History of Everyday Objects : Nail Polish

Welcome to History of Everyday Objects for D’s Art Takes. Here, we unveil the origins of life through the ages on planet Earth, by looking at the everyday objects. Today, we explore the origins of Nail Polish.

According to historic record, nail polish is said to have originated in China, around 3000 BC. At the time, it was made from a combination of ingredients such as beeswax, natural pigments of fruits and vegetables, or even egg white.

In ancient Egypt, the colour of nail paint was symbolic of where a person was placed on the societal hierarchy. Dark colours including red, were worn by royalty, while common people were often seen wearing lighter shades. Cleopatra preferred to dye her nails with henna.

The trend of using nail paint as a signifier of social status was also seen in China around 600 BC. Women of the royal family wore silver and gold tints on their nails, while common women were allowed pink and a few other colours. Apparently, wearing the wrong colour on one’s nails could cause quite the scandal.

The modern day nail polish was incidentally inspired by car paint, which was invented in the 1920s. Michelle Menard, who worked for the Charles Revson company (now Revlon), thought of using the same technique for making nail laquer. The company was the first to sell and popularise nail polish. First in beauty parlours and then at drug stores.

Diamonds on my nails : the world’s most expensive polish is Azature’s Black diamond nail polish, which actually has black diamonds in it.


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