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Men have been wearing nail polish for decades: David Bowie did so during his Ziggy Stardust era, for example, and Kurt Cobain’s “nailed” his grunge vibe with chipped nail polish.
But the trend has really taken off in recent years, especially among celebs: Brad Pitt sported a colorful manicure at the 2015 Palm Springs International Film Festival. Harry Styles rocked green and blue nails at the 2019 Met Gala, and A$AP Rocky showed off bold nail art at Milan Fashion Week later that year.
Bad Bunny, meanwhile, told Twitter followers a few years ago that he was turned away from a Spanish nail salon for being a man.
“I’m not telling people, ‘Hey, paint your nails or color your hair, do this or do that,’” the Puerto Rican rapper told Paper in 2019. “I’m simply saying… do what makes you happy, and to never limit yourself.”
(And other famous fellas — including Zac Efron, pictured above — paint their nails as part of the Polished Man protest, which spotlighting violence against children.)
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But not all men are fans of the trend. “Does anyone else find guys painting their nails a huge turn-off?” one person asked in a recent Reddit thread in the r/askgaybros subreddit. “I have noticed a lot of guys tend to painting their nails — I have no problem with people expressing themselves and have nothing against it. However, out of curiosity, does anyone else find this a massive turn-off and find it a dealbreaker? Or am I paying too much attention to the small details?”
Here’s a sampling of replies (which we’ve “polished” for clarity and readability).
Some guys are turned off by guys with nail polish.
“I don’t like how painted nails look — on women or men or [nonbinary individuals]. Not my vibe.”
“I don’t get it, and it immediately turns me off.”
“Black nails remind me of rotten nail beds and make it difficult to tell whether they are clean. Men’s nails are usually not that clean, and that’s… a bad thing for our activities.”
“Usually, when a man paints their nails, they just paint them all black, and even that is a huge turn-off for me. Just to be clear, I am 100% against gender norms. This is solely a matter of what I personally find to be attractive versus unattractive, which is something I have no control over.”
“I do [find it a turn-off], which is weird because I like feminine guys.”
Related: Gay high schooler suspended for nail polish tears into local school board at public hearing
Some take it case by case.
“I don’t mind it if the nails are short and painted solid colors like black or maroon, but long, sparkly, pointy ones are definitely a turn-off for me.”
“If a man got acrylics, hard pass. But white or black fingernails? I couldn’t care less.”
“Depends on the color.”
Related: Nail polish is the secret to this cute college track star’s success
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And it’s a total turn-on for others.
“I don’t like it aesthetically, but it’s actually a turn-on for me, him being confident in his sexuality and appearance.”
“I like it, and think it looks great if they have the confidence to pull it off. I see mostly younger guys doing it, and they tend to be more open-minded in their self-expression, which is a turn-on.”
“I appreciate LGBTQ+ people who dress in ways that express themselves. Partly because I really enjoy people who find ways to say ‘f*ck the system’ and live their own life apart from heteronormative gender norms, but mostly because I love the self-expression. It’s kind of like being an artist and using yourself as a canvas. I love it!”
“I think it’s kinda hot.”
“I’m a very masculine guy, and I love to mix it up and paint my nails. It takes confidence and pride to stand tall in who you are. … It makes homophobes angry, and it makes everyone else’s day! If I can make people happy and others questions their own values based off paint, then yes, I’m going to do it. I also value a man who has that much self-confidence to say, ‘This is me, I’m going to be myself and if you don’t like it, sort that sh*t out!’ It speaks volumes.”
The thing is, nail polish doesn’t look that good on short nails, it’s not even about being a male… Honestly, I don’t care that much if it’s a matte nail polish, but those shiny colors are definitely a turn-off for me.
Sloppily painted chipped nails are not attractive on any gender.
Turn-ons and Turn-offs are fairly subjective and differ from person to person. Debating what is and isn’t a turn-on just seems like a waste of time.
wrong. anything fem is a turn off.
@CatholicXXX Anything catholic is a turn-off Hank31. Did Cam take the rest of the year off from his troll hunting duties?
In the gender binary masculinity and femininity are attracted to each other and not themselves. So in being turned off by all things feminine and attracted to masculinity you must be feminine yourself.
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head (no pun intended) when you say that anything subjective cannot/should not be debated. All one can do is basically express an opinion on the subject, and live their truth.
