Home Tips & Trends Nail Trend Everything You Need to Know About TikTok’s Red Nail Theory

Everything You Need to Know About TikTok’s Red Nail Theory

Should you take it to heart? We discuss.

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Long nails, short nails, pink nails, black nails; the options for a manicure are endless. For better or for worse, the way we visually present ourselves to the world affects how the people in our environment perceive us and treat us. Some visual indicators are noted more quickly than others. 

For instance, if you were living your best life as a brunette, then decided to switch over to blond or even pink hair, you’ll probably notice people will treat you a bit differently. As someone who’s easily gone through a minimum of five hairstyle colors over the last ten years, I can confirm that hair color, silly as it may seem, shifts how people view you. 

Meanwhile, other visual indicators are noted on a much more subconscious level. Unless you’re sporting five-inch, gem-encrusted talons (props to those who are BTW), it’s not immediately obvious the shifts in how people treat you based on your manicure.

That’s where TikTok’s latest obsession, “The Red Nail Theory” comes in. 

What Is “The Red Nail Theory”?

For those who may not be aware or maybe a little confused by this term, here’s a bit of the breakdown. 

“The Red Nail Theory” was introduced by Robyn Delmonte who goes by the TikTok handle @girlbosstown. Delmonte’s channel focuses on the breakdown of celebrity, entertainment, beauty, and fashion topics and trends from a PR-focused perspective. 

A particular @girlbosstown video went viral recently, in which Delmonte was breaking down her theory that men are attracted to women with red nails because the color reminds them of their moms… Yes, you read that correctly.

@girlbosstown Reply to @meganandliz @tinx @serenakerrigan ♬ original sound - GirlBossTown

Delmonte began the video by stating, “I know that guys are attracted to red nails and I’ll tell you why.” She explained that she noticed that men tended to notice and comment on her nails whenever they were painted red and expressed confusion as to why. 

Delmonte explained:

“I always thought that red nails were like a grandma nail color. Like why the f*ck is he liking red nails? And then it hit me. In the 90s when we were growing up, women had red nails a lot, especially our moms. I really think guys are attracted to red nails cause it reminds them of their moms when they were growing up and they [the guys’ mothers] were taking care of them. Or some sort of mommy issue.” 

At the time that I am writing this article, videos featuring the @rednailtheory hashtag have garnered over 163.6 million views on TikTok alone. 

But is Delmonte’s theory accurate? Let’s explore. 

Who Does” The Red Nail Theory” Apply To?

Like with many other TikTok theories, context is key. One, the men that Delmonte is referring to most likely identify as heterosexual and are cis-gendered.  Two, the age group of the men Delmonte is referring to are late-stage millennials and early-stage Gen Z. However, judging by the popularity of the hashtag, it’s safe to say that some people believe this theory applied to men of older age groups as well, we see you Boomer. 

Is There Any Basis To “The Red Nail Theory”?

In the video, Delmonte is indirectly referring to Freud’s theory of the Oedipus Complex, that young boys develop an unconscious infatuation towards their mothers. An infatuation that may lead grown men to seek out women who remind them of their mama. 

Kinda creepy… But in this case, not exactly accurate.

According to celebrity nail artist Julie Kandalec, Delmonte’s theory doesn’t quite pan out because mothers of the 90s weren’t wearing red nail polish, they were wearing frosty mauve tones. 

In the caption of Kandalec’s post, the nail artist stated:

“Red nails were big until the 70’s when softer colors became more popular (remember black and Chanel Vamp in the 90’s?). So this has EVERYTHING to do with WHEN said men grew up. If this “theory” is true, this would therefore refer to men that are about 55 and older (their moms grew up pre-1970, making the guys born around 1967 or before).”

Is There Any Truth to “The Red Nail Theory”?

Yes… and no. 

In 2008, University of Rochester psychologists Daniela Niesta and Andrew Elliot conducted a study, dubbed “Romantic Red: Red Enhances Men’s Attraction to Women”, to determine if the color red enhanced a man’s attraction towards a woman. Five experiments were conducted that ultimately lead Niesta and Elliot to conclude: 

“Red, relative to other achromatic and chromatic colors, leads men to view women as more attractive and more sexually desirable.”

In 2016, a survey conducted by marketer Jacklyn Bloemker on behalf of the nail polish brand Spray Perfect, noted that out of 2,000 people surveyed, 43 percent of men, in comparison to 19 percent of women, thought that red nail polish symbolized passion. 

Studies show that men do tend to notice women’s red nails more as a whole. But overall, results are fairly inconclusive that having red nails will make you appear more sexually attractive to men. What the nails will do is capture their attention visually much faster than a neutral color would, which will increase the odds are starting a conversation that leads to flirting and attraction forming. 

Red nails are great for a personal confidence boost and will always remain a classic style statement. Here are some products to help you rock a bold red nail!

The Best Ways To Rock A Red Nail

Kiss Gel Fantasy Nails in “Love” ($8.99)

There’s no quicker way to feel like a baddie than with a bold set of long, coffin-shaped nails. This sexy set is chip-proof, smudge-proof, waterproof, and BS-proof. 

imPress Color Press-on Manicure in “Reddy or Not” ($7.99)

For those who want to rock a bold nail, but are a bit more no-fuss, no-muss, these are the nails for you. Ready or not, these nails are sure to help you turn some heads on your night out. 

RED Bestseller Combo Bundle “The Red Carpet Collection ($32.96)

Bottom Line

If having a red manicure alone makes you feel like a baddie, a red mani, a bold lash, and a smokey eye make for a lethally fabulous combination. Not to mention, Limited Edition (KISS) RED products support the work of the Global Fund which aids those affected by global pandemics.

author avatar
Nicole Kirichanskaya
Nicole Kirichanskaya is a born-and-raised Brooklynite with a passion for fashion, feminism, and the fanciful. Her love of beauty stems from when she was taught the importance of a good manicure at an early age from her Ukrainian babushka. She has written for a number of publications including Global Glam Magazine, CEW, Footwear News, and more.