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The Origin Of The Half-Moon Nail Design

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Posted on February 04 2019

To celebrate Lunar New Year, we wanted to explore the history of one of the oldest nail designs...the half-moon! 

You may know that the half-moon design is currently one of the hottest trends in the nail industry, but what you may not know is the history behind it. Believe it or not, the half-moon design was the “first nail design ever created.”

This trendy style is said to date back to the late 1920’s and became the preferred style throughout most of the 30’s. Yes, this manicure style is actually as old as nail polish itself!

From the 1890’s until the beginning of World War I, it was mandatory for women to wear gloves in public. Back then, a lady was never seen outside her house without a pair of gloves on her hands.

In 1917, Cutex released the first commercial nail polish, but because women were required to wear gloves, there wasn’t really a market for it. It was also released soon after the discovery of car paint, so it’s safe to assume it was very toxic.

By the time the 1920’s came around, gloves were starting to become less popular. After WWI, there were more women working outside the home. It wasn’t until the late 1950’s when gloves faded out completely. But during the 1920’s, there were enough women going “glove-less”, that Revlon decided to get into the nail polish game. Between the two companies, Revlon and Cutex convinced enough women that nail polish was a “neat new thing to try.” By the 1930’s, the era of nail polish was well underway.

The half-moon design that’s popular today resulted from a collision of old social conventions and superstitions. During that time, a woman who had dirt under her fingernails was considered poor and uncultured, which is why most wore gloves. When women stopped wearing gloves and started wearing nail polish, there was speculation that women who wore nail polish had something to hide. The half moon manicure was a halfway between covering up “working class nails” and going completely bare. It was also believed that by leaving the moon of the nail, where it grows from the bed, and the tip bare, the nail could “breathe” under the color.

Today, nail artists and enthusiasts have done their own take on this popular design. Here's a look at some of our favorites!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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