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Why Stigmas Against Men Wearing Nail Polish Shouldn't Exist


Posted on August 21 2019

OPI recently launched their "Will You Mani Up?" campaign, which aims to break through social norms and gender stereotypes. For the longest time, the nail industry has primarily targeted women. However, men have recently started their own trend, "male polish".

Until recently, makeup and nail polish were basically taboos connected to men. However, with influencers like Manny Gutierrez and James Charles getting makeup endorsement deals, beauty brands are becoming more inclusive. So what does this mean for the nail industry? Men wearing nail polish...it's not something you see very often, unless he's a rockstar or high profile musician. 

Although we have a long way to go in terms of "normalizing" men and nail polish, brands like OPI are taking steps in the right direction. We decided to try this with some of the guys on the Beyond Polish team and get their thoughts and reactions. This is what they had to say.

Kevin (Web Developer)

Kevin is wearing ORLY "Into The Deep" From The Dreamscape Collection.

Q: Was this your first time having your nails painted?

Kevin: Yes.

Q: What was the experience like for you?

Kevin: It was a new experience. I didn't know what to expect or how to act. I had a lot of fun. I really enjoyed getting pampered and having my nails taken care of. I understand why girls love it so much.

Q: What do you think about men who get their nails painted?

Kevin: More power to them. If it doesn't hurt anyone and it makes you feel good, then you should do it. It's all about having fun.

Q: What (if anything) did you take away from this experience?

Kevin: When my nail tech finished my nails, initially, I was scared of what other people thought of me. Then I realized I was giving too much credence to other people's opinions. I was letting people determine how I felt. Thus, my journey to self-confidence began.

Steve (Fulfillment Lead)

Steve is wearing ORLY "Air Of Mystique" from the Dreamscape Collection.

Q: Was this the first time having your nails painted?

Steve: Yes, it was my first time. I was honestly a little anxious at first because no one's ever really handled my hands like that in general, much less painted them so it was quite a novel experience. Once I actually sat down and started getting my manicure, I felt much more comfortable, especially with the laughs we were having and the kind words from everyone.

Q: Describe your experience being in public with painted nails. How did you feel? Did people treat you any differently?

Steve: No one has actually said anything to me yet so I can't say anyone has treated me differently. Most of the people I've shown (coworkers, friends, family) have been generally surprised but have kind of liked it. I assume it's mostly the color through. Lots of people staring at me for sure. I get double takes even when I'm driving on the road.

Q: Speaking of being in public, you recently went on a trip to Cabo and decided to leave your nails painted. Why did you decide to do that and describe your experience. Did people there treat you any differently? How did you feel?

Steve: Being in a large group helped, to be completely honest. I don't know if I would have left my nails painted if I was going to Cabo alone. Having supportive family and friends is a huge factor in choosing to keep it. I was surprised by the lack of reaction I got. I was sort of expecting to get called a name or two, or get some kind of reaction from at least one person, but it was mostly just people staring. 


Q: What are your thoughts about men wearing nail polish?

Steve: Hey man, if it looks good on you, go for it! I think it's really great that guys can start to explore some things that are traditionally feminine. My dad straight up said, "Man, if you did that a couple of years ago, you would get called all sorts of names." So it makes me happy that people are opening their minds.

Q: Why did you take part in this experience?

Steve: I'm always into trying new things that might expand my sense of style of fashion. Kind of to make a statement as well. I personally detest the idea of traditional "toxic" masculinity so it's always good to break the norms a little.

Q: Why did you take part in this experience?

Steve: I did it at first to kind of mess around. I thought it was a funny idea, but once the paint was actually on, I was like, "Hey, this doesn't look half bad!" And luckily my girlfriend is super supportive of me not being a traditional dude and kind of playing around with stuff like this so I actually got surprisingly positive responses from both her and my parents (my parents' reaction was a BIG surprise).

