Nails have enjoyed a place in the entertainment spotlight since the late 19th century. Enjoy this walk of fame in our history.
1879 American Hairdresser, the first beauty trade magazine (which would later become American Salon), published its premiere issue.
1899 Before going on to become one of the most prolific silent film stars of the early 20th century, Bebe Daniels stars in the stage production of “The Manicure Girl.”
1920 Screen stars favour a waif-like look, with short hair and slender figures. Nails are still unpolished, but the coming development of automotive paint paves the way for today’s nail enamels.
1922 Beauty Culture magazine publishes its first issue in New York.
1925 A sheer, rosy nail polish enters the market, sparking what Beatrice. Kaye, manicure,” in which the free edge and the lunula are left bare.
1929 Prima ballerina Anna Pavlowa graces a 1929 Cutex polish ad.
1930 Ladies of the silver screen popularize cosmetics, including nail polishes. The overall look is one of cool sophistication and elegant, immaculate grooming. The moon manicure thrives in various intensities of red.
1932 The cover of the December 17th issue of Collier’s magazine features a man getting a manicure.
1933 Actress Dorothy Hess is one of the first to experiment with an electric manicure set introduced at the American Beauty & Styles exposition.
Late 1930s (exact year unknown) –The original “manicurist to the stars,” Beatrice Kaye does the nails of Clark Gable at MGM Studios in the late 1930s.
1940 A cartoon illustration of a manicure in progress appears on the cover of the May 18th edition of The Saturday Evening Post.
1940 Rita Hayworth’s long, red nails reshape fashion longer than previously fashionable, Hayworth favors a softer, oval shape and polished her glamorous look of a worldly seductress in red.
1950 A Vogue ad promotes a kit containing nail polish, lipstick, and lip liner for $1.60.
1968 A Seventeen cover girl features active-length nails polished in a light frost-not too different that what you might see on the magazine’s cover today.
1968 Madge the Manicurist represents dishwashing liquid Palmolive in a series of ad campaigns, allowing the spokeswoman to reach iconic status around the globe.
1980 Salons began receiving Mainly Manicuring, a trade newspaper for the nail industry.
1980 ‘80s “Dynasty” legacy includes pads, and long—very long—nails.
1983 Harper’s Bazaar recommends tips, silk wraps, and sculptured nails for women who can’t grow long nails naturally. Glamour, meanwhile, deems “straight-sided and slightly rounded on top” nails as “the healthiest, most flattering nail shape.” And Vogue reports that women that spring would warm to deep coral, soft pink, mauve, and red polished.
1983 NAILS Magazine publishes its premiere issue in February, whose cover features classic red nails on fingers that are holding a pot of gold.
1993 Programs like “Trend Watch” are a new Nail Manufacturers Council initiative to promote the benefits of professional nail care to the consumer beauty press.
1993 Olympic sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner—known for her wildly decorated long nails—graces the cover of the February issue of NAILS.
1994 Appearing on spring fashion runways and in the film “Pulp Fiction” (Uma Thuman’s character wears it), Chanel shakes up the polish scene with Vamp, a near-black polish that sells out in stores nationwide.
1995 Following the lead of professional hair product companies, nail marketers woo consumers with advertisements in leading consumer magazines, such as Vogue, Redbook. And Elle.
1999 The first of author Nancy J Cohen’s “Bad Hair Day Mysteries” series, which include “Murder by Manicure” and “Perish by Pedicure,” is published.
2000 Fifty years in the making, the world’s longest fingernails go up for auction; the Guinness world record holder for the past 20 years claims exhaustion from the care required for her nails.
2000s Gwen Stefani, Missy Elliot, and Janet Jackson (among others) are seen in videos with long, decorated enhancements.
2000s Creative Nail Design participates in many celebrity-focused events like fashion shows, and publishes its annual Fashion Focus (left), a minimagazine that takes fashion from the runways and translates it into realistic nail styles.
2000s Essie, Orly, OPI, and Creative Nail Design (among others) do manicures and pedicures for celebrities at events in conjunction with the Oscars, Grammys, Sundance Film Festival, and more.
Shown above, Orly techs Elsbeth Schuetz, Kristi Mane Jones, and Gloria Christie, dole out manicures at the annual Cabana Oscar Beauty Buffet.
2001 Aspiring lawyer Elle Woods refreshes her nails and her psyche at her local nail salon in the hit movie “Legally Blonde.” OPI boasts a major screen presence in this blockbuster.
2003 OPI releases its “Legally Blonde Red, White and Blonde” nail lacquers in conjunction with the release of the film of the same name.
2004 The move “Ocean’s Twelve” is released, featuring several scenes that had been filmed in Chicago salon Fingers & Toes. Salon owner Kristin Luu is shown here with star Bernie Mac.
2004 Entertain Paula Abdul goes on a crusade against unsafe nail salons after the Grammy-winning singer and American Idol judge says she caught an infection from an unsanitary manicure.
2004 Rapper Foxy Brown allegedly attacks two manicurists in Manhattan over $20 bill she refused to pay.
2007 Foxy Brown allegedly throws hair glue at a Pembroke Pines, Fla beauty supply store employee after she’s asked to leave the store because it’s closed.
2007 Two polish colors in Essie Cosmetics’ Starting Over collection are created in partnership with USA Network’s mini-series. “The Starter Wife,” staring Debra Messing. Wife Goes On is a bold true ted, while Starter Wife is a sheer pink.