Nail care 1930s

Today's subject from the Dutch book 'Moderne schoonheids en gezondheids verzorging', written by Anka Welman in the 1930s, are nails. Anka says:

"You can not change much about the shape of your hands, but you cán change the shape of the nails and this can make even poor looking hands beautiful. In choosing the shape of the nails, one should have to take into consideration the shape of one's hands but, women who carry out household work, work on the typing machine or play the piano, can not afford long nails because with the constantly breaking of the nails, the hands will not look fancy. For these women, the oval shape, which ends just above the fingertip, is the most appropriate.

In the first place, one should never wash the hands without brushing the nails at the same time, and thus keeping them clean at all times. If the nails are very affected as a result of dirty chores, then one should dip the fingetips in oil and rub the nails with pumicestonepowder. 

 To the second or third day, the edges of the nails should be filed alittle and, after you have tipped a bit of Lanoline on the nails, rubbed thorougly with a nail polissoir or a piece of Chamois leather. This makes the simplest manicure, which asks little of your time and tools, done.

One should avoid working with a strong soda solution. Soapy water is harmful for the nails. With very dirty work, such as lightning the stove, polishing shoes and silver one should wear gloves. Before one begins with such work, one can scratch over a piece of soap with the nails to stock up the nail edge in such a way, that it prevents the penetration of dirt going under the nails. This allows a more thorough and easier cleansing at the subsequent handwashing.

In the interest of the nails, one should never grab hot objects such as a hot pan, stove buttons etc. with an unprotected hand, because this negligence lets behind it's trace on the nail corners."

"Before starting a manicure, soak the nails five minutes in warm water with a little Borax or glycerine (a tablespoon on a fourth liter of water). With very neglected nails, one can also use a neutral soapy water. When finished, the nails should be brushed thoroughly and well dried in the usual way.

With this preparation, the cuticles become so smoothly, that they can easily be loosened from the  nail bed with your thumb nail. In addition to the simplicity, this is less dangerous when it comes to injuring the skin, than when one would do this with a little iron nail instrument. Afterwards, the nails can be cut into the desired shape (don't cut the corners too deep) and filed with a nailfile to make the roundness of the edges more even. 

Women who do a lot of household chores or dirty chores, are not advised to use nailpolish. With such work, the polish will flake off easily and the nails become stiff, which gives it not exactly an aesthetic impression. Also for women who smoke alot, it is not recommendable to use nailpolish, because both the underlying nail aswell as the polish will adopt a dirty brown color which is not easy to remove. If women, who smoke, cannot get their nails clean with oil and ground pumice stone, it is recommendable to wrap the nails for five to ten minutes in a cotton cloth which is soaked in 3% of hydrogen peroxide.

After the manicure, the nails should be well greased to prevent them to become  brittle. If you use nailpolish, remove the old layer with acetone before using again. The lunula (nail moon) and nail edges should not be painted red but be left in their original color."


  1. It's interesting, isn't how making one's manicure last longer has been a concern since the earliest days of painted nails. Though gels exist now, for those who don't want to go that route (and to date, that's a camp I've fallen into), it's almost amazing that there hasn't been a polish developed yet that really and truly stays on well for many, many days. Whoever strikes upon that is certain to end up a very wealthy man or woman!

    ♥ Jessica

  2. I love the moon manicure but haven't been able to get into leaving the tips bare. I'm too concerned with breakage and peeling and want my nails thoroughly coated.

  3. I love vintage advice, thanks for sharing!


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