Everything You Need To Know About TikTok's 'Red Nail Theory'

More men are painting their nails now than ever, but it's been overwhelmingly stereotyped and marketed as a women's trend. So any time a guy notices your nails, it can be pretty jarring. "You?" "Looking at the set I'm personally obsessed with?" You have to wonder what it is that makes some nails stand out to the generally less interested sex. TikTok creator @girlbosstown did. Her hypothesis on what nails attract men the most went viral as the #rednailtheory.

In the TikTok that sparked the now mainstream trend, @girlbosstown says, "everytime I have red nails ... a guy comments on it." Her explanation is that " ... in the '90s when we were growing up, women had red nails a lot. Especially like, our moms ... I weirdly think guys are attracted to red nails because it reminds them of their moms when they were growing up taking care of them."

With over 150 million views of the hashtag #rednailtheory, people are clearly fascinated by this Freudian speculation.

The trend spurred mixed opinions

TikTok users have been testing out the red nail theory and posting their results. TikTok creator @melissemartineau claimed she was asked on more dates than ever during her three weeks with ruby red nails. Meanwhile, @paulinat noticed tons of men smiling at her at the gym after she painted her nails crimson. However, not everyone is excited about the trend.

Grazia UK very bluntly titled an article "The 'Red Nails Theory' And Why You Shouldn't Pay Any Attention To It." In it, writer Sameeha Shaikh criticizes the trend saying, "I'm the first to book a manicure with news of a new trend, but all for the sake of a man's compliment? On this occasion, I will politely pass."

Some iterations of the red nail theory have taken the focus off of the male gaze. In conversation with Allure, manifestation expert Bri Luna explained that your nail color can enhance your manifesting powers, saying, "beauty rituals such as manicures can help boost your self-confidence, which in turn is helpful in setting an intention." 

You can solidify your goals and use your nails as a reminder by choosing a color that symbolizes your desires. So if you want to find love, red nails could help you keep this goal in mind.

Is there any truth to the red nail theory?

Research shows that the red nail theory does actually have some scientific evidence to back it up. Well, the part where men are more attracted to the color red. The Oedipus complex bit has yet to be substantiated with any solid evidence.

Per Verywellmind, red excites everyone, not just men. Due to the size of its wavelength, red appears more vivid than any other color on the color spectrum save yellow, says the source. However, our specific reaction to red is impacted by cultural influences.

Well+Good interviewed dating expert and psychologist Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., to get the scoop on the cultural and psychological factors playing into the red nail theory. Manly told Well+Good, that because red has historically been correlated with romance and eroticism, men are inclined to find red nail polish more alluring. Manly supported this by saying, "in fact, research shows that men unconsciously find women more attractive when they wear red."

So could wearing red nail polish increase the male attention you get? It very well could. However, Manly offered up some great advice. If you're considering trying the trend and "... you find yourself creating a look that makes you feel inauthentic or uncomfortable, you may be in danger of shapeshifting to please others." So if you like red nails, get red nails. If you don't, embrace your unique style and stick to what you love.