A history of nail polish and manicures

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Many people enjoy getting manicures and buying nail polish. Being pampered or treated with extra attention and care is something humans enjoy, perhaps more than they care to admit. There are many books and kits for kids and adults learning how to create their own nail art with intricate and detailed designs. But using nail polish to adorn your hands is not a modern thing. Nail art actually started thousands of years ago in ancient times.

A Guardian article titled “From Ancient Egypt to Cardi B: A Cultural History of Manicures” explained that ancient Egyptians decorated their fingernails with henna and gold paint. In addition to the Egyptians, Indian women and Babylonian men also used objects to decorate their nails. The article pointed out that “Chinese women dip their fingernails in a combination of egg whites, gelatin, beeswax and flower petal dyes; roses and orchids were the most popular. The result was shiny reddish-pink tinted nails. Long, colorful talons—usually worn with highly decorative nail guards created with hammered brass sheets encrusted with semi-precious stones—were an indication of wealth and social status. Red is considered a lucky color in China, so women’s nail color and design has made a significant fashion statement.

People may like to get manicures or nails done at home because they want to look good, but nail polish has greater economic and cultural significance. Getting manicures and pedicures keeps nail salons open and helps employ people. There are many immigrants in the United States of America. For these immigrants, English is their second language and most jobs in the American workforce require people to be fluent in standard American English. However, giving someone a manicure or pedicure doesn’t involve a lot of talking. People who may not be fluent in English can instead rely on being good at manual labor in living rooms, putting food on the table for their families. It is important to recognize that all jobs in the American workforce are important, and that the economy survives and thrives on people who cultivate many types of skills.

Finally, people don’t just get their nails done to impress others or conform to society’s beauty standards. People get their nails and manicures done because it’s relaxing, fun, creative and empowering. Just like exploring fashion and wearing a nice outfit, someone who gets their nails done can feel more confident in their skin and satisfied with their appearance.

I think getting a manicure and a pedicure can be fun, but I rarely get one or the other. I went through a phase where I was very attached to nail polish and nail art, but now I care more about buying clothes than decorating my nails. But it is important to invest in ourselves, financially and emotionally. If getting your nails done makes you happy, it’s definitely worth spending the time, money and energy on a manicure or pedicure.

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