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The Evolution of Acrylic Nails: A Brief History

The Evolution of Acrylic Nails: A Brief History

Acrylic nails have become a staple in the world of beauty and fashion, with millions of people around the globe opting for this popular nail enhancement. But have you ever wondered about the history behind these beautiful and durable nails? In this blog post, we will take a journey through time to trace the evolution of nail art from ancient history to the runaway phenomena that is the contemporary nail industry. Early Beginnings:

The Birth of Nail Enhancements

The concept of acrylic nails can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where people used a variety of materials such as bone, ivory and gold to create artificial nail extensions. In China during the Ming Dynasty, nail extensions were considered a status symbol reserved for the elite classes. The upper classes, particularly amongst the intelligentsia (and both men and women) would grow their nails long as a sign of wealth. Long nails were indicative of individuals who were exempt from manual labour. In Europe, women during the 19th century experimented with adhesives and paper forms to extend their nails, so not acrylic nails as we would know them but certainly a nail enhancement. The 19th and early 20th centuries also spawned nail manicures that would start to recognise today with the advent ail polish or nail laquer.

Enter Acrylic Nails

So what exactly does acrylic mean? Acrylic is a loose term that encompasses a wide range of thermoplastic resins derived from acrylic acid. These resins find applications in the manufacturing of various materials such as plastics, coatings, adhesives, rubbers, polishes, and paints. Synthetic resins and textile fibers, derived from polymers of acrylic acid or its derivatives, are also produced using this group of materials. The origins of acrylic nails are disputed but what we do know is that in the 1950s saw that dentists discovered acrylic’s potential for creating artificial teeth and it didn’t take much of a leap of imagination for enterprising beauticians to see it could also be used to create artificial nails. The term "acrylic nail" then, like now, typically denotes a blend of liquid and powder, combined into a malleable mixture. This pliable substance is then delicately shaped onto your nail using a brush and left to air dry.

Acrylics Nails today

Throughout the years, manufacturers have made remarkable advancements, resulting in the ability of nail technicians to craft acrylic nails that are not only thin (unlike some of the acrylics in the 70s and 80s) but also exude a more natural appearance. The amazing set of nails depicted below were created by the award-winning nail technician and founder of Glitterbels, Annabel Maginnis. 

The market for Acrylic (and other nail products) is also forecast to grow exponentially:


The Future of Acrylic

Nails Acrylic nails have come a long way from their humble beginnings. Today, we see a variety of styles and techniques being used to create stunning acrylic nail designs. From the classic French manicure to intricate 3D nail art, the possibilities are endless (Check out, Lil Kim's manicure that ended up in the New York Museum of Modern Art:) 

The use of different materials such as glitter, gems, and even real flowers has taken acrylic nails to a whole new level. So what does the future hold? We are seeing more and more innovation in the industry, with advancements in technology (like 3D Printing) leading to new techniques, tools and materials. And as long as there are creative minds behind the nail liquids and powders, we can be sure that acrylic nails will continue to evolve and here at Glitterbels, we can’t wait to see what happens next.