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Acrylic Nails and Black History Month

Alpha Brush

Posted on February 19 2021

While Black History is not contained to one month, it does serve as a good reminder to explore, recognize, and celebrate. In honor of Black History Month, we’re talking about acrylic nails and how Black women contributed their artistic style to the world of nails. There has been much discussion of late about current nail trends stealing from Black culture, so let’s give credit where it’s due.

Nails by: Taylor-Dane Nurse

Long, beautiful acrylic nails have been a thing in Black culture for, well, years. Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Florence Griffith Joyner, and other Black track stars have been showing up and showing out in more ways than speed and agility--their long nails with beautiful nail art have been making headlines for years. Flo Jo was a nail tech and hairdresser while she trained for the Olympics and did her own nails for competitions. Sha’Carri Richardson is the latest prominent Black track star to carry on the tradition of outstanding nails in the sport. Gail Devers’ nails were natural but their length and colors she wore at the Olympics was undeniably Black girl magic. Newcomer Ashley Spencer competed in the 2016 Olympics wearing pointed pink nails and she loves clapping back at Instagram followers who ask how she can do anything with “those long nails.”

Nails by: Evie Culver

Thousands of years ago Egyptian women are thought to have used ivory and bone as extensions of their natural nails. Royal Egytpians painted their nails and toenails red to convey their status. While modern-day acrylics were invented in the U.S. back in 1950, it was during the 1970s that Black singers like Donna Summer and Diana Ross popularized long, shiny nails with bling and rocked them on stage; meanwhile, Black models like Donyale Luna, the first Black woman to cover Vogue magazine, had been wearing them on magazine covers since 1966. In the 1990s Black R&B singer Coko from SWV was noted for her beautiful long nail art, and Janet Jackson popularized the pierced nail look in a Busta Rhymes video collab near the end of the decade. Black rappers L’il Kim and Missy Elliott carried on the tradition of beautiful statement nails well into the 2000s. 

Nails by: Taylor-Dane Nurse

Whether you grew up in the city or the country, on either coast or in the Midwest, in the south or the north of these United States, chances are that Black culture and its take on acrylic manicures has touched or influenced you in some way, no matter what color your skin. To celebrate and honor Black women’s contributions to the art of acrylic nail design is to recognize their crucial role throughout history and pay homage to it as well. We at Alpha Brush see you, and thank you.

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