Do you think of your nails all the time? Most people don’t, unless you’re a nail junkie or a manicurist who is totally in love with your job. Aside from the stubbed toe, a broken fingernail, or the occasional mani-pedi, we don’t give our nails much thought.
For sure, there are things you don’t know about nails and your nail polish. We list some of the fascinating facts about them:
1. Nails are made of the same material as our hair.
Although different in color and structure, our nails (both in fingers and toes) are made of the same material as our hair, which is keratin. That means, the same foods that are good for the hair are good for the nails also. Keratin is a protein, so healthy fats and oil are needed to keep both nails and hair strong and moisturized.
2. Many aspects affect nail growth.
The rate of nail growth is affected by a lot of things like gender, hormones, weather and hand activity. On average, fingernails grow for about 3.5 millimeters a month. Women’s nails actually grow slower than men’s. But during pregnancy, women’s nails tend to grow faster due to hormone secretions. If you would observe, nails typically grow faster in the summer than in the winter.
The dominant hand also contains the nails which grow the fastest, and that is why typing with nails, playing sports and getting a nail massage actually stimulate nail growth. Because of that, toenails grow a little bit slower, with an average of 1.6 millimeters a month. Strangely, the longer the fingers, the faster the nails grow – the middle nail grows the fastest and the thumb nail grows the slowest.
3. Nails can tell a lot about your overall health.
A well-educated dermatologist can tell about your body health just by examining your nails. If you have abnormally pale nails, you might have anemia. Dark, vertical lines on the nail bed mean you might be having melanoma. Depressions and small cracks in nails are often associated with psoriasis. Brittle and thin nails might mean thyroid problems. Yellowing and thickening nails are signs of fungal infection. Meanwhile, bluish discolorations might indicate lung disease. If you see something unusual about your nails, don’t think of it as just a skin condition. Consult your dermatologist immediately.
4. Nail polish was invented in ancient times.
The art of nail painting goes back as early as 3,000 BC. During the Ming Dynasty, aristocratic women of ancient China would soak their nails in a formula made of egg whites, beeswax, gelatin and gum Arabic, adding dyes from vegetables, orchids and roses to color their nails.
Archaeological evidence proves the presence of manicure kits in ancient Babylon. Surprisingly, they were found in the tombs of Babylonian soldiers. The warriors would stain their nails with black and green kohl paint to strike fear to their enemies. Painting nails were part of the tough guys’ pre-battle ritual.
Meanwhile in Egypt, ancient women used nail polish to show their social status. Those in the lower classes wore light colors while the elite were allowed to put on red and other darker shades.
5. Modern nail polish was a by-product of car paint.
When car paint was invented in the 1920s, a French makeup artist named Michelle Menard tried to adopt it to create a polish for nails. Menard was working then for a company named Charles Revson, which is now known as Revlon. Revlon started selling its first nail polish in salons during 1932 and at drugstores and department stores in 1937.
6. It’s best to give your nails a break between manicures and pedicures.
The nail, though it’s hard, is still skin. It’s a living tissue that needs oxygen to breathe, just like our facial skin. Keeping the nails smothered with nail polish all the time can dry them out due to lack of oxygen, which in turn makes them brittle and prone to breakage. It is advisable to take a three-day break from wearing nail polishes every three weeks to keep them strong and healthy.
7. French manicure is really French.
French fries did not originate in France, but in Belgium. French manicures, on the other hand, really did come from France. The French manicure is probably the most popular nail color scheme. It originated in the 18th century Paris, but it became popular during the 1920s to 1930s. The idea behind this manicure was to allow the French royalty to have elegant hands and nails to show their social status. People from the lower class were not allowed to color their nails.
8. Red nail polish used to be scandalous.
Red nails are totally attractive, but if you have them in the 1950s, you would be considered promiscuous. Some churches even banned women from worshiping during Sundays if they had painted nails. During the Victorian era, women with paint on their nails were considered sinful, and women who did so were usually prostitutes.
9. Some people can be allergic to nail polish.
If one of your passions in life is getting your nails done and one of your closest friends is allergic to nail polish, you’d likely feel sorry for her. It’s probably because of formaldehyde, which is one of the main ingredients of nail polish that can irritate sensitive skin. But the good news is that many brands today offer formaldehyde-free nail polishes like Clinique and Deborah Lippman. Plus, campaigns are being formed to remove the “toxic trio” in nail paints – formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate – so, we are pretty much looking forward to a more skin-friendly mani-pedi future.
10. Your nail polish color is not a random thing.
Unless you’re obsessed about your favorite color, your nail polish color of choice isn’t random, whether you realize it or not. According to psychological experts, color preferences are usually a reflection of our current mental state and the thoughts that are subconsciously stored in our memories. The next time you pick a shade for your manicure, it probably means a lot more than you think.
11. The most expensive nail polish costs $250,000.
With a quarter of a million dollars, you can buy a lot of things like a house, a fancy car or college education. But if you’re super-duper fancy, you can also buy a bottle of Black Diamond Nail Polish created by a diamond company named Azature instead. The ridiculously pricey nail polish contains 267 carats of real black diamonds. Plus, the jeweler is based on Hollywood and has adorned stars like Beyoncé and Rihanna, so they pretty much have the right to set that price tag.
12. Nail polish and nail polish remover last indefinitely.
Unopened nail polish can last indefinitely, but once opened, it can only live for two years. Some of its ingredients will evaporate once the bottle is opened, causing the polish to separate and thicken. To thin it, add a few drops of nail-lacquer thinner. However, nail polish removers do not have any shelf life. You may even preserve a bottle for your future grandchildren to use without any worry of its expiry.