A Fascinating History of Nail Polish

Title and images from Mental Floss. Infographic text by Elizabeth Segran,
Illustrations by Julia Rothman.

I have a pretty healthy stash of nail polish. Okay, so maybe teetering on unhealthy. I like it a lot, and who can blame me? So many pretty colours. I figured a post on beauty history would be a refreshing break from my myriad product reviews as of the last month or two.

Mental Floss got around to illustrating the history of nail polish long before I even thought of doing it. Wha-bam! pictured below is Mental Floss’s infographic on the History of Nail Polish. They explain it much more eloquently than I ever could. Consider this a re-blog with some added quirk.

I’m on a nail polish kick!

nailpolishhistory

Other Fun Facts about Nail Polish

  • Car paint is the where our good old nail polish really comes from. The paint was adapted in the 1920s by makeup artist Michelle Menard (see above re: moon manicure and Revlon under “1932”). Menard worked for a company Charles Revson, which we know today as Revlon (Mental Floss)
  • Actress Tippi Hedrin, known for starring in Hitchcock’s The Birds, is the reason the 80% of nail salons in California are run by individuals of Vietnamese descent, and a whopping 51% of nail salons in the United States. Hedrin visited a Vietnamese refugee camp, recruited a beauty school to help the women in the camp, and flew her personal manicurist in to teach 20 of the ladies at the camp the art of manicures (BBC)
  • In 2012, nail polish sales hit $768 million; a 32% increase from 2011. We can very likely attribute this to a rise in the popularity of nail art (Good Housekeeping). Looks like this trend is still on an upward slope.
  • In the last decade, we’ve adapted nail polish to exclude several chemicals, including but not limited to: formaldehyde, tolulene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP). We’ve gone from 3 to 7, to 9 and everything-free. And let’s not forget the awesomeness that is water-based nail polish.
  • My nails are currently unpainted.
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