The return of nail polish: It’s back once again, and this time anyone can wear it

Everyone’s wearing polish, regardless of gender (Picture: Pleasing /

Nail polish has quietly fallen out of favour over a number of years.

Why do yourself what a professional can do better, and to last for much longer?

Gels and intricate nail art reign in salons, plus Instagram culture has made that perfected look all the more desirable.

Nail polish, done at home, is far from perfect. Often there are smudges due to impatience and jagged lines from a shaky hand.

Much like ‘day two’ hair (the idea that hair looks its best the day after washing), nails done at home look best after you’ve had time to scratch off the overspill on your cuticles.

So why are polishes back again? Well, that’s down to a few things.

The pandemic forced us to take control of our beauty regimes, and many were faced with doing their nails themselves for the first time in a while, if only for their general wellbeing above all else.

Many realised that actually, doing your own nails is enjoyable, not to mention cheaper.

Emily, a student in north London, says painting her nails is a ‘mood booster’ when she’s having a hard day.

Another reason for its revival in popularity is due to the slight shift away from Instagram-perfected beauty standards – makeup artists are embracing styles that are more nuanced and let natural features breathe.

What better way to turn from our perfected yesteryear through a slightly shoddy, majorly on-trend nail job?

Lastly, celebrities have played their role here. Harry Styles, who has never been one to conform to conventionality, has launched Pleasing, a new beauty brand that has four nail polishes at the heart of its first collection drop.

Now Machine Gun Kelly is launching a line of gender-neutral polishes.

Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly attend UN/DN LAQR launch event (Picture: Jerritt Clark/Getty Images)

Heritage brands got the memo too, as this autumn MAC Cosmetics released limited edition nail polishes for the first time in years (which swiftly sold out) and Gucci too expanded their beauty offering into nails, with a variety of colours from Kermit green to soft beige.

With multiple brands investing in producing nail polish formulations, it suggests there’s a good reason for them in a way of sales potential – that speaks to what people want now.

As for who these people are, there’s no rulebook. Traditionally a ‘female’ thing to wear unless you were in the emo scene, now more men are trying nail polish.

Two of the biggest nail launches of the moment are coming from men.

In the hours following Machine Gun Kelly’s launch event, there was a 420% uplift in searches for for ‘Men’s Nail Polish’ according to

When Pleasing introduced itself to journalists, a card read: ‘Our mission is to bring joyful experiences and products that excite the senses and blur the boundaries.’

Through their products, they hope to ‘dispel the myth of a binary existence’ – with beauty being at once a personal, vain and political act, all through the medium of a little varnish bottle.

Marian Newman, who is widely considered to be an industry leader when it comes to nails, says DIY polish is having a moment again.

‘As much as I support the professional industry, lockdowns have shown the consumer that can do their own nails,’ she tells

‘I personally don’t subscribe to celebrity culture but it is definitely bringing some focus back to the fact that nail polish is super cool.

‘Gender identification is such a topic now. Any identification can rock a good nail.

‘I have Harry Styles’ collection,’ she says, adding that she thinks the quality of polish available to shoppers today is generally very good.

The big difference you’ll notice if you’re sworn to gels, is the maintenance regular polish needs.

‘Nail polish is so efficient now: easy on; easy off, no damage,’ Marian adds. ‘No, it won’t last two or so weeks, but just use good quality polish, make sure the nails are squeaky clean before painting and add a new layer or top coat every couple of days.

‘Or go for chipped nails – the lived-in look has always been a statement.’

So there really is no wrong with the new love of nail polish.

The only thing to do: enjoy it.

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