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The History of Nail Care from Ancient Times to Recent Trends

Updated on July 9, 2012

The history of nail care reveals some intriguing facts. It was a part of aristocracy and a symbol of status in ancient times. It was in the nineteenth century that nail care started to become a part of fashion and glamour. Today nail salons all over the world offer various nail care services and plenty of nail care products are available for use in home but it still in some way reflects that symbolism of aristocracy and status.

Nail Care History in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian manuscripts reveal that women at that time used henna (also known as mehendi) to polish their nails. The colors however determined the class and status. Royal people choose their own color and normal people were not allowed to use those colors. At the time of Queen Nefertiti, royals would wear red nail colors to symbolize their status. It is also said that the great queen Cleopatra always wore rusty red color on her nails and at the time she ruled Egypt, the color was only reserved for the queen.

Nail Care History in Ancient China

In ancient china finger nails also played a great role in defining noble people. People of high status grew long nails to show their status and the color of the nail would reveal the social class. In Chou Dynasty (600 B.C.), Gold and Silver colors were worn by people of highest ranks and status. People below them wore black and red colors on their nails. Normal people were only allowed to use pale color tones. Gold and silver color indicated highest rank and power whereas black and red were symbols of strength and boldness and pale tones would have indicated feebleness.

History of Nail Care in the Nineteenth Century

With the social and technological developments, new tools for nail care began to emerge in Europe. In 1830 a foot doctor named Sitts invented a wooden manicure tool. Before that metal rod, acid, scissors etc. were used for manicure. Almond shaped nails or slightly pointed nail styles were popular at that time.

In 1890’s these trends reached United States. Soon many salons started to offer nail care services to women. But mostly nail care was a personal thing; women usually took care of their nails by themselves.

History of nail Care in the Twentieth Century

In the beginning of Twentieth century nail care and nail polish become hugely popular by courtesy of glamorous Hollywood film stars. New companies were coming in the market with new nail care tools and techniques. New nail paints and shades arrived together with polish removers, nail protectors and other tools that made it possible to choose any style at any time and complement the overall dress up with a matching nail color. At that time manicure was done in barber shops not in beauty salons.

1970’s was the era of artificial nails. These nails looked real, were usually long and worn by the rich. Soon nail drills were introduced to use on acrylic nails. Nail charms, gold nails as well as nail art were getting popular. Then French manicure arrived in the market and it was ruled the manicure industry during the 90’s. Nail salon business bloomed at that time and many new nail salons in New York and in other states started to offer an array of manicure services.

Recent Trends

With the beginning of twenty-first century, pedicure entered the nail care industry. And the nail care industry continued to blossom. In the year 2000, there were fifty thousand nail salons throughout the U.S. which now has doubled since. Now, most nail salons offer different types of manicure and pedicure services for both men and women as boys are also getting interested in nail care and styles. The choice of color and shades are endless and the process has become safer for nails than it was 10-15 years ago.

Today, in nail style, anything goes and the women consider nails as an essential part of their overall professional outlook.


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      Maggie Migide 

      17 months ago

      Kerry Washington

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      karen joy dela cruz 

      3 years ago

      nichole angel

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      9 years ago

      Interesting hub. Have a look into some of the nail styles popular with young women in Japan today for an eye-popper!


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