In ancient Egypt, women used nail color to signify social order with shades of red at the top. Queen Nefertiti, the wife of King Akhenaton, colored her fingernails and toenails ruby red; Cleopatra favored crimson. Women of lower rank who colored their nails were permitted only pale colors.
The Chinese used a colored lacquer, made from gum arabic, egg whites, gelatin and beeswax. They used mashed rose, orchid and impatiens petals combined with alum. This mixture was applied to nails for a few hours, leaves a color ranging from pink to red. In the Chou Dynasty of 600 BC, Chinese royalty used gold and silver to enhance their nails. A 15th century Ming manuscript cites red and black as the colors chosen by royalty for previous centuries. (Wikipedia)
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