Fact File: Who invented Nail Polish? Invention: Nail Polish *** Date of Invention: c. 3000 BC *** Name of Inventor: Unknown *** Historical Period: Neolithic China (c. 3000 – c. 1900 BC) *** Country of Origin: Ancient China *** The Invention of
Nail Polish ***
Fact 1: Who invented Nail Polish? The name of the inventor of
Nail Polish is unknown but it is believed to have been invented c. 3000 BC during the Neolithic China
era of inventions (c. 3000 – c. 1900 BC).
Fact 2: Who invented Nail
Polish? The invention of Nail Polish emerged when long nails were
considered to be a status symbol and an indicator of wealth. People who worked
as manual laborers or who were constantly involved in light tasks were not able
to keep their nails long - they broke off far too easily.
Fact 3: Who
invented Nail Polish? Anyone with long nails clearly did not have to
work for a living, so long, well cared for nails became a much envied status
Fact 4: Who invented Nail Polish? The Ancient Chinese
began wearing Nail Polish as a cosmetic c. 3000 BC and used a mixture of
different ingredients to create a suitable polish and colorings for nails.
Fact 5: Who invented Nail Polish?
At first nail polish was used as a cosmetic by varying social classes but
c.600BC it began to be used to denote social status and only Emperors and
privileged members of the Chinese royal family were only allowed to use Black
and Red colors to represent boldness and strength, everyone else was allowed to
wear lighter shades.
Fact 6: Who invented Nail Polish?
Black nail varnish, especially, was extremely difficult, time consuming and
expensive to produce. Various plants, fruits and flowers were used as colorants.
The South China Rhododendron, indigo and ebony fruit provide natural dyes for
black coloring. Other colors were derived from the petals of Orchids, Sumac, the
Rose and Impatiens flowers.
Fact 7: Who invented
Nail Polish? The formula to create Chinese Nail Polish include
various ingredients such as the acacia gum (Gum Arabic), gelatin, beeswax and
Fact 8: Who invented Nail Polish? Acacia gum (Gum Arabic) functioned
as a binder, to increase luminosity and helped to prevent colors from
lightening. Gelatin, a thin translucent membrane, was included in the formula to
thin pigments and produce different color effects. Egg whites were used to
provide shine and firmness. Beeswax was added to the formula to strengthen nails
and to forestall splitting and cracking. The bark of the Pomegranate tree was
also used to make nail polish because it contained high amounts of tannin for
Fact 9: Who invented Nail Polish? With the elevation of wearing
nail polish c.600BC, the Ancient Chinese of the Shang dynasty invented false
nails, or guards, to emphasize the social standing and status of the Chinese
Empress, female royalty, noblewomen and concubines. The Chinese false nails, up
to 5 inches long, were extremely expensive and made of gold and silver and
inlaid with gemstones to create various designs.
Fact 10: Who invented Nail Polish? Other ancient civilizations
including the Mesopotamians and the Ancient Egyptians also wore nail polish
during the same time period.
Fact 11: Who invented Nail Polish? The
Ancient Egyptians used a form of henna to paint their nails also as an
indication of social status. Henna was a dye obtained from the leaves and shoots
of the henna shrub which was readily available in Egypt. The dried and ground
henna leaves were worked into a paste with water on a special palette to make
Fact 12: Who invented Nail Polish? Henna was used to stain the
fingers and toes of Pharaohs and great nobles prior to mummification and traces
of Ancient Egyptian nail polish has been found on the nails of mummified
pharaohs. The statues of Ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses were adorned with
all different types of Makeup and cosmetics, including
Fact 13: Who invented Nail Polish? Tombs of ancient Babylonians of
Mesopotamia have been found to contain solid gold manicure tools together with
evidence that kohl was used to create the black nail polish.
Fact 14: Who invented Nail Polish? The practice of painting nails
was also adopted by the Ancient Greeks and the Romans but was abandoned by the
later civilizations who lived during the Dark Ages and the early Middle Ages
when the wearing of cosmetics and nail polish was deemed to be immoral.
Fact 15: Who invented Nail Polish? The practice of painting nails
in various colors completely disappeared but women in the 19th century did shine
their nails with a cloth and oil and some even used tinted powders and creams on
their nails, before buffing them to create a shiny look.
Fact 16: Who invented Nail Polish? The 1920's heralded the Roaring
Twenties and the era of the free spirited 'Flappers' who shocked society by
wearing mascara, lipstick, face powder, rouge and nail polish.
Fact 17: Who invented Nail Polish? The commercialization of the
product began when the automobile was invented and enamels
were used to paint cars. The new enamels of the 1920's inspired French makeup
artist Michelle Menard who was working with the Charles Revson company to create
an enamel paint that could be applied to fingernails.
Fact 18: Who invented Nail Polish? The Charles Revson company
changed its name to Revlon and started selling the first commercial nail polish
Fact 19: Who invented Nail Polish? Movie Stars took to wearing the
product and the 1939 movie 'The Women' features wealthy women visiting an
exclusive beauty salon that was selling a new color called 'Jungle Red'.
Fact 20: Who invented Nail Polish? Much as women liked to emulate
Hollywood Movie stars this was not possible when WW2 erupted (1939 - 1945) when
everything was rationed. This was not the time to wear makeup, nail polish and
cosmetics went out of fashion, except for powder and lipstick until the
liberating period of the 1960's when the conservative attitudes of previous
decades were abandoned and independent women in the Swinging Sixties once again
turned to the use of cosmetics and Pop Art influenced the fantastic range of
colorings for nails.
Fact 21: Who invented Nail Polish? In the 70’s, the American Jeff
Pink founded the Orly company and, using acrylics, created a special manicure
with the tips in pristine white called the 'French manicure'.