Nail polish is a cosmetic product for decorating and protecting fingernails and toenails. The formulation contains an organic polymer with various additives, depending on the product’s effect and purpose. Usually the nail polish is applied in several layers for more durability and saturation of the color.
It is believed that the first nail polish appeared around 5000 years in China and was used to distinguish classes in society. It was a mixture of various natural ingredients, mostly- beeswax, egg whites, gelatin and vegetable dyes. Only wealthy people with status in society were allowed to color their nails in order to demonstrate their superiority. That’s why the most preferred colors for nail polish were those of the precious metals - gold and silver, later replaced by red and black which remain classics. Common people who dared to imitate the practice of nail painting were punished by death.
From China nail polish spread across India, Middle East and North Africa, where it was extensively used by ancient Egyptians. The favorite color of Queen Nefertiti was red and Cleopatra squeezed the juice of the plant Henna to get the specific rusty- gold color. In ancient Babylon nail polish was used mainly by men who painted their nails black or green (depending on the class) before they went to war.
Over the centuries, the use of nail polish remained a part of beauty treatments of peoples from all over the world. However, after the fall of the Roman Empire, its popularity in Europe faded and it was revived during the Renaissance, thanks to trade connections with the Middle East and India. Then the first portraits with distinct nail polish appeared, and in the Victorian era the carefully shaped and colored nails established their selves as a trend again.
By the turn of 19th century nail polish became more common among population in France and United States, but it was in the early 20th century when nail polish became truly popular, with manicure establishments appearing in France at great numbers.The aim of people, however, was to achieve more glossy nail cover. People rubbed on their nails all sorts of tinted powders and creams and then buffed them to shine. In 1911 the first cuticle removing solution appeared and in 1916- the first completely colorless nail polish.
After the invention of the automotive paint, in 1917 the first industrially produced nail polish appeared. Several years later the Revson brothers together with the chemist Charles Lachman and the makeup artist Michelle Menard founded "Revlon" which is still among the most popular cosmetic companies in the world. Thanks to the innovative formula based on herbs and ingredients in the automotive paints, their nail polish was long lasting and easy to store without losing its properties for months. So, the new nail polish was released successfully for sale in 1932, first in beauty salons, and then in stores.
Today, the formulation of the nail polish is almost unchanged. Only its durability and drying time are significantly improved, as well as the color range- highly enriched. Originally, fashion required lip color to match with that of nails. And because lipsticks were mostly red and pink nail polish was also red or pink. In the 1960 years the natural vision became fashionable and as lips remained usually uncovered, the production of clear nail polish began.
In the 1990s, however, the idea of combining the colors of lips and nails remain in the past and nail polishes in all colors of the rainbow flooded the market. Especially modern were the neon colors, the nail polishes with special effects, the lacquers that can be baked and those lasting several weeks - a matter of choice and opportunity.