Nail art has become an international phenomenon and many are using their fingernails as a canvas to display creativity and personality. Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest are overflowing with people showing off their latest and at times, impossibly intricate designs. The important question is where did it all begin and how has the colour of your fingernails become just as, if not more important than the outfit you are wearing?
The history of nail polish and nail art dates back to 3000BC in China, India and Egypt. Plants were processed to create a dye that was used as a type of nail enamel, this was then applied and represented social class and wealth; deep colours such as red were worn by the rich and lighter paler colours were used by the poor. The Inca civilization even went as far as painting intricate animals on their nails to demonstrate which tribe they belonged to!
It wasn’t until the early 19th century that nail enamel was modernised into the nail polish that we see and know of today. The boom of the automobile industry introduced a wide selection of paints and colours which were soon adapted to be used on nails. The classic “moon manicure” was created and Revlon changed the colour recipe promoting pigments instead of dyes which further escalated the nail polish industry’s success.
It was only a matter of time before nail polish became a statement of personality and creativity. Rock, punk and goth groups wore black nail polish and the colour of your nails communicated the subculture you belonged to. Today, nail art is fully integrated into the fashion world, the application of gems, airbrushing, fine detail and nail extensions means that they can complete any look.
I personally love changing the colour and pattern of my nails to finish off my outfit and rather than seeing it as a chore I enjoy creating new designs. There is plenty of inspiration on the internet and with the latest introduction of metallic nail wraps everyone can get a professional finish in half the time!