How Was Nail Polish Used in Ancient Times?

Nail polish has been a popular cosmetic product for centuries, but did you know that it was also used in ancient times? Let’s take a look at how nail polish was used by our ancestors.

The Origins of Nail Polish

The first evidence of nail polish can be traced back to ancient China, around 3000 BC. During that time, the Chinese would use a mixture of beeswax, egg whites, gelatin, and vegetable dyes to color their nails.

The colors ranged from red and pink to gold and black. It’s said that the colors represented social status – the higher the status, the darker the color.

Ancient Egypt

The Egyptians were also known for their use of nail polish. They would use henna to dye their nails and hair.

Henna is a plant-based dye that produces a reddish-brown color. The Egyptians believed that henna had magical properties that could ward off evil spirits.

Ancient Greece

In ancient Greece, women would use a mixture of olive oil and red iron oxide to color their nails. They believed that having vibrant colored nails was a sign of good health.

Modern Times

Nail polish as we know it today wasn’t introduced until the 1920s when French makeup artist Michelle Ménard created a formula using nitrocellulose and pigments. This new formula allowed for more vibrant colors and longer-lasting wear.

Today, nail polish comes in an endless array of colors and finishes – from matte to glittery to metallic. It’s still considered an essential part of many people’s beauty routine.


Nail polish has come a long way since its origins in ancient China. While the ingredients have changed over time, one thing remains constant – its ability to add some color and personality to our nails. Whether you prefer classic red or bold neon, there’s a nail polish out there for everyone.