The History of Nail Polish – Egypt

By Inspirationail

The History of Nail PolishOver the past few weeks we have been researching the history of nail polish & it’s more complicated than it sounds. There are several theories about when and where it actually began & we think we’ve got one that makes sense.

A Quick Rundown

From what we can tell, nail polish originated with henna decorations in India and quickly spread through other cultures. The Babylonians ran with this idea, creating procedures we now call manicures using kohl. The Chinese took the idea even further, creating a lacquer formula and increased colour ranges using flower petals.

Although it is true that Egyptian women made red nail polish famous, it was actually the Chinese that started that trend.

Egyptian tomb decoration

Famously Beautiful

The Egyptian Pharohs and their wives were famous for their use of cosmetics to adorn their face & bodies. Although it’s unclear how early the practice began in Egypt, some of the most famous female names of country’s history were known for their handsome red nails.

Ranking Colour

As seems to be the trend, the colour of the nail indicated social status. While lower classes were allowed to colour their nails, they were only allowed to use pale colours.

Red was for royalty only – the stronger the shade, the more power behind the nail.


Famous Queens

Queen Nefertiti was known for her ruby red nails, she and her court would wear this dazzling shade. They used a type of henna (and it’s said sometimes blood) to achieve their desired colour. Cleopatra was perhaps a little less morbid in her choice of colours. She favoured a striking crimson hue for her nails.

More Polish History

Be sure to learn about how the Indian’s invented nail polish, how the Babylonians took it to the next level with manicures & the Chinese made nails even more sophisticated.


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