Highlights From the History of Nail Art

by Holly Schippers | June 29, 2018 | Bookmark +

If you joined #BFFmel and me for the June Facebook Live broadcast, thank you! If you missed it, never fear the recap from Mel is here!

In our May edition of Nail On with Holly & Mel, we covered the history of nail care, and we had so much great information to cover, we couldn’t get to nail art without having our broadcast go for more than two hours!

We asked our viewers if they would like us to discuss nail art, and the response was a resounding YES! I enjoyed doing the research for this broadcast, but I did get a little bit frustrated when I couldn’t find exact names, dates, and places for the origination for many of the techniques online. So we turned to social media to ask for any information nail pros could provide. Thank you to all of you that helped with the research!

Here are some highlights of nail art history:

  • In Greek mythology Eros, the god of attraction and the son of Aphrodite (Roman counterpart is Cupid) is considered to be the first “manicurist.” He cut Aphrodite’s fingernails while she was sleeping and scattered them across the beaches of Earth. Seeing what had transpired, the Fates collected the clippings and turned them into the semi-precious stone Onyx — that is the Greek word for fingernail and it’s related to the nail disease root: onycho.
  • 1925 - a British company, Asprey, created an art deco-style set of complete coverage gold nails.
  • 1958 - an Ohio woman created a “laminated patterned-textile” nail cover, similar to today’s appliques.
  • 1960s - bright colors and solid white nails decorated with geometric patterns were popular for the “out-to-there” nails. Polish sold by the Fabergé Company.
  • 1973 - male rock stars like Lou Reed started wearing black polish.
  • 1980 - Mainly Manicuring magazine published.
  • 1983 - NAILS Magazine published.
  • 1985 - NailPro Magazine published.
  • 1988 - NAILS Magazine reported that there was a broadening niche of nail art not limited to: nail polish, striping tape, striping brushes, rhinestones, pearls, semi-precious stones, gold nuggets, gold and diamond charms, decals, lace, hand painting, free-hand and stenciled airbrushing, gel art, marbling, snake skins, feathers, seashells, cameos, 3-D art and 3-D molds.
  • 1984 and 1988 – Track star and Olympian Florence Griffith-Joyner, “Flo Jo,” received almost as much attention for her 2-inch nails, decorated with red, white and blue, as she did for her track performance.
  • In 1990 Essence magazine reported: “Gone are the days of long dragon-lady nails, decals, 14k gold tips, rhinestones and sculptured nails with painted scenery.”

Origins of:

  • Airbrushing – 1970s
  • Foils – 1970s
  • Crystals – 1970s
  • 3D acrylic – Japan (the most it could be narrowed down)
  • Stamping – Konad 2002 Korea for DIYers
  • Minx nail wraps – 2007
  • Chrome, workable cosmetic grade powered – Lauren Wireman of Wildflowers Nail Art 2016

Social Media contributes to nail art:

  • BeautyTech started by Debbie Doerrlamm pioneered nail techs online - July 1994
  • NAILS history of nail care – 2003 (slideshow here)
  • YouTube - 2005
  • NAILS Nail Art Gallery - February 2010
  • Pinterest started beta testing - March 2010
  • Instagram - October 2010
  • Nailgasm video - 2012
  • CNN says nail art is the new lipstick - 2012
  • Blog featuring nail art on Pinterest - 2012
  • NAILS blogs
  • Healthy Tech Talk - 2008
  • Maggie Franklin Maggie Rants and Raves - 2009
  • FingerNailFixer - 2011
  • Mani cam debut - 2012 Emmy Awards
  • NAILS story on the modern manicure – 2014
  • #NailOn with Holly and Mel - 2018

Join us on Monday!
Please be sure to join us for a Bonus Broadcast on July 2 on the NAILS Magazine Facebook page focusing on the Foot Forward Summit with any of your event questions! We will have travel tips and more ready to share.

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