For me, they are not a turn off, but they’re not a turn on, either, although chipped nail polish isn’t particularly appealing, but some of the overly decorated nails, male, female or other, are equally hideous to me.
Agree. Waste of time “debating” something that is not of your concern. If you like men or women with painted nails – seek them out. If you don’t, seek others out.
Sorry, but not a fan of men with painted nails. I find it a huge turn-off.
What women do to beautify themselves is up to them – that doesn’t bother me as I have no sexual attraction to women.
You seem to be lost. Just like women, what men do to beautify themselves is up to them. No one needs or is seeking your approval
@cliche guevara: “No one needs or is seeking your approval”
Nor was I giving it! I clearly spoke to MY OWN likes and MY OWN dislikes in keeping with the theme of the article. I don’t remember forcing my own preferences down anyone’s throat!
Your issue isn’t with me it’s with the second paragraph of your comment. I it’s pointed out the absurdity of what you said.
Get a therapist, who likes a challenge
Is there anything men do to beautify themselves that you don’t like?
prior to the last decade and a half men didnt shave any part of their bodies BUT their face so are yu attracted to very hairy men? I am but find I am in the minority which is fine
@barryaksarben more like the past 20 years. As somebody who has been a little extra hairy his whole life I find hairless male bodies kind of gross. Especially when there are no pubes and underarm hair. Maybe being teased growing up for being hairy, was called teen wolf in HS, informed my opinion on the matter. Or maybe it’s just a thing I naturally am fond of. Either way I will always prefer a hairy man over a hairless one. Having facial hair is a great bonus.
This article dishonestly focuses on a few celebrities who are going for a new “look.” The vast majority of men who wear nail polish are not celebrities developing a “Ziggy Stardust” persona. Something else is going on. Gay and bi men, who are not David Bowie or Harry Styles, who wear nail polish are very likely effeminate men who are striving to look like women. That’s why it’s repulsive and a huge red flag.
Are you saying nail polish will work like kryptonite on people like you? If so you are doing more to encourage men wearing nail polish than Bowie ever did.
@cliche guevara LMAO
I think all gay, bi, queer+ men should be sent a complimentary nail polish care package as a Hank31 deterrent. Way more effective than a r*pe whistle or pepper spray.
As usual, Hank31’s hysteria around gender sends him off the rails. Quite a few cis-hetero (i.e., conventionally straight presenting heterosexual) men, who are not trying to be women, wear painted nails these days.
Pete Davidson, Dwyane Wade, A$AP Rocky, Post Malone, Bad Bunny, etc. all wear nail polish at times. Straight men have been wearing nail polish in various music subcultures (punk, glam rock, grunge, heavy metal, etc.) for some time.
Dude, get help for your gender panic and fragility. The warning bells are ringing off the charts.
Wait until he finds out the women are allowed to wear pants. His pretty little head is going to pop.
@SpiderBaby If you would read my comment, I did not say that we should mindlessly and unthinkingly interpret every usage of polish in every context as an indication of effeminacy. I said that, when worn by G/B men, it *likely* indicates effeminacy and is a red flag. “Red flag” does not mean “mindlessly reject.” It means “beware and proceed with extreme caution.” So if one were to encounter a genuine exception, an outlier, someone like yourself who used polish as a tool to overcome a bad habit which followed quitting smoking, one could use his brain to assess the situation and conclude that the polish is not an indicium of gender deviance in that particular case. But tbh, there aren’t going to be a lot of outliers like you.
Hank dude how freaking old are you. Im 65 and I learned two years ago that kids in elementary schools across the nation are filled with boys in nail polish at every age . My great nephew’s first grade class is nothing but kids in nail polish which did surprise me at first but my niece says all the parents are cool with it since they are of an age that hated being forced into stereotypical gender roles even her republican husband is fine with it. GO to a high school in any city (Im not sure it would be in the country towns) and you will see most kids wearing it. Like ALL trends – because it IS a trend it will grab hold for awhile or not or stay or not and you wither like it or not but it out there in the general population as all things from Hollywood and sports and music filters its way down to the lowest rungs of society as they always have
We should trust Hank31 when it comes to “red flags”. Consulting Urban Dictionary the phrase “red flag” means: “A ‘red flag’ is a term used to describe when somebody has a feeling that they are potentially dealing with a manipulative and/or possibly psychotic or sociopathic individual.”
