Nail polish is a lacquer that can be applied to the human fingernail or toenails to decorate and protect the nail plates.
The formulation has been revised repeatedly to enhance its decorative effects, and to suppress cracking or flaking. Nail polish consists of a mix of an organic polymer and several other components, depending on the brand.
Nail polish originated in China and dates back to 3000 BC. Around 600 BC, during the Zhou dynasty, the royal house preferred the colors gold and silver. However, red and black eventually replaced these metallic colors as royal favorites. During the Ming dynasty, nail polish was often made from a mixture that included beeswax, egg whites, gelatin, vegetable dyes, and gum Arabic.
In Egypt, the lower classes wore pale colors, whereas high society painted their nails a reddish brown color, with henna. Mummified pharaohs also had their nails painted with henna.
Colored nail polish did not make an appearance until the 1920s. Early nail polish formulas were created using basic ingredients such as lavender oil, Carmine, oxide tin, and bergamot oil. It was more common to polish nails with tinted powders and creams, and finishing off by buffing the nail until left shiny. One type of polishing product sold around this time was Graf’s Hyglo nail polish paste.
“Nail polish is like the icing on the beauty cake” Mary Helen Bowers
Traditionally, nail polish started in clear, white, red, pink, purple, and black. Nail polish can be found in a diverse variety of colors and shades. Beyond solid colors, nail polish has also developed an array of other designs, such as crackled, glitter, flake, speckled, iridescent, and holographic. Rhinestones or other decorative art are also often applied to nail polish. Some polish is advertised to induce nail growth, make nails stronger, prevent nails from breaking, cracking/ splitting, and to even stop nail biting.