The Evolution of Nail Design


From weird pastes and food dyes, to nail paint, then polish, acrylics, SNS and now nail wraps. Women (and men!) have been making their nails a statement piece of style and fashion for thousands of years.  Below we explore the timeline of nail design, and why nail wraps have become a modern evolution for quick and easy application. 


3,000 BC: 

Nail polish was invented in China! Although back then it was very different to the polish we use now. The Chinese developed colouring to glue onto their nails using egg whites, beeswax, vegetable dyes and gelatine. In both China and Egypt nail polish was used to distinguish a person’s class status. With bright reds and metallic colours alluding to high class and royalty, and nudes or light colours were worn by the lower class. 



The first American nail salon was opened in New York City! Mary Cobb opened her salon named “Mrs. Cobb’s Manicure Parlour” and charged $1.25 for a manicure. The parlour became a thriving business with the clientele ranging from socialites to prostitutes. Mrs Cobb was ahead of her time, and kicked off the period where modern nail art and pampering became a common activity. 



During World War I, the US got access to chemical patents from Germany which allowed production of pink nail polish for the first time! Nail polish was becoming a common accessory for women, with colours during this time period being inspired by automobile paint. 


1920 - 1930: 

During the early 1900’s, women started to experiment with this new form of fashion by trying out different colours and styles. In France, the ladies started a fashion trend by only painting the middle of their nail, leaving the cuticle line and the tips without paint. During the 1930’s, black nail polish became popular in England. Women of the UK were also experimenting with images on their nails, usually painting landscapes of tree’s and mountains. Due to the limited nail tools available at this time, nail art was almost a full day project!



Hold on to your hats boys and girls, and guess who first invented the acrylic nail? A dentist! Yes, you read that right. The materials used to make acrylic nails is actually the same stuff they used to fill dental cavities in the 1950’s! Acrylics were experimented with in the 50’s, but didn’t become adopted in main stream beauty practices till the late 1970’s. 


1990’s - 2000’s:

Introducing Shellac and SNS. Shellac is a gel nail, and once cured under UV light it becomes hard and long lasting. SNS (Signature nail systems) also uses a gel base and is a powder dipping system. Both options provide a hard end result similar to acrylics, and like acrylics require a lot of upkeep to ward off the natural nail re-growth. Gel nails have been known to damage natural nails, leaving them thin and unhealthy after use, and there is a lot of speculation on health hazards from regular exposure to UV light. 


2000’s to present:

Introducing our favourite, nail wraps! Nail wraps were developed as a quick and easy way to get beautiful colours and designs without the hassle, and without having to visit the nail salon. Nail wraps are made from 100% nail polish, with a thin layer of adhesive to help set the wrap onto your natural nail. And the best part, a set of nail wraps is cheaper than a regular manicure, and will leave your nails healthy and natural after use!


Visit our collections to pick your style.