Example: Hank31’s obsession and rage with “gender deviance” in men is a red flag that he’s a phucking nutter who will probably end up killing a femme gay/bi/queer man or trans woman for hitting on him.
I can say with 150% certainty I DO NOT wear nail polish because I am effeminate or “striving to look like a woman”. (I should also be clear that there is NOTHING wrong with being effeminate or striving to look like a woman, either.)
My reason for having painted nails is boring, at best. A life-long nail biting habit was eventually quelled by a nasty smoking habit. Said smoking habit was nipped in the bud, to the obvious and eventual detriment of my nails.
I paint my nails to help with a habit. Plain and simple. It’s worked wonders and I haven’t bitten my nails in almost four years. I should also add, I receive nothing but compliments on them.
@barryaksarben I don’t think your claims about the prevalence of polish-wearing boys is remotely true and you offer no reason to think that it is.
But, for the sake of argument, let’s say that the US was to witness a widespread fashion shift towards nail polish for males, such that it becomes a majority practice. What of it? In that instance, wearing nail polish would no longer be an indication of effeminacy. My comment above thus would no longer apply. Other forms of dress or other behaviors would become markers of effeminacy.
You aren’t scoring some huge point here. No one has ever claimed that the *specific* markers of effeminacy remain identical across time and geography and culture (although a few are near-universal). The specifics can change or vary, but the distinction b/t masculine and effeminate forms of dress and fashion is always there.
@SpideyBaby. I nominate you for the humanitarian of the year award for that info about how nail polish has helped you overcome nail biting. I’ve never noticed painted nails on a man that I thought was attractive, but I will have to give your method a try. (Before someone has a hissy fit, even though I have never found men’s polished nails attractive, I totally support those who choose to paint theirs. If only painted nails could be the biggest issue I had with other people’s choices)
Hank probably believes that men have short hair and women have long hair.
The 1950s have been over a long time. It’s quit the “norms” and move on.
Isn’t it the “norms” that have moved on? (I do understand what you meant, even if it took awhile) Whether it is called a trend or a fad (anyone have any Pet Rocks?), it all changes into something else, or disappears completely, after a time. Sometimes that time is short, and other times could be a relatively longer time, and might need a shake-up to get it to move on (ala Newton’s Law of Motion) .
“There is nothing so constant as change” is one of the truest sayings ever spoken/written.
My High School English/drama teacher was a very attractive young woman who wore very long, polished nails (I later suspected her of being LGBTQIA+ years later, after I understood some of the things I heard in passing while near her and schoolmates) but while I can admit to what might have been seen as a crush at the time, nothing about her physical features “turned me on”, but the length of her nails, and they trouble they often gave her, sometimes made me wonder why she even bothered, so super-long nails could be said to be a turn-off for me, no matter who is wearing them.
@Jaquelope I actually have a pet rock LOL Well it’s a pet rock on a leash. Which is just a small rock they attached a necklace to. It’s from the same company that made the regular ones. They are from the 70s or early 80s. Bought a lot of them off eBay to give to people as gag gifts.
The thing about fads is that they have a history of making a return to pop culture relevance many years later. Just look at Tamagotchis.
I’m somewhere in the middle ground with this. I find the long *ss nail extensions that are extremely adorned a turn-off with women so it’s even more so with men. However I’ve seen really short ones that aren’t too bad.
Naturally short or long-ish painted nails don’t often bother me. I let mine grow slightly out because what’s also a turn-off are nails bitten or cut so short they go past the hyponychium almost down to the lunula.
I used to paint my nails back in the day to genderf*ck my appearance. At my brother’s wedding I wore the colors they chose for the theme and I remember my one aunt freaking out and the priest giving me the side eye.
At the end of the day there are so many more important things to consider when it comes to these kinds of things. It’s an entertaining, superficial thought experiment but it shouldn’t be more than that.
I agree with you
Now I’m questioning my sexual orientation. Are “hyponychium” and “lunula” words only a truly gay man would know? I hate it when you guys make me go to the dictionary.
@OpenMinded I wouldn’t know. I’m not gay. That’s just anatomical terminology for certain parts of the nail.
Years ago I had a nosy coworker who told me I should go see a doctor because the ridges on my nails could be sign of illness or something. So before running to my PCP I consulted Dr. Google first. I’m somewhat of a random information junkie so I ended up down a rabbit hole.
