Bong-soong-ah (봉숭아) Korean Nail Dye

To decorate their nails, Korean women used to crush up petals and leaves from the bong-soong-ah (봉숭아) flower (or bong-seon-hwa (봉 선 화), create a paste with water, apply it and then wrap their nails with a protective cover. In the recent past, they tied each nail with plastic wrap to keep the paste from staining everything as the slept through the night. This is how long it took for the color to come out. Now we can buy a pre-crushed powder that dries onto the nail in 30 minutes. Ahhh, progress.

In this video, my mother-in-law applies my first ever coating of bong-soong-ah.


2 thoughts on “Bong-soong-ah (봉숭아) Korean Nail Dye

  1. A lot of girls just rub the petals on their fingernails throughout the day like some nervous habit. It leaves the fingertips orange for a couple of days, but the dye lasts a lot longer.

    1. You know that reminds me of when I first got to Korea. I remember seeing little girls with their yellow stained fingers and all I could think of was cigarette stains. The only time I had see yellowish fingers was on heavy smokers. Finally I asked a girl and she explained it. Talk about a cultural moment!

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