Nail polish is truly for anyone who has nails.
Even if you’ve never heard a song by Machine Gun Kelly, you probably know a little bit about him. Aside from dating Megan Fox and being best friends with Pete Davidson, the rocker-rapper is a fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas and the color pink. And like any good emo-guy, he gets sad sometimes. And when he does? Kelly is one of the growing number of male celebrities who express themselves through the language of nail art.
Now, celebs like MGK are taking their affinity for glossy nails and individual nail art to the next level by officially entering the beauty chat with their own nail polish lines. While actual details are still under wraps, MGK is planning to launch UN/DN in fall 2021, a collection of unisex nail polishes created in collaboration with Unlisted Brand Lab. (All nail polish, we would note, is unisex, by the way.)
“We’re honored to be working with MGK on this rare opportunity to build a brand that will progress a category to embody a cultural shift that has been a long time coming,” Unlisted CEO and founder Candy Harris said in a statement provided to NYLON.
MGK has previously used his nail art to tease his upcoming singles and albums. He released three limited-edition nail polish shades in conjunction with his latest album, Tickets to My Downfall. And now, he’s not the only one.
Lil Yachty, a rapper who has mastered the mix-matched manicure trend with his plaid, tie dye, and leopard print nails, is also launching his own line of polishes. Crete is a collection of gender-neutral “nail paints” launching on May 21. In the rapper’s Instagram announcement, he holds up the bottles from the first color drop, showing off his black-and-white spade manicure. A hint at what shades are to come?
“I’d like to introduce my new nail paint line @crete__co…. FIRST COLOR DROP MAY 21,” he wrote in the caption. “ALL GENDERS. FOR YOU, NOT THEM,” he wrote in the post’s caption.
Yachty has previously spoken out against a male high school student getting punished for wearing nail polish at school. In Dec. 2020, Trevor Wilkinson, a teenager in West Texas, was given an in-school suspension because his colorful manicure “violated” his school’s dress code.
“It’s about to be 2021 so why do we still have barriers? If someone wants to express themselves and it’s not harming anyone or bringing someone down, they should be allowed to do so,” Yachty told TMZ.
Backstreet Boy AJ MacLean, who’s been loyal to black nail polish since the ’90s, has also entered the beauty space with his own set of glossy nail lacquers. MacLean launched Ava Dean Beauty, named after his daughter, in fall 2020. The assortment includes classic shades like red, periwinkle, blush pink, and jet black, the shade he named for himself.
“I’ve always been the rebellious one. If you tell us to wear red, I’ll wear blue. I don’t like people telling me what to look like, and early in our career, we were constantly told to look unified,” MacLean told InStyle of what inspired him to start painting his nails. “We could wear different colors, but of the same Tommy Hilfiger suit. Once I started wearing polish, then got into makeup, I became more comfortable with my feminine side, if you want to call it that. It didn’t demasculinize me. I just felt, ‘This is who I am.'”
Last year, seemingly every celeb imaginable, from J.Lo to Pharrell launched their own skincare lines. While male celebrity nail polish lines are seemingly the new skincare brand, they’re also the next frontier of men in the public eye challenging societal gender norms. Along with MGK, Lil Yachty, and MacLean, Harry Styles, ASAP Rocky, Bad Bunny, and Jonathan Van Ness have made painted nails a part of their signature beauty looks, evolving the conversation around what’s expected (or accepted) for famous men.
The concept of men wearing nail polish isn’t new. Back in the ’70s, gender-fluid rockers like Bowie often had lacquered nails, and grunge icon Kurt Cobain was seen with chipped polish. Beauty has always been an amazing avenue for self-expression; we’re just happy to see more men join in the fun.
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“Masculinity has become more gender-fluid. It’s great because if you go back to Boy George, David Bowie, Elton John — I’m sure they got blowback, but they were comfortable with who they were, which is what’s important,” said MacLean. “Kurt Cobain wore a skirt and dress and you couldn’t be more ‘man’s man’ than him.”
The bottom line: nail polish is for anyone who has nails. But if painting it as a new trend for men helps stamp out toxic masculinity? Well, we’ll see you guys at the nail salon.
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