Think a set of perfectly polished nails is dy­namite? You’re not far from the truth, says Peter Alexander, CEO of Tevco Inc., a polish manufacturer that supplies nail polish to other manufacturers. According to Alexander, the cosmetics industry owes a debt of gratitude to the burgeoning automotive industry of about 70 years ago, and a New Jersey munitions company. The “war to end all wars” was over, and the market ended for a huge inventory of nitrocellulose (which at that time was used for making armaments). Fortunately, someone discovered that nitrocellulose, treated properly, could be transformed into a hard and glossy enamel. Just the thing to help Ford and its competitors paint an automobile quickly And, in the highly entrepreneurial 1920s, it didn’t take long for other applications to follow. Among them was the harnessing of nitrocellulose in nail polish. And the rest, ladies and gentlemen, is history.

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