Nail polish was used in the ancient world. In China it started off being made from a combination of beeswax, egg whites, gelatin, vegetable dyes, and gum arabic. The Chinese would dip their hands in an oil for several hours their finger nails would turn red or pink. In Ancient Egypt henna was used. The henna stained their fingernails orange, which turned dark red or brown after the stain matured. In 1300 BC, the colour of the nail polish reflected social rank. The colours gold and silver were favoured; later, black and red were the favoured colours. Red is the colour Cleopatra wore.
By the turn of the 9th century, nails were tinted with scented red oils, and polished or buffed with a chamois cloth, rather than simply polished. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, people pursued a polished rather than painted look by massaging tinted powders and creams into their nails, then buffing them shiny. After the creation of automobile paint, Cutex produced the first modern nail polish in 1917. Synthetic nail polish was introduced in the 1920s in Paris.