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The Evolution of Nail Polish: From Ancient China to Modern Day


Nail polish is a staple in the beauty industry, with countless colors and finishes to choose from. But where did it all begin? Let's take a journey through time and explore the evolution of nail polish from ancient China to modern day.

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The history of nail polish can be traced back to ancient China in 3000 BC. During this time, royals would color their nails with a stain made from a combination of gum arabic, gelatin, beeswax, and egg whites. The colors used during this time included gold and silver. These colors were seen as a symbol of status and wealth.

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Jumping ahead to the 1800s, we see a more modern version of nail polish being invented in France. The first polish was made by mixing natural pigments with nitrocellulose cotton and alcohol. This not only gave nails a shiny appearance but also provided a protective layer to nails.

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It wasn't until the 1920s that red became a sought-after color for nail polish. This was due in part to the emergence of lipsticks in the same color, which became popular thanks to the silent film industry. The trend of coordination between lips and nails has carried on to this day.

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The 1960s and 70s brought about bold, colorful, and even neon nail polish hues. This was a time of free expression and defiance against the status quo. As it became more common for women to enter the workforce, nail polish became a part of the attire, which went on to include military uniforms as well.

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The 1990s saw the birth of nail art. Nail artists began using polish as a canvas to create intricate designs and patterns that went beyond a simple coat of color. Consumers themselves tried this trend at home, giving rise to the sale of nail polish and nail art accessories in stores.

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Nowadays, nail polish companies offer a wide variety of finishes including matte, holographic, glitter, and chrome. Nail polish also come with benefits such as quick drying time, long-lasting, and vegan-friendly formulas. With all these options, nail polish has become a key component of everyday beauty routines.


It is fascinating to see the journey of nail polish from its beginnings as a symbol of wealth and power to an everyday accessory. Its evolution tells us that fashion has and always will be a reflection of society's beliefs and values. With so many colors and finishes to choose from, nail polish allows us to express ourselves creatively.

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