Friday, June 18, 2010

Nails, Nails, Nails

After I was reading up on Rita Hayworth and her naturally long nails that she painted in one color (hot pink), I started thinking of nail trends. I have gone back and forth between acrylic, french-manicured nails, and short nails in a multitude of colors. My favorites are either very dark tones on short nails (black, blood red, dark blue or purple) or light colors and a white tip look on acrylic, longer nails. I've noticed certain nail trends on screen on actresses such as Joan Crawford, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, and Jean Harlow. Most of these are the half moon manicure (also called a ruffian manicure) or the manicure that leaves the half moon white and the tip white, with the in between in a darker shade of nail polish (as seen in this Cutex advertisement). This trend is coming back as well, on celebrities like Dita Von Teese, and if you look closely, Kim Cattrall is sporting various half moon looks and the popular Minx Nails in Sex and the City 2. It wasn't until the late 30's and early 40's that women started painting their nails in one all-over color. This is seen in the movie The Women (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1939), for example. Joan Crawford's character goes to the spa and gets her nails painted a "Jungle Red", which is evidently a very dramatic and scandalous name, kind of like what the women are up to in the film. Nowadays you can find a 'jungle red' nail color by Nars, which actually does look pretty dramatic and scandalous to me.
(Photo from

The history of nail polish coincides with the automotive industry if you can believe it. Before car paint came about, nails would be rubbed with tinted and scented oils and creams and then buffed to a shine. So nail enamel was inspired by the car paint, which came out in 1925. The moon manicure became all the rage (which if you think about it, is great for chipping, if the tip of your nail is not carrying a color). In the thirties Revlon was born with their introduction of a new type of nail enamel that was based on pigments rather than dyes. They also started marketing the whole matching nail and lip look. From the mid to late thirties the style of an all-over color on the entire nail became
en vogue, and many credit Miss Rita Hayworth with this trend. Apparently she also influenced the length and shape of the nail (longer and more oval in shape). Early nail colors were always in shades of pink and red, and over time these have proven to be the most popular and classic hues. I decided to try the moon manicure on my own nails, using a more modern shade of purple and a silver color beneath that. My acrylic nails are growing out, and this seems to camouflage the cuticle a bit, where the growth is most visible. I've never tried this style before, so excuse my crude lines, but I have to say that I really like it, especially after seeing its current resurgence in movies and on various celebrities. I'm looking forward to trying it out on my own natural, shorter nails. The colors I used are NYX Silver and Misa Violetta.

Cutex Polish Advertisement from late 1930's:

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