow Alpha Phi sister I just learned – thanks Chelsea B!) “Daytripper”, Chanel “Vendetta”, and OPI “Mod About You.”

What’s your favourite nail polish brand? What’s your go-to colour? Are 3-free nail polishes important to you? Let me know in the comments! Thanks so much for stopping by!

BONUS: If you’re interested in awesome nail art, check out my friend Kaitlyn’s blog!


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