Nail art is a creative way to paint, decorate, enhance, and embellish the nails. It is a type of artwork that can be done on fingernails and toenails, usually after manicures or pedicures. Manicures and pedicures are beauty treatments that trim, shape, and polish the nails.
The exact origin of nail treatments is unclear, since it appears to have originated in different parts of the world around the same time. In ancient Egypt, from 5000 to 3000 BC, women would dye their nails with henna to indicate social status and seductiveness. Women of the lower class wore pastel and neutral shades, while the upper classes wore deep, bright shades. In Babylonia, 3200 BC, men, not women, painted their nails with black and green kohl, an ancient cosmetic. To prepare for war, warriors of Babylon spent hours having their nails prepared, hair curled, and other similar beauty treatments.
As in ancient Egypt, nail color indicated one’s status, black for noblemen and green for the common man. Around the same time, 3000 BC, the first nail polish originated in ancient China. It was made from beeswax, egg whites, gelatin, vegetable dyes, and gum arabic. Chinese dipped their nails in this mixture for several hours or left it on to dry. Colors ranged from pink to red, depending on the mixture of the ingredients. The first actual record of nail art was from the short-lived Inca Empire (1438-1533), which at that time was one of the largest empires in South America.
The nail-care industry has been growing like never before ever since the invention of modern nail polish. In 2012, the United States witnessed a surging popularity of nail art. in the same year, a short nail-art documentary was released: “NAILgasm”. The film explored the growing trend of nail art, from women across the world to high-fashion runways. Mostly women, but also men commonly use YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest to learn how to do the newest and most interesting designs at home.In some cultures, nail art can be tied to the concept of femininity and the sense of belonging in a group of females. Nail art is also a way to create its own identity through fashion, using colours and shapes as a disruption of childhood and entering to the female teen/adult world, also leaving the influence of their parents to create their own selves.
Nail art’s popularity in media started with printed press with women magazines. It had an important role, but it was not a mainstream fashion trend before the 2000s. After the internet age and the common use of the social media, the trend became major subculture among women. Social media made it easier to connect to the mass audience, and with this, people started to share their designs as a way of their creativity and use the nail as their blank canvas. YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter are the major platforms, which provide many new ideas and designs for the subculture.