Do what makes you happy. I cannot believe there are so many judgmental queens on here? We all know as lgbtq individuals what it feels like to be judged. Why continue this toxicity?
Bullies always have low self-esteem. So these guys must be in a bottomless pit of self-loathing and worthlessness.
Misery loves company is about the only excuse for it, I guess.
Well, isn’t that what they’re trying to start? What triggers “turn off” or “attraction” in someone is completely subjective, involuntary and shouldn’t involve any kind of judgment. And in day to day life that’s how it is mostly, I think. But go online and someone always has to be “wrong” (the other guy) and someone has to be “right” (us, conveniently!)
It’s hard for narcissists to understand that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Funny that this conversation came up because I’ve recently seen some very masculine men wearing polish. LOLOL One I know was straight and an ex marine. He was by himself trying to gift wrap a weirdly shaped bike box outside a store so since I was checkout his ass anyway I stopped to see if he needed some help. I noticed the black opal polish right away. I could care less who wears what, it might be a happier world if we all weren’t so concerned about what other people are wearing and just enjoy the show. I do have to admit that a masculine man wearing it is kind of a turn on.
“…it might be a happier world if we all weren’t so concerned about what other people are wearing and just enjoy the show.”
Just not a fan of painted nails on guys at all, ever, unless it’s black and even then only on goth or emo rockers. Just a turn off.
I don’t care if a guy wears finger nail polish. If its black I might even find it sexy.
I’m of two minds. I have no issue with men of whatever sexuality or gender wearing nail polish. If you feel so moved, go for it. Express yourself, be yourself, experiment, live your truth. If you’re not into wearing it, that’s cool too. I’m not but then I’m not into getting manicures.
On the other hand, except in a few cases, I personally don’t find it that sexually attractive if it’s not clear polish. Lil Nas X is one of the few public figures who wears non-clear nail polish whom I find hot. But in general it does little for me. That said, if you want to wear it, go for it.
sometimes i paint the nail on my little finger black. i painted all five fingers once and decided that was a bit much for me. notice i said, “for me”. you decide for yourself.
I had a gf who would paint the thumb, index finger, and pinky of my right hand with black or silver polish. She told me that it was so whenever I looked at my hand and she wasn’t around I’d know she loved me.
Cheesy AF but I always found it kind of sweet.
I have seen fad after fad come and go. some stay around for a very long time even a lifetime. I remember when guys started wearing Beatle haircuts and all the shit people had to say about that and now the length of a guys hair doesnt much matter if it looks good on them. Then there was the clone look, preppy was hot for a while and emo and grunge and bald and thin and husky and hairy or shaved. If it turns you on great if it doesnt mind your manners and keep your mouth shut and the world will be a better place
Looking back on the Beatles’ hair length, while their hair was somewhat longer than the going styles for men of those times, some later styles (Glam Rock bands were even more coser to what would be considered a “woman’s” hair style, and women’s styles got shorter and shorter).
There is nothing more constant than change.
@Jaquelope I’d say death is definitely more constant than change. Though I get your point.
Turn off (most look like they were done by 6 year olds), but- once the powers that be have spoken, we’ll all have to conform to the ruling- opinions aren’t allowed anymore.
What do you mean? They’re a turn off for you so you don’t have to get them and you’re not attracted to guys who paint their nails, so you won’t end up with any, I presume. What’s the big deal? Does it upset you so much you don’t want others to do what they’d like, even if it’s not harming you?
K- if I’m allowed 1 opinion- you’re an idiot.
You’re allowed as many idiotic opinions as you like. Blathering on about ruling opinions, etc., you still sound like a whiny bagpipe!
For me, it’s a personal choice, like an earring or earrings, however, there are contexts in which I don’t want to be surprised, pleasantly or otherwise. Though, in the end, it really is de gustibus non disputandum est.
Countdown to when someone asks what that means
One should strive to use the complete phrase, “de gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum”.
I refuse to get my dictionary out again tonight. I don’t know what you just told me to do to myself, but you can just go do it to yourself for all I care.
It just means, in matters of taste, there is no disputing.
“de gustibus et coloribus non est disputandum”
“when we talk about tastes and colours there is nothing to be disputed.”
It’s an old Latin saying that essentially means there’s no “right” or “wrong” when talking about taste (preferences) because they are subjective and no one person’s are superior to another’s.
