More Men Are Painting Their Nails Than Ever. Here's Why

Nail polish is often thought of as a feminine trend, but anyone can decorate their nails if they choose to do so. Lately, more and more men have been choosing to get manicures, and it's not just because gender norms are shifting — although that's part of it.

As Garrett Munce, the author of Self-Care for Men told The Guardian, men wearing nail polish has long been viewed as subversive, and has often been associated with certain music scenes like punk and emo. "Subcultures that generally embraced it all have one thing in common: to rebel against accepted standards," he said. "Since our culture has seen nail polish as feminine and marketed it exclusively to women for decades these cultures understood that a man wearing nail polish challenged that idea. They did it purposefully to make us think about what that means."

Munce — who is a nail polish wearer himself — said that many men from all walks of life have been wearing nail polish lately, which he attributes to the fact that "menicures" don't require much maintenance. "Anyone can paint their nails," he said. "It's a low risk thing to do because it takes little effort, apart from waiting to let the nails dry, and if you don't like it, it's easy to take off."

More men have been trying nail polish because of the pandemic

A lot of men have also been painting their nails — or having someone else paint them — because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has them choosing to experiment more during lockdowns. "I've heard from a few female friends that their boyfriends or husbands have let them paint their nails for the first time," said Munce. "Maybe out of boredom, but also maybe because on some level they were interested."

Nail art is also taking off among men, and is even becoming something of a status symbol. "Now nail art is more like one of the tools to make you cool, like tattoos or piercings or makeup," nail artist Mei Kawajiri told GQ. Among Kawajiri's clients are celebs like Travis Scott, A$AP Ferg, and Marc Jacobs.

Nail polish as a gender neutral trend is especially popular among Gen Z. "There's a lot less judgment nowadays," said skater, surfer, and model Evan Mock. "Who wants to listen to someone who says you can't paint your nails? It's so annoying."