For us to understand how we got to the present state of nail art, we need to look at the past.
5,000 B.C. - 600 B.C.
Apparently, and this is unconfirmed, the practice of coloring one’s nails began in India in 5,000 BC. Women would dip their fingertips in henna, thus dying them. This practice is still being followed to this day.
In China in 3,000 BC, the Chinese created a concoction of gum, gelatin, egg whites, vegetable dyes and egg whites; for pigment, crushed rose petals were added. This process was cumbersome because it took hours to complete and the pigment had to set overnight.
As time marched forward, the Chinese took nails to the next level in 600 BC. Having extremely long nails was a sign of aristocracy (one couldn’t work in the field with such extended digital appendages) and the need to protect them fashionably led to gold and silver nail guards. This was the original “nail bling.”
The 1800s - 1900s
In the Dark Ages survival seemed to dominate versus beauty allure. In the 1800’s and 1900’s, manicures made a comeback. The Victorian Era ushered in the trend of lightly rose-tinted nails with tips brightened by lemon juice. The nails were buffed to a shine with chamois and were symbolic of purity, hygiene and transparent inner beauty.
In the 1920's when the flappers arrived on the scene, they brought with them the trends of glamorous red nails and moon manicures.
Then in 1932, Revlon introduced the first commercially available nail polish. Inspired by automobile paint, “nail enamel” coated the nails versus staining them. It offered an economical arrow to women’s fashion quiver during the Depression.
Photo above - second photo in the slider: The bottle shown above, found on eBay via Pinterest, is Revlon's Hildegarde Rose from 1939.
The 1930s - 1950s
From the 1930’s – 50’s, the first artificial nails and the acrylic sculpted nails were introduced to women for those who had trouble growing or keeping manicured nails of their own. The 1960’s saw the rise of pastel shades for nails as the beauties of the era kept their hair and nails more natural in appearance.
By the 1970's, long artificial nails were all the rage in the USA. Jeff Pink started the “the French Manicure” for busy Hollywood starlets. This became a huge global nail trend and remains a classic to this day.
The 1980’s were all about shocking hues with neon yellows, hot fuschias and bright blues in style during the decade of excess.
The 1990’s reigned in the nail color palette, but the grunge trend came to life via young women coloring their nails with chipped black nails, filled in with black Sharpie marker.
The 2000s saw the rise in all kinds of nail textures, colors and trends.
Nails have become part of an outfit or an expression of one’s persona during the past several years.
CND introduced the first gel nail polish in 2008 (i.e., the two-week manicure). And with the advent of Pinterest and Instagram, DIY nail art has BOOMED.
See the slideshow: Strange Nail Art
Whatever your taste or style is, it is very clear that in 2018 and the near future, anything goes (as illustrated in the slideshow at the link above).
Nails are another personal vehicle that we can leverage as self-expression. Nothing seems to be off-limits, but at the same time, restraint is equally as welcome.