I think some guys can carry it off and it looks sexy, especially if they’re wearing black polish.
So it’s such a turn on to gay men that we all watch porn starring guys wearing lipstick and doing their nails, right?
This might come as a shock to you, but not all of us use porn actors as role models to who we’re attracted to.
In the 60s this exact same debate was raging about men with long hair. More recently it was men with “man buns”. In between it’s been a dozen other things, from flared trousers to platform shoes to gold chains around the neck. Painted nails is the same old, same old. And it’s not even the first time it’s come around. If you think it’s girly or off-putting you need to broaden your horizons. Or are you still freaked out by guy with hair over their collars too?
I remember when men with an earing caused a sensation. Now no one bats an eye when a man, gay or straight, is wearing one.
On a “straight” man’s fingers, a big turn on.. Not so on the toes.
We can debate all we want but the guys that do it only care about the opinion of who does like it. If you don’t care for it, you are obviously not the target audience.
Jon in Canada
Whatever you do, be it painting nails, wearing certain clothes, etc, remember that the only person you need to impress is yourself. You do you and if some people aren’t into it, move on. This discussion boils down to this: “Be yourself, because there’s only one of you”
As to those who claim it’s a feminine trait, you clearly don’t know your history. Painting nails is an ancient custom, as is make-up and both were done by males and females. This nonsense can be traced back to monotheistic social constructs that have rigidly defined gender attributes/roles.
Yes guys with painted nails are a turn off
I find nail polish distracting. I like a nicely buffed nail with no color. Male or female.
But then again I don’t like anything that says, “look at me, look at me.”
I think this question needs to be dealt with in two parts. I fully support any individual’s self expression be it nail polish or clothing or makeup. Be you family or friend, I will support and embrace your choices as long as they don’t harm you or other people.
HOWEVER, I definitely have physical types (yes, plural) that I am sexually/romantically attracted to. In my case, all my types are masculine and don’t include gender neutral or blending styles. It’s my preference for a sexual/romantic partner and my prerogative to seek those who are more on the masculine spectrum.
Commenters should consider whether they’re talking about what others should wear or whether they’re talking about being attracted to people who wear nail polish.
This whole discourse brings to mind the song My Conviction from Hair:
“I would just like to say that it is my conviction
That longer hair and other flamboyant affectations
Of appearance are nothing more
Than the male’s emergence from his drab camouflage
Into the gaudy plumage
Which is the birthright of his sex
There is a peculiar notion that elegant plumage
And fine feathers are not proper for the male
That is the way things are
In most species”
Who cares. I have enough to do without having to paint my nails, but if it’s your thing then do it. Guys shave their chest, dick, and legs, wear earrings and dresses, so what’s wrong with a little color on their fingers?
I think the silver on Lil Nas X looks really cool. Personally, I don’t find it a turn off or a turn on. It’s certainly not a deal breaker. It’s like wearing rings or other jewelry. I think a lot of guys like it because it’s fun, why not? My son paints his nails sometimes, as do a lot of the other boys (and girls) in elementary school. What another commentator said about it being popular with kids in school these days is true.
Also, I know a guy who is very masculine presenting and likes to paint his nails because it’s meditative. He uses a water based polish that is fairly easy to wash off. It’s the same brand I got for my kids since you don’t have to use acetone to get the polish off.
I’ve done it before, but I don’t like how it feels, it makes my nails feel heavy.
Not a fan personally, but hey, you do you.
It ok. It depends on the guy. Some can and can’t pull it off. If I were have an opinion, I would choose darker colors and not bright. I wore polish years ago when younger and it wasn’t the thing. I chose to go darker and I didn’t paint all of my nails I would do 2 or 3 on each hand. Sometimes all of them, it was to be different I guess.
You wanna see disapproval? Be an older gay man who dares to wear nail polish, or even more shocking, eye makeup. Watch people who usually approve of self-expression back away.
I haven’t worn nail polish since Halloween, but when I do it won’t be a boring shade like “Ballet Slippers” by Essie. It’s their best seller, and Queen Elizabeth wears it, and it’s so dull.
If you’re young and hot enough, you can pull off anything.
No, it’s not a turn-off and I think we’re losing sight of what’s really a turn-off and that’s guys who are not in shape.
as long the polish has not been tested on animals
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