Many men have had a long history of self-care rituals that included waxing their beards, plucking their eyebrows and getting a massage. They are now embracing a new grooming practice: the manicure.
Nail art for men has become a popular trend in celebrity circles. This includes the likes A$AP Rocky and Post Malone as well as Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson, and the rapper Bad Bunny. Salons now report a wider range of clients.
Amy Lin, founder and CEO of Sundays Studio, a New York-based wellness nail bar, said that clients come from all walks of life: “From a father with a five year-old daughter to a business consultant, from men who work at a creative agency, to a father with a wife and a child.”
Major fashion brands are joining the ranks. Chanel’s men’s cosmetics line Boy De Chanel was expanded last week to include two nail varnish colors for men: natural and black. Garrett Munce, Esquire’s grooming editor and author of Self Care for Men, believes that painted nails no longer represent a subversive style. They were once worn by Lou Reed and Kurt Cobain, and are now common in music scenes such as punk, glamrock, and grunge. Munce says that all subcultures that embrace it have one thing in common. They rebel against the accepted norms. “Our culture has marketed nail polish exclusively to women for decades and saw it as feminine. These cultures now see that a man wearing polish is a challenge to that notion. They did it deliberately to challenge our understanding of what this means.”
Munce, who usually wears dark-coloured varnish to his nails, said he sees “a lot of regular men with nail polish nowadays”. He believes that the low maintenance of “menicures,” is why they are so popular. He said that anyone can paint their nails. “It’s easy and low-risk. You don’t have to wait for the nails to dry. If you don’t like the look, you can easily take it off.”
Lockdown has allowed men to explore trends that they didn’t know existed. He said that a number of female friends have told him that their husbands or boyfriends let them paint their nails. “Maybe boredom, but maybe also because they were interested on some level.”
Aldwyn Boscawen is the founder of Aldwyn & Sons, the UK’s first men’s pedicure salon. The business was started by two Fitzrovia brothers. “The pandemic increased everyone’s awareness about hygiene and grooming.” He says that men need to feel the same about their self-care and wellbeing.