Wednesday, 16 February 2011

1940's nails

The past week I have tried, but not succeeded, in making a 1940's half moon manicure. To paint the half moon isn't that hard to do free hand, but to remove a sliver of polish from the top of the nail only ends up being very messy. Oh well, practise makes better, I hope.

Fortunately you could paint the whole nail too in the forties. Rita Hayworth, for example was known for her long, completely painted nails. Here is a close-up of her hands from the movie Blood and Sand from 1941.

I was quite delighted to find out from Vintage Baroness and Elegant Musings that red and pink weren't the only colours one could wear on your nails in the thirties and forties. I have actually read in book from the time of women with nail lacquered in silver or green, but it's nice to see colour charts too. Unfortunately I can't recall the actual titles, but I knew which authors, Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie. And the unusual nails are used as a marker for a woman who isn't exactly a little homemaker... Good news for me, who likes unusual nail polishes, but isn't all that fond of red. I will have opportunity to wear my blue evening gown soon and I think I shall match it with blue nails. Bad news is that most of my nail polishes are glittery or frosted and nail polishes in the forties were what is now called creme. Well, perhaps not truly bad news, as it will give me an excuse to buy some new polishes. I really love Rescue Beauty Lounge which has a lot of unusual creme polishes and an excellent quality.

Alla kvinnors bok as well as a beauty book from 1946 I have, that have belonged to my grandmother Skönhet (Beauty) by Vivan Huber both describes how to do a manicure.

A manicure back then was rather like a manicure today, soaking the nails in in warm water, shaping them, pushing back the nail bands, apply hand creme and then, of one wish, nail polish. The shape preferred was an almond shape and usually not very long nails. A few things differ from 1944 and 1946, like the use of base and top coat. Sweden was neutral during the war, but there were difficulties getting luxury items anyway and i guess such things as base and top coats just weren't aviable in 1944. And some things differ from then and now. It is recommended to clean under the nails with a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide. I have tried that now for some weeks now and it does turn the nail a little lighter in colour. Lemon juice could be used for that as well. Another thing that differs is the use of "nail powder", a polishing powder that you rubbed into your nails before you polished them with a polishing pad. I wonder what it was made of.

For those of you who would be interested in making your own 1940's hand cremes, here are a few recipes:

A quick way to soft hands
Mix together lemon juice, rosewater and glycerol and massage into the hands.

To soften and withen the hands
2 egg yolks re whipped together, then stir in;
2 tablespoons almond oil
30 g of rose water
2 g of tincture of benzoin
Turn a pair of gloves inside out and dip them in the cream, turn them right and put them on and then sleep in them. I would use rubber gloves, back then gloves made of what is called ""laundryleather"" was used. I'm not quite sure of what that was.

Hand creme
2 g of wheat starch
2 g of distilled water
18 g of glycerol
1 g of rose oil
Stir in a water bath until it is smoothly creamy. Take of the heat and continue to stir until cold.


petalrose said...

Very interesting thankyou, I had no idea women in the forties used that manicure technique!

Erin said...

Have you tried cleaning up your manicure using a small paintbrush and pure acetone? It's strong, but I've heard of people doing it this way.

Isis said...

petalrose: Glad you enjoyed the post!

Erin: I know about it, but haven't tried it. I need to get a good paintbrush for it. :) said...

I have instructions for how to do a manicure in Norway in 1918. 1918 and 194X are different worlds, but it might still be of interest.

The .pdf is rather big and might therefore take a while to load.

Casey said...

I think it was the most exciting "discovery" ever for me when I found that ad with all those nail polish colors! I mean, I do love a good red nail color myself, but am not one to be confined when it comes to these sorts of things. ;) I've been sporting everything from a pale pink to a deep, dark blue lately--and they happily work with my 40s looks!

Oh, and my sympathies about struggling with a half moon manicure... I still haven't mastered it (not to mention I'm so hard on my hands that it's silly for me to put too much work into a manicure). :p Have you checked YouTube for videos? I do recall a couple of instructional ones on how to achieve the half moon look...

♥ Casey

Isis said...

Snusmumriken: Thank you! That was very interesting to read! I knew that women tinted their nails before nail polishes were invented in the twenties, but I had no idea how they did it. I wonder what that liquid enamel really was- I get the feeling it wasn't really made for nails, but had more purposes. And I wonder what was in the nailpowder too!

Casey: Yes, you did a great find there!

Youtube, of course! I still haven't get used to the idea of finding a video, so I tend to forget that option. I shall go and have a look. :)

The Zany Housewife said...

I'm actually looking to try this in the coming week for my Monday feature...and I'm a little scared. lol. I've looked around online and in some random books I have but it seems like it's going to be a lot of work regardless. I do love the look of it here's hoping it works...

Now, where can you find some of the items you mentioned above (like benzoin)? I'd love to try that too.

Isis said...

Zany: I look forward to see your take on it! I think shops for aromatherapy is a good bet for oils and benzoin. Rose water can be found in stores for oriental food (I found it in my local supermarket, but then I'm in Sweden, so it may not apply for you)

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