Who Invented Acrylic Nails? History From Dentistry To Modern Manicure

Artificial or synthetic acrylic nails are an integral part of women’s wear, but do you know who invented acrylic nails?

The credit for inventing acrylic nails goes to a talented dentist named Dr. Frederick Slack. 

In the 1950s, Dr. Slack developed a method using dental acrylics to repair and enhance natural nails. But it was just a start, which opened a foundation for evolution. 

Later in the 1970s, Dr. Stuart Nordstrom was the person who contributed to formulating the system of acrylic liquid and powder.

In the same era of 1970-80, a few salons initiated sell-out services for acrylic manicures in the United States.  

This blog on the invention of acrylic nails is based on thorough research, analysis, and history examination conducted by our team of beauty experts and professionals.

We have collected information from various offline and online resources like Wikipedia, Encylopedia Britannica, and some famous books by Suzanne E. Shapiro and Donne and Ginny Geer.

In this post, we’ll explore the story behind the creation of acrylic nails and the individuals who played a pivotal role in their innovation.

Where Did Acrylic Nails Originate?

The exact lineage of acrylic nails is a bit unclear, as different sources point toward different regions.  However, it is widely acknowledged that the concept of acrylic nails originated in the United States.

Some historians also join acrylic nails history to the women of Egypt hundreds of decades ago. It is predicted that women at that time used to wear finger extensions in the form of bones and ivory. 

When And How Were Acrylic Nails Originated?

Acrylic nails, also known as artificial nails, have a history that began decades ago. The origin of acrylic nails can be traced to the early 1950s.

In 1954, a famous dentist, Dr. Frederick Slack, accidentally broke one of his patient’s nails. In order to fix the nail, he employed a dental acrylic substance and a mesh to create an artificial extension. 

This innovative solution inspired Dr. Stuart Nordstrom, a dentist from California, to further expand and refine the concept.

In the early 1970s, Dr. Nordstrom collaborated with a professional nail technician named Tom Savio to formulate the first commercially available acrylic nails. 

They developed a system that involved using dental acrylic powder and liquid, along with adhesive tabs, to apply artificial nails.

The acrylic nails gained popularity among Hollywood celebrities and eventually became a fashion trend. 

Nail salons started offering acrylic nail services, and the demand for artificial nails continued to grow.

When Were Acrylic Nails Made?

Acrylic nails were first introduced by Frederick Slack as an alternative to natural nails in the early 1950s. However, with the passage of time, the nails got changed and went through various revolutionary phases.

Although the basic composition of synthetic nails, the acrylic material, remained the same but more and more new things, designs, shapes, and techniques were added to the acrylic manicure.

What Culture Or Race Invented Acrylic Nails?

Acrylic nails were not invented by a specific culture or race. The concept of artificial nails has been around for centuries and has been practiced by different cultures, races,s, and nations throughout history. 

For example, Ancient Egyptians used a form of artificial nails made from hard materials like bone, ivory, and gold. 

Moreover, the Ming Dynasty in China also saw the use of gum Arabic to create nail extensions.

Why Were Fake Nails Invented?

Fake nails were invented to provide a solution for individuals with weak or damaged nails and allow them to enjoy the appearance of healthy, well-maintained nails. 

Additionally, fake nails equip people with a creative outlet for self-expression, enabling them to try out different fashions and trends.

Fake nail manicures have become a staple in the beauty industry to serve both practical and cosmetic purposes.

When Was The First Acrylic Nail Salon Opened?

The history of acrylic nails and nail salons is somewhat debated, but the practice of applying artificial started years ago.

The first acrylic nail salon is assumed to have opened in the early 1970s. 

The exact date and location are not clearly documented but it is widely accepted that the concept of acrylic nails gained popularity during that time.

Who Made Acrylic Nails Popular?

Acrylic nails became popular among beauty lovers during the late 20th century, and their rise in fame can be attributed to numerous factors. 

It is difficult to give credit for the popularity of acrylic nails to a single individual as it was a collective effort of nail technicians, celebrities, and beauty influencers. 

  • Nail Technicians 

Nail technicians played a significant role in popularizing acrylic nails by introducing new styles, refining the techniques, and promoting them as a trendy and durable option for artificial nails. 

