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“Red-Nails Theory” Explained | POPSUGAR Beauty

PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 02: Olivia Palermo wears a silver large chain pendant necklace from Givenchy, a red ribbed wool turtleneck pullover, a white blazer jacket, a black shiny leather clutch from Givenchy, rings, black suit pants from Givenchy, black shiny leather heels sandals from Givenchy, outside Givenchy, during Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear Spring/Summer 2023, on October 02, 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

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If it seems like you’ve been encountering people on social media wearing red nails more often than usual, you might be onto something. In fact, this may be just the beginning, thanks to a viral TikTok video that has become known as the “red-nails theory.”

People on the app are claiming there’s a deeper reason people are drawn to this particular color of manicure. In a clip that now has more than one million views, user Robyn Delmonte theorized that men always compliment her when she wears the color on her nails. “I weirdly think that guys are attracted to red nails because it reminds them of their moms when they were growing up taking care of them,” Delmonte says in one part of the video. “Or some type of mommy issues.”

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Delmonte isn’t the only person who thinks red nails can spark a suitor’s interest. Influencer and founder of The Bar Bridget Bahl has a running joke about the trend with her Instagram followers. After getting engaged while wearing one particular color — you guessed it: red — on her nails, she theorized that it’s the key to taking your relationship to the next level. Many of her followers have chimed in in the comments section to agree.

So is the red-nails theory a real thing? Yes and no. First, there’s a reason the shade first became a popular manicure choice so many years ago. “Red nail polish began to be popular in 1929 after American women would see that European socialites were using red polish,” celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec tells POPSUGAR. The color went on to be a staple shade up until the early ’70s.

However, Kandalec is fairly skeptical of the theory. “While I don’t doubt that men are indeed inadvertently drawn to things that their moms wore, I don’t think this theory boils down to a red nail,” Kandalec says. “Red being worn as a daily, commonplace color is very era specific, and this was primarily seen in the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s, before other, more muted colors began to be popular in the ’70s. Therefore, this theory greatly depends on when both the men being discussed as well as their mothers grew up.”

With that in mind, if red nails were primarily a staple in the ’50s and ’60s, that would mean the men who grew up watching their mothers wear the color would be, at a minimum, in their 50s. While Delmonte didn’t state the age range of her dating pool, it’s safe to assume — for her and other TikTokers backing the theory — that the numbers don’t add up here. Still, while the red-nails theory doesn’t exactly pan out, there is some credence to the color red catching people’s attention.

“Like a red dress, red signals love, passion, power, and sensuality,” Kandalec says. “Men can definitely be drawn to that.”

Whether or not you believe in the red-nails theory, it goes without saying that no part of your beauty routine should depend on the opinion of anyone other than yourself. The fun part about beauty is in the freedom to explore, so don’t get hung up on the details (or theories) that make you feel limited in your self-expression. If you like a crimson manicure for that reason and that reason alone, that’s good enough.



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