History of Nail Art

Decorated nails long predate Beyonce and Lady Gaga. We offer a history lesson.

5000-3000 B.C.: Women in ancient Egypt dye their fingertips with henna to broadcast their social status and sex appeal.

600 B.C.: Noblemen and women of China's Chou dynasty sprinkle their nails with gold and silver dust.

See more: Top 21 Drugstore Beauty Bargains

1920s-30s: MGM employs Beatrice Kaye to manicure its stars, such as Bette Davis. Kaye paints just the center of the nails, calling it a "moon manicure."

1930: Princess de Faucigny-Lucinge, a Parisian socialite, sets a new trend: red nails with a stripe of silver painted on just the tips.

1937: Inventor Earl Tupper, creator of Tupperware, experiments with glue-on nail appliques, including pictures of shamrocks.

1955: Fred Slack, a dentist, and his brother Tom inadvertently invent acrylic extensions while trying to mend a broken fingernail with acrylic.

See more: The 10 Commandments of Mascara

1965: London mod followers decorate their nails with flowers using artists' oil paints. Fashion designer Mary Quant launches Nail Bullion-a silver-flecked nail polish.

1988: Wearing long, blinged-out nails, Florence Griffith Joyner sets two world records at the Seoul Olympics.

Late 1990s: Hip-hop artists such as Missy Elliot embrace airbrushed and pierced nails. Lil' Kim wears dollar bills encased in acrylic.

1999: CoverGirl introduces a line of polishes called Crackle Lacquers that create a broken-glass effect on nails.

See more: The 6 Most Flattering Haircuts for Round Faces

2007: Beyonce tops her nails with gold Minx foils at the American Music Awards. Models at the Louis Vuitton spring show have Swarovski-encrusted nails.

March 2011: Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips hit the market in a variety of prints, including leopard, zebra, lace, and paint splatter.

September 2011: The Nail-art exhibition "Nailphilia" opens at the degreeart.com gallery in London.

January 2012: Models walk the Chanel couture runway with geometric, two-tone manicures.

See more from Allure:
The Top 14 New Summer Hair Ideas

The 12 Best Eye Creams

2012 Readers' Choice Awards
10 Hairstyles That Make You Look 10 Years Younger