We Are Now a Nail Polish Economy (Say What?)

So far, 2011 is the Year of Mystery Terms. We’re not even at the end of our first month of 2011 and we already have “blood libel” to “Verizon liberation” to “La Nina Snowcalypse” bouncing around making sense to only those permanently locked into a 24-hour news thread. In keeping with this new trend, did you know we’re in a “nail polish economy?” Allow us to explain.

JWT Intelligence Think Tank recently decreed that said “nail polish economy” was a thing to watch in 2011. According to JWT, women typically treat themselves to a new lipstick in troubled times. (That being now, see “blood libel” and “snowcalypse.”) But now the new must-have accessory in the fashion world is nail polish. JWT points out that nails include crazy colors to “leather nails to purposefully chipped nails.” Even Volvo is offering three shades of nail polish to match the latest hues of their Soa.

What is it about nail polish that makes it so popular? Modern nail polish appeared in the 1920s, born from the enamel that was used to paint cars. (See, Volvo is onto something.) But nail tint actually dates back to ancient Egypt. Red nail polish was a sign of social order – apparently, Cleopatra once tinted her nails crimson. And this was a practice reserved for Cleopatra alone. Women who ranked below her were only allowed to tint their nails with pale colors.

Ancient Chinese also colored their nails. The Chou Dynasty of 600BC was comprised of royalty that used gold and silver to enhance their nails. Flash forward to the 20th century, and Max Factor invents Society Nail Tint, a rose-colored cream which gives the nails a reddish tint when applied. Almost a century-later, women and some men, are painting their nails every color under the rainbow and more.

And that is the appeal of nail polish. To many of us, it’s self-expression on our finger tips. You may walk out of the house forgetting to brush your hair, but as long as you’re rocking the lime green nails, you still feel dressed. It’s like we’re painting our moods on our hands that can change with a swipe of remover. Black connotes a rebellious state of mind. Crimson might mean you’re feeling classic or vampy. Turquoise is playful. Orange is bad ass.

And the best part? The color changes meaning for each wearer. Simply, painting your nails is good old fun for less than $20. And it seems to be permeating pop culture. The TV show Glee just announced a line of nail polishes, all sparking hues with names like “Hell to the No, a glittery lime green” and “Gleek Out, an opaque light blue.” And in a time when reading the news seems worth more emotion than you can spare, that’s fun we can get behind. So bring it, nail polish economy. We’re ready for you.

Want to check out some awesome nail polish lines free of toluene, formaldehyde and BDPs? Check them out here.

Image: melloveschallah

Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.