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Nail polish on men is trending again. In the Seventies, artists like David Bowie and Lou Reed were wearing it, and men’s “subversive” self-expression began to really take off during this time period, although defying norms was not new. By the Nineties, Kurt Cobain and Billie Joe Armstrong were among the men who incorporated nail polish in their rock star personas and the trend continues today, with artists like Kid Cudi, Lil Nas X and others leading the way for nail trends and bold style choices.
Just this week, Machine Gun Kelly unveiled UN/DN LAQR, his new “genderless nail polish line,” inspired by “self-expression and creativity without commitment.”
MGK has long held his own on the red carpet, mixing unexpected fashion choices with a sense of humor. The same ethos applies to UN/DN LAQR, with the vegan and cruelty-free shades boasting names like “Bad Tendencies” (Blue), “Depressionist” (Black) and a “Nothing (Matte)rs” top coat. See the full collection at undnlaqr.com.
Last year, Harry Styles and Lil Yatchy both picked up the brush with their own nail polish brands: Yatchy introduced Crete in May, and Styles launched his brand Pleasing in November.
Does Nail Polish Look Good on Men?
Gender norms and rules are completely out the door, and in the past few years, we’ve seen an uptick in our favorite musicians, even outside of rock, embracing nail polish. From A$AP Rocky, to Bad Bunny, Harry Styles, and Lil Yachty, nail polish on men may finally stop being a trend and just become another simple style choice. Plus, they’re having fun with nail art, which is making it a lot more interesting than just regular, painted nails.
The men’s nail polish line, FACULTY, launched last year under the guise of “modern grooming for the new masculinity.” Launching with rich, deep shades of black, grey and moss (a dark green), FACULTY says its line of nail polishes for men was designed to “inspire connection, self-expression, daring, style, and confidence.”
Need more proof that nail polish for men is a thing? Lil Yachty recently launched his own nail polish line too, dubbed Crete, cementing that nail polish on men is on its way to becoming the norm.
If you want to get creative, why not try painting your nails? Whether you want them solid, or designed with nail art brushes, here are some of the best nail polish (in quality and color) for men to shop now.
1. Revlon Nail Enamel, Clear
If you’re new to the nail polish game, start off with a basic clear polish. Revlon’s is chip-resistant and easy to apply. It might make for good practice if you haven’t developed the steady hand yet for painting your own nails. Regular nail polish wearer or not, clear polish also serves as a great base for nail art, like how A$AP Rocky did his with hearts, a smiley face, and more.
2. OPI Nail Polish Mexico City Collection, Nail Lacquer, ‘Don’t Tell a Sol’
For the best nails, apply a clear base and top coat before your color. OPI is one of the most trusted brands out there. Its wide range of high-pigmented colors are available in most nail salons. OPI’s formulas are long-lasting and chip resistant; they normally will last up to seven days. This yellow color, Don’t Tell a Sol, from its Mexico City collection is bold and especially appropriate for the spring and summer.
3. OPI Nail Lacquer, Red Nail Polish, ‘Red Hot Rio’
There are so many red shades to choose from, but OPI’s Red Hot Rio is perfect. It’s a deep red that’s not too bright or dark, but is sure to grab people’s attention. For any nail polish, paint twice over for best results.
4. Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Nail Polish, ‘What’s Good’
Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Nail Polish is a healthy vegan alternative to many other nail polish brands. Its formula is treatment-enriched with 10 exclusive ingredients that promote strong nail health. The bright blue color, What’s Good, will look great on any nail. It provides ultra shine and cushion like a gel manicure without damaging the nails.
5. Essie Expressie Quick-Dry Vegan Nail Polish, Now Or Never, Black
Essie is another beloved nail brand used across countless salons and professionals. This vegan gel formula, Expressie, was designed to dry in just a minute. It also has an angled brush for easy use, whether you’re applying with your left or right hand. This one comes in 30+ shades, but Black is a necessity if you’re going to own nail polish for men –an ode to the rock stars who often donned dark shades and leather jackets to go with their dark nails.
6. Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Color, Limestone
For something brighter and less goth, Sally Hansen’s Limestone is a nice standout. This formaldehyde-free polish keeps nails healthy with pro-vitamin B5 and green tea ingredients. Embrace color and shine while maintaining strong nails.
7. ILNP Eclipse (H) – Black to Red Holographic Ultra Chrome Nail Polish
ILNP also offers a vegan, cruelty-free formula with no harmful chemicals, like the “toxic trio” toluene, formaldehyde, or dibutyl Phthalate, and more. The Eclipse Ultra Chrome color looks blackish red with hints of green, orange, and more. It’s a dark but fun color that gives an outer space effect, hence the Eclipse name.
8. Duri Nail Polish, 761 Glow Up, Deep Purple Blue Metallic Pearl Shimmer Lacquer
Another interesting polish to try is metallic. Duri’s metallic purple, Glow Up, also gives some futuristic vibes. It’s vegan and formulated without seven common toxins, including formaldehyde. If the purple doesn’t speak to you, they offer many other metallic options.
A nail polish brand seems like a no-brainer for Harry Styles, who has championed a new wave of gender-fluid fashion in pop music. His brand, Pleasing, recently made waves by tapping Mick Fleetwood as the face of the label. Pleasing mostly produces sets, which include multiple colors and even nail-sized decals to further decorate your hands. Plus, you can shop Pleasing with a clear conscience, as the brand uses formulas that are sustainable, biodegradable, and vegan, and the packages use recycled materials.