Black Nail Polish – A Brief History

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Black Nail Polish – a Short History

In ancient China, the color of one’s nails conveyed social status. People of lower classes used paler nuances while the deeper red and black tones were reserved strictly for the members of the royal family.

In the following centuries the popular preference toward nail color varied greatly, but black seems to be generally shunned and disapproved, or unnoticed in the least. Until the 70s when rock legends like David Bowie and Freddy Mercury bring it back into view.

On the hands of these rocking men, black nail polish took on a whole new meaning. In the 90s it became an expression of the gothic movement and was popularized by Marilyn Manson’s extravagant style.


Today, while still in extensive use by goths and punks, black nail polish has become more common. Celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba and Nicole Richie have been photographed on the red carpet with black nails.

The image black nail polish conveys today is that of a bad girl, who is still fashionable. Even renowned designers as Chanel and OPI now offer products for nails in black.