A History of Nail Care
A History of Nail Care
Article originally published in NAILS Magazine, copyright 2004. Used with permission
1800 Almond shaped nails, short and slightly pointed are the ideal. Nails are sometimes tinted with scented red oil and buffed with a chamois cloth.
1830 In Europe, a foot doctor named Sitts develops the orange wood stick (adapted from a dental tool) for nails. Before this invention, metal tools, acid and scissors were used to manicure nails.
1892 Dr Sitts' niece brings nail care to women, and the Sitts method reaches the United States. Salons spread and cater to women of different incomes.
1900 Women clip their nails with metal scissors and file their nails with metal files. Tinted creams or powders are massaged into the nails to create shine. A glossy nail varnish is available and is applied with a camel-hair brush, but it wears off in a day.
1904 The Barber Supply Association of America, which becomes the Barber and Beauty Supply Institute in 1921, holds its first convention at the World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, at which, manufacturers and distributors meet and develop business relationships.
1910 'Flowery Manicure Products' is established in New York City. The company manufactures metal nail files and invents and introduces the 'emery board' - garnet abrasive on a wood centre.
1914 Anna Kindred of North Dakota files a patent for a fingernails shield, a covering to protect nails from discolouring while the wearer works with chemicals or other discolouring agents.
1917 "Don't cut the cuticle!" warns a November 'Vogue' advertisement. "Instead", suggests Dr W G Korony of Louisville, Kentucky, "employ the Simplex Method of Home Manicuring - requires no tools." The Simplex Sample Manicuring Outfit includes "Cuticle Remover, Nail Polish, Nail Enamel, Nail Whitener, Orange Stick, Emery Board and a Booklet of Home Manicuring Lessons."
Women buff their nails with cake, paste or powder. One formulation is Hyglo Nail Polish, claiming to be brilliant, lasting and waterproof.
1920 Screen stars are known for a total look that is almost childlike, with short hair and slender figures. Nails are still unpolished, but soon the development of automobile paint provides the basis for fingernail paint.
1921 The National Hairdressers Association - later to become the National Hairdressers and Cosmetologists Association, and then the National Cosmetology Association - is formed.
1924 The Association of Accredited Cosmetology Schools [AACS] is founded. It's a non-profit organisation created to bring together all facets of the cosmetology industry, and to further education in cosmetology arts and sciences.
1925 Nail polish enters the market in a sheer rosy red shade and is applied only to the centre of the nail. The moon and the free edge are left colourless. The mid-'20s and '30s are the age of what Beatrice Kaye, manicurist at MGM, calls the "moon manicure." The cuticles are cut, the free edges filed into points, and polish applied to the nail but not to the moon. Sometimes the tip is left uncovered as well. However, etiquette books of the time warn women against painting their nails with "garish colours."
1927 Max Factor introduces Society Nail Tint. A small porcelain pot containing rose-coloured cream. Applied to the nail and buffed, it gives a natural rose colour. Society Nail White also hits the market. It's a tube of chalky white liquid that's applied under the nail tips and left to dry. The end result resembles the modern day French Manicure. Max Factor also offers cuticle cream and cuticle remover.
1929 Polish with perfume is introduced, but its popularity is short-lived.
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