Two recent releases have stoked the conversation about men’s nail care and all-around inclusivity in the beauty industry.
On November 15th, pop music artist Harry Styles launched a “life” brand called Pleasing, which includes a line of nail polish and facial products. Available as a set of four in The Perfect Polish Set are a pearlized white called Perfect Pearl; a clear with a subtle iridescence and a matte finish called Pearly Tops; a glossy, pearlescent black with a deep blue radiance called Inky Pearl; and a glossy, pearlescent pink called Granny’s Pink Pearls. Perfect Pearl and Pearly Tops can also be purchased separately, and all polishes are vegan, cruelty-free and 12-free. Pleasing as a brand seeks to “dispel the myth of a binary existence.”
Then, on December 2nd, rapper and singer Machine Gun Kelly launched UN/DN LAQR, a gender-neutral nail polish line with names like Mary Jane, Depressionist and Twenty Five to Life. Ten single colors are available, plus eight sets with three polishes each and three kits with six polishes and two nail art tools each. At the root of this line is self-expression, encouraging users to change up their polish to match their mood. All polishes are vegan, cruelty-free and 9-free.
It’s clear that these collections are making waves: Global online shopping marketplace LovetheSales.com saw a 420% increase in demand for “men’s nail polish” in the hours after the launch of UN/DN LAQR. Also during this time frame, the site saw a 137% increase in beauty searches for “male beauty products.”
“Thanks to musicians like Bad Bunny, Machine Gun Kelly and Harry Styles, they’re normalizing men getting manicures,” says nail artist Sigourney Nuñez. “It helps reinforce that nail art is gender-inclusive and that there should be no limitation on who gets to express themselves with a manicure.”
Edward Kutana, a Los Angeles-based stylist and member of our MODERN SALON 100 class of 2021, recently tried nail art for the first time. He had gotten a regular manicure with a solid color before, but after nail artist Sachie Pond showed him her work, he gave her artistic freedom to create a design. Now he’s hooked.
“It’s definitely helped me tap into my artistry more,” he says. “It just feels good taking care of someone else when you can see the self-care for yourself.”
Buthyna Abdueyah, owner of Blanca Beauty Bar in London, ON, Canada, says she typically does simple line work or a focus on one finger when it comes to men’s nail art. Matte top coat has also been very popular lately, giving a very subtle tone down look to the design underneath.
Manicure by Buthyna Abdueyah (@blancabeautybar) on a male client.
“The biggest misconception men have when sitting in my chair is that the manicure is going to hurt!,” Abdueyah says. “I perform Russian-style manicures where a lot of the cuticle is removed in order to lengthen the nail bed and ease gel polish application. Men typically have a little bit more cuticle to remove depending on how they use their hands, so it can be quite intimidating seeing a lot of skin being lifted and removed.”
With brands like Pleasing and UN/DN LAQR changing the conversation around men’s manicures and nail art, a look at inclusivity across the board will be needed.
“When brands create a product or collection, there’s always a target audience they want to design and delight for,” says Nunez. “This includes everything from the shade names to the campaign imagery and social content. All of it needs to be inclusive so that anyone can picture themselves wearing that shade regardless of how they identify.”
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