I have this bad habit of thinking the entire history of the world revolves around me.
I mean, I know stuff existed before I was born, but I genuinely have a difficult time believing it.
I'm always shocked when I discover people living before 1983 did the same things I do today.
"People went grocery shopping in 1968?!?" I will exclaim, flummoxed. "But I wasn't even born yet!"
I'm trying to fix this perspective.
Well, when I was painting my nails the other night, I wondered if people had been painting their nails before I was born. Did nail polish exist in 1982? Or was it merely invented for my existence??
I was shocked to discover that nail art has been around...well, forever, it seems.
The history of nail art has a murky beginning.
Historians do know a form of it existed in 5000 B.C. when women in India would dye their fingertips with henna, leaving a reddish brown stain on the nails.
Nail coloring in ancient Egypt went by status. Kings and queens colored their fingernails and toenails ruby red, using solid gold manicure tools. Women of lower rank were only allowed to use pale colors.
In 600 B.C. China, nail art became a symbol of wealth as well. Men and women grew their nails to five inches long to show that they didn't have to perform manual labor for a living. Chinese royals often wore elaborate gold, silver or bamboo splints to prevent their nails from breaking.
During the Renaissance Period, nail art became fashionable again. Upper class European women rushed to get manicures, void of color.
On the other side of the world, the Incas invented nail art as we know it today, by decorating their nails with pictures of eagles!
In the 1800s, purity was all the rage. French manicures became popular (although the term "french manicure" actually wasn't coined until the 1970s). These original forms of french manicures consisted of a little lemon juice mixed with water, to whiten the tips of the nails. Also available were buffers, crystal stones, emery boards, cuticle creams, and bleaching powders.
The 1920s is when the fun began.
Automobile paint inspired nail polish enamel as we know it today. Nail salons started popping up all over the United States and Europe. Flappers invented the moon manicure, which involved painting the fingernail everywhere but the bottom.
In the 1930s, nail polish hit stores for the very first time, thanks to the newly created company, Revlon. Colors women had never seen before hit the stands. It was a phenomenon. In this decade, fake nails were invented as well.
Today, when it comes to nail art, anything goes. We not only use polish, but we use glitter, stickers, jewels, markers, and even newspaper. Blogs and fashion websites offer a vast amount of eclectic ideas and tips for colors, designs, and innovative tools.
What do you think? Are you surprised by the history of nail art?