• SumoMe

Evolutionman will soon release a line of nail varnish for men.

The successful male-oriented skincare line, Evolutionman, is getting set to release their first (and as far as I know, any company’s first) line of nail polish varnish aimed at male consumers. The products are apparently vegan and “cruelty-free” (I guess that means not tested on animals?) and encased in post-consumer grade recycled plastic, all coming in a bag made from recycled inner tire tubes. Obviously, this product is not aimed at the Bill Bennetts of the world. Nevertheless, I appreciate recycling and things that are “cruelty-free.” My concern is not, however, the ecological impacts of a package of nail polish.

My first question was, “How is this nail polish different from any other nail polish?” The shades appear pretty neutral and come in glossy or matte. I see no reason why a woman who wants to wear nail polish would or should outright refrain from buying this nail polish. I also see no reason why a man who wishes to wear nail polish would buy this brand of nail polish over any other nail polish. I’m no dermatologist, but it seems like men and women have basically the same structure of fingernails. What’s the difference? Marketing. I highly doubt the color “pavement” would appeal to a wide array of women.

My second question was, “How many guys would wear this?” Again, this depends on marketing. I was able to find this incredibly… strange… advertisement photo (pictured right). Like most marketing techniques these days, the product is very subtly mentioned. If someone showed me the top half of this photo, I’d guess it was for some cologne, jeans, or anti-depressant medication. However, if you notice his right hand, you can clearly see his man-paint. So to answer my second question, I conclude: at least one guy.

I then asked myself if this topic received any other talk. I found this perspective from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Rock stars and celebs like Johnny Depp, Steven Tyler and David Beckham have been spotted in dark polish hues, with no obvious decrease in the public perception of their manliness as a result.

Guys: Even if you’re not up to trying color (or color-coordinating your polish to your clothing), don’t completely spurn the idea of a manicure or pedicure. The holidays will soon be here, and lots of us look at men’s hands while sipping drinks during cocktail hour for tell-tale signs of personal hygiene and grooming.

Cleaning and clipping your fingernails is great, but removal of those prickly hangnails and overgrown cuticles is even better, along with a touch of lotion to smooth dried-out winter skin. Besides, it makes walking hand-in-hand so much nicer.

I literally laughed out loud at this. To start, nobody really cares what rock stars or celebrities do. A man should look to others for ideas and guidance from time to time, but imitation for the sake of imitation not only removes any semblance of a personal identity, but it disregards your ability to make your own choices. If you follow the trends of rock stars and celebrities simply because of their title, you have bigger worries in your life than whether or not to wear nail polish.

Continuing on this point, the article is right that there is “no obvious decrease in the public perception of their manliness as a result” of wearing nail polish. Do you know why? Because they are rock stars and celebrities. Most men aren’t rock stars or celebrities, and I guarantee you that any man who presents in front of a jury of the very same people who contribute to this “public perception” will automatically think less of the male attorney. Sexist? Insensitive? Naive? Yes, yes, and yes. However, that is the current truth of the matter. If you want to blaze the trail and change the public perception of men in nail polish, be my guest. It’s not important enough for me to put my family’s welfare and professional reputation at stake for.

Additionally, keeping your nails clean is a basic part of hygiene, and telling this to me is sort of on par with, “and don’t forget to brush your teeth!” The fact that the Chronicle even felt the need to remind men to keep their nails neat is slightly worrisome. Also, contrary to the article, you don’t need to get a manicure to get rid of hangnails. The same tool you use to cut your fingernails with is also useful for removing hangnails as well. What a revelation.

Lastly, lotion in the winter: I personally follow this rule, but not because “it makes walking hand-in-hand so much nicer,” but because my skin cracks and starts to bleed if I don’t. Open wounds on hands are generally no good, not to mention it hurts.

After I read that article, I immediately thought, “I bet a woman wrote this article,” because most of the advice was sound, but any attempts at persuading the general man who read the article to follow up on that advice was greatly out of touch of the experience of a man’s daily life. I was right. While this fact does not detract from the value of the article, I found it interesting that a woman was trying to convince men to wear fingernail varnish. Maybe her team knows something our team doesn’t?

Let me close with some general remarks. I enjoy diversity and difference, in all forms. This includes some forms of “gender stereotypes,” such as femininity paired with nail polish. The difference is fun and interesting. If nobody ever wore nail polish, that world would probably be pretty boring. If everybody wore nail polish, its appeal would disappear into normalcy, and that world would also be pretty boring. Not everyone needs to, or should, wear nail polish. Keeping it a “girl thing” adds some spice to life. In that same vein, the non-stigmatization of males who want to wear nail polish also adds some spice to life. These men can already achieve this goal without a separate line of nail polish and separate marketing campaign. I know that nail polish manufacturers are only able to market to half of the 7 billion people in the world, but a potential marketplace of 3.5 billion will just have to do for right now.