Men wearing nail polish isn’t just a growing trend; it’s a statement of self-expression. Here’s why guys with nail polish—and those into in beauty and grooming—should do as they please.
Let’s consider the economy. Men have the potential to add multi-billions to the beauty and self-care industries. Yet at the moment, these markets largely neglect to tap into this demographic.
That said, male-targeted skincare sales have bumped up seven percent in the last year alone, according to the NPD Group’s iGen Beauty Consumer report.
As the men’s grooming market continues to broaden, one trend we love to see more is men wearing nail polish.
When we start to break down the concept of nail polish—or any cosmetic product for that matter—it starts to lose its binary bond. When products are made to enhance the human body, feel fun and colorful, and allow for personal expression, where does gender identity come into play? Why is nail polish geared towards only the female-identifying? We all can enjoy color and we all have nails, right?
We’re starting to see more male-identifying people wearing nail polish. It’s being recognized for what it is: a form of accessorizing. Accessories are a simple form of expression. They allow us to alter the basic framework of our appearance and typical garb, and give it our own unique self-realization. It’s a freedom.
This is a beautiful thing to all men with an urgency to self-fulfill, actualize, and express. These men identify as male. They are actors, athletes, businessmen, and manual laborers.
Nail color is fun. Wearing nail polish can give men (and women alike) a feeling of control, of strength in vulnerability, of softness, of edge.
Here’s what two guys who choose to wear nail polish have to say on the matter.
For Cambryan Sedlick, a 20 year-old skateboarder living in Los Angeles, wearing nail polish as a man is at once an inspiration, a tribute, and a rebellion.
“Still to this day, after four years [of wearing nail polish], I still get questioned about my painted nails with a disgusted look on [people’s] faces, whether it’s gas station workers or fellow skateboarders. Masculinity continues to be a trained subject in society.
“I started painting my nails after watching one of my favorite skaters, Dylan Rieder, as a teenager. It’s stuck with me throughout the years. It’s something that has developed into a comfort for me. I will continue to paint them—something about that look on judgmental people’s faces only makes me want to paint them more.”
For Matthew Ripley, a 34-year old brewer living in San Diego, it’s a mixed bag. It’s nostalgia, closeness to friends and family, and a connection to something softer, expressive, and calming.
“I started painting my toes as a kid. My sister hated all the activities I was interested in, so she would always suggest we do pedicures. I was the baby and just wanted to hang out [her], so I was always down. Over the years, it became a coveted bonding experience.
“As I got older, I found myself doing it with female friends and roommates. It was a fun way to relax with the ladies, experiment with funky colors and designs, and get the latest ‘tea,’ of course.
“A few years ago, my girlfriend took me to a salon to get my first professional pedicure. It was so relaxing to have someone else take the reins. I especially loved the foot massage part. I remember people thinking it was strange for me to get a gel design instead of basic clear nail polish, but I thought, how boring would that be?
“As far as society is concerned, I don’t think of nail painting as a gender-specific activity. To me, it doesn’t matter if you’re male, female, nonbinary, etc. Looking down at my feet and finding a pop of color makes me happy. It’s a unique way to express yourself and spark joy. Who doesn’t want to chase that?”
We tend to agree with Matthew’s parting words. No one should withhold any form of self-expression or joy for the sake of unsubstantiated tradition or conformity—and men wearing nail polish is no exception.
No matter how one identifies, we shouldn’t need permission or approval from others to color our bodies—and our lives—as we wish.