Nail Varnish And Men

Men who wear nail varnish are often stigmatized by society. However, the concept of men wearing nail polish has its roots in ancient times! 

The mainstream media was in an uproar when the ‘Badhaai ho’ actor sported a black nail-painted hands, with kohl-rimmed eyes. Although he was trolled, the look was a breakthrough in the world of men’s style and makeup. Over the years, many male actors have come forward in support of nail paints adored by men. 

You’ll be surprised to learn that wearing nail paints isn’t something that has popped out of the blue in today’s age. Men wearing nail varnish is age-old folklore whose traces can be found in ancient Babylonia. In southern Babylonia, around 3200 BC, men spent hours painting their nails with black kohl before going to war. The color black was meant for elite men, while commoners wore green. During the same timeline, in China, nail paints were made from a mixture of beeswax, egg whites, gum and gelatin which was later filled with colors using flower petals. These were worn by both men and women from the elite section of society. In ancient Egypt, nail varnishes held a status symbol, with different shades meant for a different rank.

However, with time nail varnishes began to be identified as feminine. A product that was so commonly adorned by men, began to shift towards femininity. 

It is difficult to trace since when nail varnishes started being called a feminine expression. What we do know is that, by the 1930s, Revlon was the most well-known company selling nail varnish in various colors targeting women as the prime consumers. 

Throughout history, countless men have brought back this tradition. Men associated with pop culture, punk rock and even men who like to look well-groomed have worn nail paint as an adornment. 

Let’s walk down the memory lane and draw our inspiration from these men:

Billie Joe Armstrong

The Green day singer has always been the icon of the punk genre for a very long time. He’s usually seen in black clothes, smudged eyeliners and of course, black nails. Black nail varnish is a statement style for Billie. A man wearing black nail polish stands out in a crowd, as the color black gives them an edgy look. Black has always been associated with power and boldness. We can surely see the singer’s boldness while wearing the color.

Harry Styles

Harry Styles is someone whom we can rely on to break those gender stereotypes with a style!

From wearing a tutu skirt to a bold sheer top, he has done it all. The singer loves to wear various nail polish colors be it black, pink or even pastel colors. Our personal favorite is his smiley nail manicures. To top it off, he has launched his own beauty brand called ‘Pleasing’, where you can choose from a variety of nail polish, skin serum and face oils.

Varun Grover

When Varun Grover posted an Instagram story with his pet cat, his blue-green pastel nails didn’t go unnoticed by the netizens. People left their comments on the photograph, some were supportive, and some weren’t. What followed the story was a thread of other stories from Grover, explaining why he pulled off this act. The answer was simple, “nail paint makes my hand look beautiful and colorful with minimum effort.”  The entire idea of a cisgender man wearing nail paint was so scandalous and unacceptable that he received a great amount of backlash for simply painting his nails.

Over the years, the Indian writer and stand-up comedian has well embraced his love for nail paints. His feed is filled with colorful nail paints, ranging from bold to pastels. 

Varun Dhawan

Varun Dhawan walked the ramp at Lakme Fashion Week wearing a light pink suit, kohl, along with a bold, black nail polish. Styled by the fashion designer Kunal Rawal, Varun looked absolutely stunning as the entire look was a concoction of both soft and edge. 

Rahul Khanna

The actor surprised his followers when he posted a selfie wearing none other than black nail paint. The photograph, along with tags like #malepolish and #vantablack was a support for normalizing the idea of men wearing nail paint. 

Kurt Kobain

Even years after his death, Kurt Cobain’s legacy remains rooted in the world. His rebellious punk attitude made him stand out. The late Nirvana singer’s style statement had always been rebellious, loud and messy. Dark, chipped nail polish was a grunge pop for him. Throughout the years, chipped nails have made their way out of the trend. For many, it is now considered rogue and unkempt. 


Wearing or not wearing nail polish is completely a personal choice of a man.

Nail varnishes have been among men for a very long time. Since ancient times, men have been wearing nail polish as a status symbol. However, the drastic change in the beauty industry marked this product as feminine. Things are changing as men are coming forward to abolish such gender-based stereotypes. 

But still, men wearing nail paints are stigmatized to a great extent. They often receive slurs and negative comments and are deserted by society. We support every man wearing nail paint, because after all, it’s just a personal choice!

Deepdisha Sarkar
Deepdisha Sarkar
Articles: 33
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