What Is the History of Nail Art?

Art|Art History

Nail art, or the application of decorative designs and colors to nails, has been around for centuries. Ever since the ancient Egyptians started painting their nails with henna almost 5,000 years ago, people have been experimenting with different types of nail art. From the French manicure to intricate nail designs, nail art has gone through many iterations over the years.

In the early 1900s, women would use enamel paints and brushes to create colorful designs on their nails. This was a popular trend in countries like China, Japan and India during this time period.

In the 1920s and 1930s, women in Europe began using metallic powders to create intricate designs on their nails. This trend quickly spread throughout Europe and then to North America.

The French manicure was developed in Paris during the 1970s as a way to make nails look clean and polished without having to do too much work. This popular style was later adopted by celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. In the 1980s, acrylic nails became popular as they allowed people to have longer nails while still being able to apply polish.

Modern Nail Art

Today’s nail art is more creative than ever before. People are now using a variety of techniques such as airbrushing, stamping, water marbling and hand-painting to create unique designs on their nails. Nail art is also becoming increasingly popular among men who want to express themselves through their nails.


Nail art has come a long way since its inception thousands of years ago. From simple henna designs to modern airbrushing techniques, there are now countless ways for people to express themselves through their nails. Nail art is no longer just for women; it is quickly becoming an acceptable form of self-expression for both men and women alike.