The Evolution & History of a Manicure

 Since 1996 I have had the pleasure of doing all kinds of salon services in Cincinnati, Indiana and Kentucky. I meet and become friends with people from all walks of life and honestly that is one reason I love what I do.. It’s never boring!  We all have one area in our careers that is our “bread and butter” so to speak and for me that is a manicure & pedicure!  Manicures have evolved in so many ways over the years and I feel like I have experienced most of them at one time. 

History of Manicure

Manicure history dates from more than 4,000 years. In China in 3,000 BC nail color indicated social status. ( according to Ming dynasty manuscript). Royal people used to paint their nails with black and red colors.

Ancient Egyptians used to manicure all the way back from  23000 BC. It’s said that Cleopatra`s (Ptolemaic Queen of Egypt) used to paint with deep red and military commanders also painted their nails to match their lips in battle.

French manicure was originated in 18th century Paris. French manicures are designed in a way to resemble natural nails with pink color on nails and white color on tip of nails. French manicure was very famous in 1920 – 1930.”

Read more at Nails Journal 

history of manicures in ancient Egypt

When I first started nails were acrylic or nail polish only.  Occasionally, you could find a silk or fiberglass wrap but mostly acrylic.  Later an awesome product call “Gel” hit the market and that was a game changer for many nail technicians.

This was a product that was pre-mixed and ready to apply vs. Acrylics that needed a proper ratio of 1 to 1 monomer (liquid) and polymer (powder) and a special brush that needed to be the exact consistency to create a hard finish.  It required very dangerous ingredients, heavy filing on the natural nail and the scariest topically applied item was the “Nail Primer” this is an acid like product!

Yes that’s right ACID! I cannot even believe I was naive enough to tell a nail client to her face that this little bottle was going to eat tiny holes in the nail so that the acrylic can “hold on better”.

Not only was this time consuming it smells bad and is far more dangerous than the new Gel option.  Now that said the first gels were also problematic and created another set of dangers for client’s health.   When I first started using Gel you could not soak it off like you could with acrylic. It needed to be filed off which meant lots of filing that can be equally dangerous for the clients health of the nail. Additionally it was dangerous for the nail technician because of the constant movement of the arm and hand and potential damage to fingers, wrists and shoulders. 

So what did they do to solve that problem?

Dremmel tools or nail drills, that’s sounds safe doesn’t it?  NOT.  These tools are used to speed up the filing process and if done incorrectly will cause permanent nail damage and possible loss of a nail. Not to mention the amount of dust that is created and then inhaled during these services could certainly have profound lung and breathing issues in years to come, hence the face masks that some nail techs wear- ever wonder why they don’t offer you one? 

So, as with any new product on the market, as soon as it hits it becomes obsolete. There is always a new and better option on the horizon.   As a service provider for over 20 years, and considering and all of the mistakes and valuable lessons I’ve learned, I am constantly looking for new options that are safe for my clients. 

Woman will turn a blind eye for many beauty tools and supplies and I hate to say but even I do.  With that said, moving into 2016 I am working hard to create safe, healthy options for myself, my family and my valued clients with regard to nail care, foot care and skin care. 

We put products on our largest organ “the skin” every single day and many of these are not safe and sadly our skin absorbs 60% of the terrible toxins.  My first and most important change in my business is with manicures and pedicures, as I said this is my bread and butter and because more than 70% of the guests I see come for these services I want to be as informed as possible and share with then good healthy options for nail care.

The solution for a better Nail Polish, Gel Polish or Manicure and Pedicure products is something I am constantly researching to ensure that the best is being used at all times.  Nail enhancements ( gel) will still require a few things that are deemed dangerous or unsafe, however in moderation and done as safely as possible they can be used to enhance your final nail appearance.

Always ask your technician what they are going to use on your nails and why… this can be valuable and very telling information because I would bet that most of them do not know.

Get informed and get comfortable in asking these questions because at the end of the day it’s your health that can suffer!

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Heather Cooper

Heather Cooper

Heather has extensive experience having worked in various salons and spas in Ohio and Indiana focusing on skin care, manicuring-pedicuring, makeup and many other spa services and treatments.

She is a master manicurist with Creative Nail design and certified with OPI Nail Products as well as certified in Bio-elements skin care and techniques. She is Wedding Wire rated for Bridal Makeup. Contact Toolbox Studio Salon, 2037 Madison Rd. Cincinnati, Ohio 45208. Lower level in O'Bryonville
Heather Cooper
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