Compared to other cosmetics used today by many people all over the world, nail polish is a fairly recent invention. Around 600 BC, during the Zhou dynasty, the royalty used a nail polish-like product. By the turn of the ninth century, nails were tinted with scented red oils, and polished or buffed. A product closely related to nail polish was used in ancient Egypt. The wealthy class would use henna to dye their hair and fingernails. Henna is very different from modern day nail polish in the sense that it has completely different chemical components to it. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, people preferred a polished rather than a painted look by mixing tinted powders and creams into their nails, then buffing them until shiny. Today nail polish is sold in tiny bottles with a brush for self application. Nail polish tends to be very popular due to a fast waiting period after application, and can easily be removed by a substance that breaks down to dissolve the nail polish off of the designated areas. .
There are many different types of ingredients that go into making nail polish. The basic ingredients are film forming agents, resins and plasticizers, solvents, and coloring agents. Nail polish consists of a film-forming polymer dissolved in an organic solvent. Nitrocellulose cotton (a highly flammable liquid mixed with tiny cotton fibers and an ingredient also commonly used in dynamite) that is dissolved in ethyl acetate is common. Manufacturers add synthetic resins and plasticizers to their mixtures so it can resist against water and other properties. The remaining components of nail polish must be contained within solvents that hold the colorings and other materials. And finally, the most important part of nail polish, color. Not only does nail polish contain pigments to make color, but nail polish also contains guanine which is made from fish scales. .
Modern manufacturing consists of skilled workers, machinery, and robotics.