Natural Nails

A Wrap in Time: History of the Nail Wrap

Whether linen, paper, silk, or fiberglass, chances are you’ve seen or done a wrap before. But have you ever thought about its humble beginnings? We decided to take a trip back in time to track the origins of wraps and see how far they’ve come.

It seems that as long as nail care has been around, innovative and enterprising people have found ways to create and improve upon a previous invention. Take wraps. As early as the 1920s, women would mend their broken nails by applying strips of teabags or coffee filters over their nails. Over the years, these primitive methods were improved upon, resulting in new and better ways of wrapping nails.

Many people may not give these small strips of mesh the credit it deserves, so we felt it was time to put wraps in the spotlight. From overlays and repairs to sculpting, wraps have a variety of uses long before lightweight acrylic products made it big, wraps were the artificial nails of choice. And with the natural nail craze in full swing, it’s a perfect time to include wraps in your service menu. With that in mind, we thought it’d be interesting to take a look back and trace the origins of this delicate-looking — yet surprisingly strong — nail aid.

1920s — Long before fiberglass and silk wraps hit the market, nail techs had creative ways of mending broken nails. It wasn’t unusual to use teabags coffee filters, or Duco cement, to fix a nail.

1950s — Juliette Marglen markets a wrap kit resembling a matchbook with the material in sheets. Only the top third of the nail is covered. This method known as a Juliette Manicure, is touted as a natural nail enhancement.

1970s — Nail technician Jo Livingston remembers applying full sets of nails at a trade show. These “nail sculpturists” rely on paper forms.

Donna Kohl, a Boise, Idaho-based nail technician, says cigarette and perm papers reinforced with airplane glue replaced teabags and coffee filters strengthening nails.

1976 — Carol Cullen Page obtains a patent on the Nalepaper a nail wrapping kit that includes precut strips of tissue that go over the nail folding over the tip.                  

1981 — Nail tech Brenda Guss, president of Linen Batiste Nails, begins marketing linen wraps.

1983 — Harper’s Bazaar recommends several methods for women who can’t grow long nails naturally, including silk wraps.

Nail tech Becky Lynn (founder of Becky Lynn Company, now known as Imagina Corp.) begins marketing strips of self-adhesive woven material on nails after her doctor advises her against using acrylic products.

1984 — In response to the sometime messy, smelly procedures of the 1970s and 1980s, Jack and Michael Megna of Backsratchers Salon Systems decide to develop a solution of the problem. After more than a year of product research and development, their fiberglass system makes its debut. Clients love the fact that this new wrap system is light, strong, and flexible.

NAILS spotlights silk and linen wraps. Nail tech Barbara Fertel claims 75% of her clientele has been wearing silk wraps since she began offering them in her salon two years prior. NAILS also claims that linen wraps are one of the newest and hottest products sweeping the country.

Soft Touch, a major manufacturer of silk, fiberglass, and linen wraps, unveils the Nail Wrap File. The two-sided file will not fray nail wrap threads and is designed to remove excess bonded wrap from the nail.

1991 — Star Nail’s Tony Cuccio poses for an ad in which he claims he’s “keeping the world under wraps.”

1992 — Nail techs and clients alike continue to turn to wraps as a way to strengthen their natural nails. The going rate for a full set of wraps is $38.06. Innovations and improvements such as precut strips of fabric, stronger resins, and adhesives make applying wraps easier than ever.

1993 — The Nail Manufacturers Council promotes the benefits of professional nail care to the consumer beauty press. Fiberglass wrap nails are among the nail enhancements presented to the consumer beauty press.

1998 — After years of riding on a perennial high, artificial anything seems to be losing favor with the public. Natural ingredients are hot, prompting nail techs to boost the demand for wraps by billing them as “enhancers” of natural nails.

Soft Touch unveils Cutterz, scissors made especially for cutting wraps.

2001 — In keeping in line with the natural nail phenomenon sweeping the nation, INM takes a cue from the past and unveils its paper wraps, Juliette Natural Nail Wraps.

2003 — OPI unveils MicroWrap FutureFiber Nail Wrap system. The system claims to be the first nail wrap fabric infused with accelerator for simultaneous sub-surface and surface curing.

2004 — According to NAILS 2003-2004 Big Book, 47% of salons offer silk wraps while 49% offer fiberglass. The average service price for a full set of wraps has increased to $40.91.

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