Nails, a protective layer covering the tips of our fingers and toes, have always been a source of fascination and a canvas for beauty and style. But beyond their aesthetic appeal, nails have a lot to reveal about our health, habits, and history. Let’s delve into 15+ fascinating facts about nails that you might not be aware of.
#1 Nail Growth Rate
Your fingernails grow an average of 3 to 4 millimeters per month. That comes out to about 1 millimeter of new nail growth every week. Set your calendar reminders accordingly to keep those tips well-shaped!
Fingernails tend to grow faster in the summer when there is more sunlight. Extra vitamin D from the sun likely boosts growth. Meanwhile, toenails grow at about half the speed of fingernails.
BTW, you can explore Why Do My Fingernails Grow So Quickly or Do Toenails Grow Faster Than Fingernails?
#2 Historical Status Symbol
Dating back to 3000 BC, nail polish color indicated one’s status in society. Light, neutral nail colors were worn by lower class people. Deep red nail lacquer was reserved for nobility and the elite.
Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt took nail grooming so seriously that royal manicurists existed! Nail status symbols have certainly evolved over time.
#3 Acrylic Invention
It may surprise you that acrylic nails were invented by a dentist! In 1954, Dr. Stuart Nordstrom created an acrylic product to help a patient with broken nails.
By the 1970s, acrylic nail sculpting techniques became popular in salons. Nail artists have been using acrylic to extend nails ever since!
Maybe you want to read: The Effects Of Acrylic Nail Polish On Nails?
#4 Price Evolution
Speaking of decades past, can you believe a bottle of nail polish cost only 35 cents back in 1934? I remember paying just a dollar or two for polish in the 1980s.
Now, quality nail lacquer costs between $10 and $20 per bottle. My how times and inflation have changed!
#5 Annual Sales
Nail polish continues to be a hot commodity in the beauty industry. In 2022, nail polish sales hit $1.5 billion in the United States alone – a huge increase from that $768 million figure 10 years ago!
Several factors contribute to this booming polish business:
- More variety – Over 300 new nail lacquer shades launch every season.
- Artistic expression – Nail art like ombre, textures and embellishments is on trend.
- Self care – DIY manicures are a therapeutic part of people’s self care routines.
- Salons – Nail salons have grown in popularity across the country.
- Social media – Instagram and TikTok feature endless nail inspiration.
With so many colors, techniques and ideas to try, it’s no wonder nail polish has become a $1.5 billion dollar market in 2022! The possibilities are endless for creative nail artists and at-home manicure lovers.
#6 Longevity Factor
Now for the sad news: an opened bottle of nail polish only lasts about two years before drying up. Once air hits the lacquer, the formula starts evaporating.
To prolong the life, store polishes tightly sealed and upside down to keep air away from the brush and nozzle. Refrigeration can help slow the drying process too!
Do you know how to open stuck nail polish?
#7 Airline Rules
Don’t even think about opening that fresh polish bottle in flight! Most airlines prohibit using nail polishes and removers during the flight due to ventilation requirements.
I learned this the hard way, getting scolded by a flight attendant when I tried to touch up my mani at 30,000 feet. Oopsie!
#8 French Manicure Fame
The French manicure has been around since the 1930s, but who made it popular in the U.S.? Jeff Pink, founder of Orly nail polish, is credited with branded the French mani look.
By applying this classic, neutral style to actresses in the 1970s and 80s, he made French tips ubiquitous. Now the white tip look is a staple across salons.
Updated French tips price here!
#9 Growth Cycle
Our nails follow a consistent growth cycle. First, the nail forms in the cuticle over several months. Then as the nail edge moves away from the cuticle, hardening occurs for another few months. Finally, the visible part of the nail detaches from the nail bed and growth starts again.
This whole process takes about 6 months for fingernails and 12 months for toenails to complete. Then the cycle restarts – isn’t biology neat?
#10 Gender Differences
Here’s a fact that irks me as a woman – men’s fingernails generally grow faster than women’s! This difference is largely attributed to hormonal changes.
During pregnancy however, a woman’s nails may grow at an accelerated rate due to increased blood circulation. Ah, the beauty benefits of pregnancy hormones and vitamins!
#11 Fastest Fingers
If you want long nails quick, start with your middle finger! The nails on your middle fingers experience the fastest growth, averaging 4 mm per month.
Meanwhile, your thumbnail grows the slowest at just 3 mm monthly. Pinky nails may start out tiny, but they catch up quickly with speedy growth too.
#12 Nail Biting
That bad habit of chewing your nails has a clinical name – onychophagia. Up to 30% of children and 15% of adults are chronic nail biters.
While this anxiety coping mechanism is tough to kick, the health risks of passing germs makes stopping well worth it. Some lifelong nail biters even require orthodontia correction to expand a too-narrow jaw.
#13 Connection to Hair
Our nails and hair are made of the same fibrous structural protein called keratin. Just think – those tough nails are chemically similar to your luscious locks!
No wonder biotin supplements can improve the strength and shine of both. Keratin proteins form tight bonds that resist damage in hair and nails.
#14 No Oxygen Needed
While living cells require oxygen, our deceased nails do not breathe or require any metabolic activity. That’s because nails are formed by compressed, hard keratin – essentially non-living protein fibers.
So unlike skin and hair follicles, the nails themselves are not alive. Creepy but true!
#15 Health Indicators
Lastly, our nails can provide clues about our health. Discoloration, strange lines and nail separation can indicate nutritional deficiencies, disease or disorders.
That’s why doctors look closely at patients’ nails! For instance, white spots often mean zinc deficiency. While vertical ridges may indicate psoriasis or diabetes risk.
More 5 Update Facts About Nails 2023
#1. Longest Nails Record
The current Guinness World Record for longest nails belongs to Diana Armstrong of Minnesota, USA. In 2022, her nails measured over 42 feet long collectively! Her longest nail is her right thumb at 4 feet 6.7 inches. That’s true dedication to never trimming.
#2. Gel Polish Popularity
Gel manicures make up over 50% of manicure services in salons today. Gel polish formulas cure under UV light to create an ultra glossy, chip-resistant nail color that can last 2-3 weeks without chipping.
#3. Dip Powder Rising
Dip powder manicures are rising in popularity as an alternative to acrylics. The process involves dipping nails in colored powder and clear polymer to build strong, long-lasting extensions. Dip nails are lighter and lower maintenance than acrylics.
#4. Statement Nails Trend
Oversized abstract nails are trending for 2023. Known as “statement nails”, these artsy designs feature 3D embellishments, striking colors, and imaginative shapes to make an eye-catching fashion accessory.
#5. Men’s Manicures
Manicures are no longer just for women! More men are indulging in nail care and polish. Chill nail art styles and masculine spa treatments cater to this growing male nail industry.
The Bottom Line
I hope you discovered some fascinating new tidbits about the nails on your fingers and toes! We use them so much in everyday life, yet nails remain a bit mysterious.
Next time you get a manicure or shape your own nails at home, remember just how special those keratin proteins are. If you found this interesting, let me know – I love geeking out over nail science! To know more about nail world, read on our Villa Nails blog.