Nail polish (also known as nail varnish or nail enamel) is a lacquer that can be applied to the human fingernail or toenail to decorate and protect the nail plates. The formula has been revised repeatedly to enhance its decorative effects and to suppress cracking or peeling. Nail polish consists of a mix of an organic polymer and several other components that give it its unique color and texture Nail polishes come in all shades of color and play a significant part in manicures or pedicures.
Nail polish originated in China and dates back to 3000 BC. Around 600 BC, during the Zhou dynasty, the royal house preferred the colors gold and silver. However, red and black eventually replaced these metallic colors as royal favorites. During the Ming dynasty, nail polish was often made from a mixture that included beeswax, egg whites, gelatin, vegetable dyes, and gum Arabic
In Egypt the lower classes wore pale colors, whereas high society painted their nails reddish brown, with henna. Mummified pharaohs also had their nails painted with henna.
Colored nail polish did not make an appearance until the 1920s. Early nail polish formulas were created using basic ingredients such as lavender oil, carmine, oxide tin, and bergamot oil. It was more common to polish nails with tinted powders and creams, finishing off by buffing the nail until left shiny. One type of polishing product sold around this time was Graf's Hyglo nail polish paste.
This type of nail polish is a clear, milky-colored, or opaque pink polish formula that is used specifically before applying nail polish to the nail. Its purpose is to strengthen nails, restore moisture to the nail, and help polish adhere to the nail. It prevents staining and extends the lifespan of the manicure. Some base coats are marketed as "ridge fillers", and can create a smooth surface, de-emphasizing the ridges that can appear on unbuffed nails. Some base coats, called "peel off base coats", allow the user to peel off their nail polish without using a remover.
This type of nail polish is a clear colored polish formula that is used specifically after applying nail polish to the nail. It forms a hardened barrier for the nail that can prevent chipping, scratching and peeling. Many topcoats are marketed as "quick-drying." Topcoats can help the underlying colored polish dry quickly as well. It gives the polish a more finished and desired look and may help to keep the polish on longer.
Gel polish is a long-lasting variety of nail polish made up of a type of methacrylate polymer. It is painted on the nail similar to traditional nail polish, but does not dry. Instead it is cured under an ultraviolet lamp or ultraviolet LED. While regular nail polish formulas typically last two to seven days without chipping, gel polish can last as long as two weeks with proper application and home care. Gel polish can be more difficult to remove than regular nail polish. It is usually removed by soaking the nails in pure acetone (the solvent used in most nail polish removers) for five to fifteen minutes, depending on the formula.
Matte polish is like regular polish, but has a purposely dull finish rather than a shine. It can be purchased as a regular base coat in ranges of different colors. Matte nail polish can also be found in a topcoat. Matte topcoat is most useful for painting over any dry base color, giving it a different appearance. The matte topcoat polish will dull the shine from a regular base coat polish. Matte polish has become very popular through the years, particularly since it can be used in nail art applications, where designs can be created on the nail using the contrast of both shiny and matte surfaces.
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