Who Invented Nail Polish? Plus Other Fascinating Facts

Red nails
Image Credit: Sofia_Zhuravets via Depositphotos.

The nail polish first showed up as far back as 1920. Today, it is a billion-dollar market.

Since its invention, nail polish has transformed hands from functional body parts to works of art. A  properly applied nail polish can send your confidence rocketing through the roof, making you express yourself in ways you couldn’t imagine.

But have you ever sat down to wonder whose brain was behind the invention of the cherished product?

Early History of Nail Art and Polish

It’s essential to know that decorating nails with art wasn’t new as of 1920.

In 3200 B.C., warriors in Babylonia manicured and colored their nails as they went to battle. The color of their nails was also used to indicate their caste and social class.

For instance, using black color on the nails could have been considered to be for a higher-ranked individual than green. 

Evidence of nail art was also found in ancient civilizations like China and Egypt. Some striking evidence found across Egypt were the remains of dead pharaohs with henna on their nails. 

All these prove that humans have always desired to look beautiful

Before the advent of modern nail polish, as we knew it in 1920, manicure products were made in powder and cream forms. The products will then be buffed onto the nails with a cloth, leaving a mild pink finish.

Some years later, during the Second World War, the US accessed German chemical patents, which they licensed to American companies. The following years saw the advent of a growing American chemical industry.

It was during this period that nitrocellulose was added to nail polish. The products gave a slight pink finish, which we call nude color now. The only other shade of the polish created was the pink-colored ones, mainly used by more eccentric women.

In the years following, darker nail polish shades began appearing on the market. The darker polish trend started in France, with Princess de Faucigny-Lucinge setting the pace after painting her nails crimson.

The Hollywood stars and the general society soon became bold in their approach to polish and started exploring different colors; pearl, gold, green. 

The exploration of colors brought several companies to the limelight, including Cutex, Glazo, Elka, and others.

Beyond making more colors available, the industry also focused on improving the products’ adhesion, glossiness, and consistency. As expected, there were several failures and mishaps on the way.

Nail Polish Nowadays

Through the development of nail polish over the years, one component has remained to date – formaldehyde. In addition, modern nail polish now features ingredients like film-forming agents, plasticizers, solvents, and pigments. 

Combining these ingredients creates the glossy shine of the polishes we all love. The ingredients also combine to make them long-lasting. 

Thanks to fashion magazines, the nail polish industry has grown considerably. Now, the wide range of colors, shades, and finishes help you switch your outlook for whatever event you’re going for.

The diversity of products has made it possible for individuals to embrace their personalities. Nowadays, proper nail care is equivalent to self-care and pampering rituals.

Social media platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram have boosted nail polish trends for enthusiasts. Videos from nail technicians and influencers have explored tutorials, reviews, and other creative efforts that generate sales for vendors and nail polish manufacturers. 

It’s worth saying that recent years have seen the alarms about how continued exposure to some conventional nail polish ingredients could harm users. A 2019 study by Harvard University measured some allergic reactions that may result from components like formaldehyde resin, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate. 

The potential issues that may result from these traditional polishes have resulted in clamors for toxic-free nail polishes. Several brands are now poised to explore these safer options.

A Word on Toxic-Free Nail Polish

The rise of toxic-free nail polishes has brought about a new period of conscious beauty efforts. While beauty is essential, being safe is more important. Companies are rising to this challenge and redefining decade-long formulas for nail polish development. 

Some efforts implemented by companies include emphasizing transparency and eco-consciousness. The search for sustainability has prompted using alternative ingredients and eco-friendly packaging materials.

4 Fascinating Facts About Nail Polish

National Nail Polish Day

Did you know there’s a designated day to celebrate everything nail polishes stand for? The 1st of June every year is National Nail Polish Day. So, if you’ve not been celebrating it since, it’s time to start. 

The National Nail Polish Day is the day to celebrate beauty enthusiasts, technicians, and individuals who make the industry move forward. The day is also to celebrate the creativity and artistry of nail polishes.

The Accidental Invention of Acrylic Nails

Do you know that the popular acrylic nails were invented mistakenly? Acrylic nails have become so popular that you wouldn’t have guessed their chance of existence.

In the 1950s, Dr. Fred Slack broke his fingernail and searched for a solution. His experiments took him around playing with dental acrylic and a mesh screen. The need to replace his broken fingernail led to the development of the first acrylic nails. 

Now, these nail options have become so popular. They are broadly known for their ability to last long while staying strong. They are also very glamorous. Who would have thought that his quick artificial fix for himself would lead to a widely used range of products nowadays? 

Nail Polish and Space Travel

If you’ve ever dreamed of going outside Earth’s atmosphere, nail polish beat you to it in 2010. 

At the time, “Orly” partnered with the Russian Federal Space Agency to develop nail polish products customized for astronauts.

The science that went into the development made these polishes different from the normal ones. The space-destined polish was developed to withstand extreme conditions. These include microgravity and high radiation. 

While the effort may seem like a waste of time, it showed how versatile and adaptable nail polishes are. If the polish can go to space, where on earth wouldn’t it follow you to?

The World’s Most Expensive Nail Polish

Nail polishes are generally affordable. However, they can also be exclusively costly. Azature has upped the ante by debuting a million-dollar white diamond white lacquer.

Selling for approximately $1,000,000 per bottle, the world’s most expensive nail polish is amazing. What’s special about the polish? The diamonds. 

The Azature White Polish is the most recent experiment conducted by the company, featuring 98 karats of broken diamonds. The broken diamonds are then covered in another 1400 hand-picked diamonds. 

The rarity of the materials used in crafting the nail polish also makes it mesmerizing. 

Azature is a company that likes exploring new techniques in manicures. They also hold the record for the second most expensive nail polish bottle, which costs $250,000 per bottle. The bottle, costing a quarter of a million, contained 267 karats of black diamonds. 

The diamonds provide an alluring and dazzling touch if you have them on your nails. 

These costly nail polish products are the height of luxury and extravagance.

Nail Polish in the Future

Nail polish has a fascinating history. The journey towards where the products are now at is also remarkable.

The product is evolving, and so do the business around. Fortunately, the companies have taken lessons from failures, and it’s excellent that toxic-free nail polish is undeniably the future of the nail polish industry.

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