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Nail Polish And The Return Of ‘Menicure’

By Akinwale Akinyoade
28 June 2021   |   9:45 am
It appears it is time to embrace the ‘menicure' because whether or not we like it, more and more men are beginning to explore the beauty of painting their nails. Long gone are the days of gender stereotypes when beauty concerns were considered a strictly female affair. If there is anything we can all agree…

Nail Polish And The Return Of ‘Menicure’

It appears it is time to embrace the ‘menicure’ because whether or not we like it, more and more men are beginning to explore the beauty of painting their nails.

Long gone are the days of gender stereotypes when beauty concerns were considered a strictly female affair. If there is anything we can all agree on when it comes to fashion, it is the fact that it is ever-evolving and it is not unusual for us to have trends that get us raising our eyebrows.

At the moment, men painting their nails seems to be the hit trend and it is being called the ‘manicure.’ When you bring this trend down to Nigeria, black nail polish is the cool thing for guys opting to paint their nails.

You may have come across guys sporting painted black nails and if you have not, chances are you have seen it on some celebrities.

The likes of Fireboy, Peruzzi, Oxlade, and co-founder of Paystack Ezra Olubi are some of the popular names that have rocked black nail polish.

On the international scene, A$AP Rocky, ASAP Ferg, Jaden Smith, Bad Bunny, Zac Efron, Brad Pitt, Jared Leto, and Harry Styles are some names that have been associated with wearing nail polish.

As much as we may want to believe that men painting their nails black is a new trend, it actually is not. If we take a walk down history lane, we would realise that it was normal for men back in the days.

Men have been wearing nail polish since 3,200 B.C. Following the excavation of royal tombs at Ur of the Chaldees in southern Babylonia, it was reportedly discovered that most men during that era wore nail polish.

The colours were used to represent the man’s status and class in society. Men in the upper class (like warriors and leaders) wore darker colours of nail polish while men in the lower class wore the lighter colours.

In fact, prior to battle, warriors would take hours to primp and paint their nails. It is said that in China, in 3,000 B.C., the higher class also wore nail varnish regardless of gender while in Egypt, people of all classes were encouraged to paint their nails, again with the colour denoting status.

Whether you want to blame it on the growing acceptance of gender fluidity or simply the rise of metrosexuality, there is a shifting return to men wearing nail polish.

It may still connote femininity to a lot of people but the men wearing it are shrugging off the stigma and the progressive millennial generation is helping loosen that stigma’s grip.

Even beauty companies are leaning into the trend and already catering to men’s beauty needs. Rihanna’s beauty line, Fenty Beauty, recently launched skincare products for men and other longtime players are doing the same. The chances are we’ll be seeing more inclusion of men in the manicured space as well.

So, to the big question, why do men paint their nails? For many, the answer is simple, why not? It is a form of self-expression and because they can, they do it.

For some, nail painting started during the pandemic to kill boredom and experiment with something new but nail polish as a gender-neutral trend has especially become popular among Gen Z.

When it comes to grooming and fashion, men tend to be more concerned about their appearance than all else so nail polish is a cool way of sprucing things up.

There is also the trickle-down effect from famous people. Young people tend to have one famous person or two that they look up to and chances are if a cool pop or film star tries a trend, his/her fans are likely to be inclined to try it out as well.

With many famous names already on the trend of men using nail polish, it is not surprising to see more men embracing the idea as well.

Historically, nail polish among men has been used to be an indication of status and place in society. So it won’t be unusual now for men to paint their nails black as a way of displaying their status and help them stand out in a crowd.

Lastly, the days of living in absolutes are slowly going behind us and as such manicured nails are not only for females, the men also deserve to have fun and colour in their lives so if nail polish does that, why not? After all, most people’s issue with nail polish has to do with gender expectations.

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