They expanded and perfected the application and maintenance methods and made acrylic nails more accessible and appealing to a vast audience.

  • Celebrities And Actors

Celebrities were also involved in their promotion by showcasing them on red carpets, in music videos, and in movies. 

Celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, and Cardi B have been seen flaunting glamorous acrylic nails which influenced their fans and followers to try out the craze themselves.

  • Social Media Platforms

Furthermore, beauty influencers and social media platforms played an essential role in spreading the use of acrylic nails.

Platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok enabled nail artists and enthusiasts to share their creations, tutorials, and nail care tips, reached a massive audience, and inspired them to try out these fake nail extensions.

What Is The History Of Acrylic Nails?

The acrylic material was introduced long ago, but In the 1950s, Frederick Slack began experimenting with using MMA to rebuild and strengthen patients’ natural nails. 

Till the end of the 1970s, nail salons started offering acrylic nail services to the general public. 

Technicians would mix the liquid monomer and powdered polymer to create a dense paste, which they would apply to the natural nails or nail tips.

The paste would harden into a solid and hard material when exposed to air. 

How Acrylic Nails Evolved Into Modern Manicure?

Development in acrylic nails started in Hollywood when actresses started showing interest in wearing fake nails to enrich their looks with a unique and stunning manicure.

Soon, their style was adopted by women from around the world. Moreover, it was a fortune for those with broken, damaged, or unattractive nails.

They could now repair, alter and customize their nails according to their own choice. 

Moreover, women could now better show off their beauty in various formal and casual events.  

But the main concern was non-expertise in the field of acrylic. Most of the women were unaware of doing acrylic nails at home. The issue was finely addressed by beauty professionals.

Over time, advancements in technology led to the development of improved acrylic nail products. MMA which is the original liquid monomer, was found to be potentially harmful and was gradually replaced by a safer acrylic liquid substitute called ethyl methacrylate (EMA).

EMA became the industry standard for liquid monomer in acrylic nail systems because it was less likely to cause skin irritations or allergies.

The introduction of colored acrylic powders and various nail art techniques enabled people for even more diverse designs and customization options.

Modern Acrylic Nail Techniques

In recent years, progress in acrylic nail techniques has continued to grow up. Nail technicians now use a variety of methods to apply and shape acrylic nails, including forms, tips, and overlays.

Forms serve as templates that are placed under the natural nail to create a tailored extension. 

Tips are already made plastic nail shapes that are aligned with the natural nail using glue to get a specific length.

Today, acrylic nails remain a popular choice for individuals looking to make better the beauty and resilience of their natural nails. 

They are commonly seen in various settings, including salons, fashion shows, and everyday life.

Although acrylic can provide aesthetic benefits, application and taking off acrylic nails should be performed carefully to secure the health and safety of the natural nails.


Did acrylic nails originate in Africa?

Well, it is not obvious that acrylic nails originated in Africa. However, some historians assume that wealthy women in Egypt had the habit of dressing themselves with long nail attachments that were prepared with teeth, bones, and other hard objects from animals and minerals. 

Who invented acrylic nail powder?

Most of the history goes around Dr. Stuart Northstrom, as he is considered the founder of acrylic nail powder. It was at the start of the 1970s when he, along with his colleagues, composed this chemical compound and modernized the vision of fake nails.

When did acrylics start?

Acrylic nails were properly started as manicures between 1970-1980. They were initially used as a solution for nail repairs, but their popularity grew quickly, which led the interest of beauty experts to the development of various acrylic nail procedures and styles.

Are acrylic nails ghetto?

No, referring to acrylic nails as “ghetto” is an unfair stereotype. Acrylic nails are a form of self-esteem and personal style that can be embraced by anyone, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status. 

Who invented gel nails?

The invention of gel nails is generally associated with dentists, who, in the 1980s, created a flexible dental resin that later inspired the development of the first gel nail enhancements. Over time, gel technology has evolved, and various brands and individuals have contributed to its advancements.


So I hope you’re now educated on the foundation, origin, and evolutionary journey of synthetic nails.

No matter who invented acrylic nails, the main point is they paved the way for beauty lovers to show themselves and express their creative skills in the form of attractive manicures. 

Moreover, those who brought acrylic nail art to new heights should also be given credit for motivating them to further innovations.

Thank You! 

Marissa Arnold

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