Manicures began 5,000 years ago in India, when henna was used as nail polish. The popular practice eventually moved to China, where Cixi, the dowager empress was known for her beautiful, long nails. Although they were artificial, she always had them well-manicured. Fashion nails then became popular for women who did not have long nails, but still wanted a manicure. In the 20th century and into the 21st century, acrylic and UV gel nails have become the popular “fashion nails.”
The french manicure that we know of today as the pink nail with a white tip began in 1975, when film directors wanted actresses’ nails to complement each wardrobe change. Jeff Pink, the founder of a nail lacquer and treatment company named Orly thought up this manicure style. He named it “French manicure” in honor of his friends in Paris, after runway models donned his new look. “I realized the most elegant, universal nail look is a natural nail look,” Pink said.