So what is the takeaway from all of this? Wearing nail polish does not have a gender attached to it. Ryan Morgan, co-founder of the hair dye brand Arctic Fox told Allure, "It is what it is. You're definitely no less masculine or feminine with nail polish and makeup on. That comes from within and who you are and how you are in the world more than what you put on."

The ORLY Dreamscape collection is now available online!

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  • Mike H: August 22, 2019

    I’ve been doing this for a year and really enjoy doing it. I get random comments here and there but overall no negativity.

  • Steve Winfield: August 22, 2019

    Thank You for this column! I began wearing nail color about 7 years ago. About 98% of the comments I hear are positive, complimentary, and supportive. I’m sure there are comments that I don’t hear.. whispered by cowards who are as afraid to be heard, as afraid to expose their prejudice, as they are afraid to defy a perceived social norms. The way I see it, “something associated with women” could only be “demeaning” or “shameful” for a man like me, if it were true (still, or ever, really..) that “women are inferior and worth less”. So, for me, people’s comments (positive and negative) say MUCH more about them, than about me.

    I LOVE wearing nail color, and I recommend that everyone man try it for himself!

  • Bruno Belanger: August 22, 2019
    It’s really nice to see young people break from such so called norms. Myself am a 58 year old male truck driver. And in the circle of people I’m around they wouldn’t be so supportive. In fact even the woman can be brutal. But nonetheless, I still paint my toes. I primarily use OPI and Orly. I do have a few others like gels but I haven’t used them yet. But you know I don’t stop there with nail polish. Because I’m so small finding clothes that fit me is difficult. So I order my clothes online. Jeans, tees tanks etc. All in woman’s sizes. They fit perfectly, and feel great.

    So lead the way team, break the stereotypes. why stop at nail polish. As I see it, if it’s good for one, it’s good for the other too. “Just be you” and love and respect yourself while doing it.

  • Bill Gorman: August 22, 2019

    I started wearing nail polish on my toes just over a year ago. My wife took me for a pedicure and I loved the experience and the look. Why should girls have all the fun? My wife and I think it looks clean and well groomed. She often buys me the color she wants me to try next. Lots of grays, blue’s and masculine colors. Rock it! It’s fun and looks great!

  • Beyond Polish: August 26, 2019

    Thank you all for sharing your thoughts & experiences with us! We were really excited for this campaign and we’re enjoying hearing your stories! Let’s keep it going!

  • Paul Sumner: November 10, 2019

    I experimented with makeup, coloured nails and feminine clothing during my student years, but quietly put it aside for many years to avoid what family and co-workers might say. In the past few years I’ve rediscovered my love for this, partly with encouragement of a friend who was aware of my taste in underwear, hair removal etc. I initially commented that I was jealous of her nail colour and she asked why I didn’t wear any if I liked the idea so much. She gave me the confidence to take that leap of faith, and I haven’t looked back. Initially I chose clear or natural shades predominantly, but inevitably my confidence has risen and often now opt for bolder colours, and wear them in social and work situations I wouldn’t have thought it would be acceptable. I’m loving it too!

  • Aaron Buser: November 25, 2019

    I’m tattooed, pierced and have been wearing nail polish to work, the gym and campus proudly since i was 19( i’m 23 by the way). it was scary at first, my brothers were embarrassed to be seen with me and i didn’t care at all. I like wearing nail polish and intend to do as long as i choose to, its empowering to know that there are other guys like me who wear it proudly.

  • Michael Rand: December 08, 2019

    I am so happy to see these testimonials about men wearing nail polish. Up until recently a man wearing nail polish would have been chastised or ridiculed but with the emergence of our younger men seeking their own way and sometimes blending the traditional roles of masculine and feminine, many older social mores are falling by the wayside. And frankly, it’s about time! I am a 73 yr old male who has worn nail polish on my toes for about two years. Since my favorite color is red, I don’t wear sandals primarily to please my wife who has gradually gotten used to the idea of my painted nails. She had difficulty in understanding why I’d want to wear nail polish. With me, there’s no deep seated psychological reason other than I think painted nails are pretty and I enjoy wearing the multitude of colors that are available.

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