I tested TikTok’s red nail theory for an entire month, and I really learned some things

It’s changed everything

red nail theory
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Winter is fast approaching, and for me, darker nights signal the start of cosy evenings and preparing for Winter Wonderland dates. And up until a few weeks ago, I’d never really considered that my choice of nail colour (I'm usually an autumnal nail colour kind of girl) might impact my winter dating life—but then I came across the ‘red nail theory’ trend on TikTok.

TikTok’s red nail theory is the brainchild of @GirlBossTown who told the world of TikTok that out of the nail polish colours, men are more attracted to red nails, earlier this year. Now, this week, #rednailtheory has 58.1 millions of views, with hundreds of women claiming their red nails have landed them more dates than they have ever seen. “The red nail theory is real” and “It is not a joke anymore” says @melissevmartineau in her TikTok video which now has 1.2 million views.

Essentially, the red nail theory stands that men are more attracted to red nails and will land you more dates than ever—progressive, I know. But despite the theory’s shallowed, gendered tropes and the simple fact I would never typically support the idea of making a beauty or fashion choice to please somebody else, in the name of journalistic curiosity, I was intrigued to see if there is any truth behind the theory. So, I decided, quite literally, to put the theory to the test.

As somebody who has always opted for a nude nail colour, it’s safe to say that making the decision to wear red nails for the entire month was a little daunting. But with the red nail theory swamping my TikTok for you page, I knew there must be something in it. Keep scrolling for everything there is to know about the red nail theory and to discover my verdict.

What is the red nail theory?

As with all TikTok trends, it all started with one video. The red nail theory is all down to GirlBossTown which now has thousands of people everywhere painting the town red… with their nails. 58.1 million views to be exact.

"I know guys are attracted to red nails... It is called the red nails theory"

So far, the ‘theory’ stands, that "growing up, men's first relationships with women, with their teachers, their mums and women back in the 90's all had red nails, and it was their first time being comforted by a woman, or female figures in their lives."

"So I think when they see red nails now they are attracted to it in a weird way because it was their first introduction to being around women who cared and comforted them," GirlBossTown explains.


♬ original sound - GirlBossTown

Unlike some TikTok trends, the red nail theory actually has some science behind it. A 2008 psychological study found that red enhances men's attraction to women. The study may be over ten years old, but TikTok users are adamant the theory still holds true.

Just like red lipstick, red nails are super classic and can tie almost any outfit together, but do they attract men, and more importantly, do we even care if they do? Here's what I've decided...

Does the red nail theory work? 

If TikTok is anything to go by, then the answer is yes, red nails and male attention go hand in hand.

My verdict? The theory might be all about male attention, but really, I was far more interested in how it made me feel about myself. After all, beauty should be about how you feel, not anyone else. And if you’re looking at it in the same way as me, then I can assure you the red nail theory works wonders.

Personally, as a big believer in all things manifestation and moon magic, trying red nails (for the first time ever) was more a state of mind than anything. Believing that it made me more attractive meant I felt more confident, sophisticated and just plain sexy, as soon as I stepped out the door of London nail salon, Townhouse. 

Did it make men notice me more? Yes, and actually, I have to admit the male attention was a little weird (and creepy) at times, but what did I expect when the theory is based on a nail colour that reminds a man of his mother?


♬ original sound - melisse martineau

"Classic red nails never go out of style and are a strong favourite amongst our clients at Townhouse. From bright bold hues to deep berry tones – red is perfect for that effortlessly chic and timeless look!

“Much like a red lip, it gives you a boost of confidence making you feel sophisticated and stylish," Townhouse Founder, Juanita Huber-Millet tells us.

Try it yourself 

It looks like the red nail theory is sticking, as Big Red Apple is one of OPI's top three bestsellers right now.

If you can't make it to the salon, here's how you can try out red nails at home.

OPI Big Apple Red, £14.30 | Lookfantastic

OPI Big Apple Red, £14.30 | Lookfantastic

This is the colour I chose for my red-nail moment—a classic bright and vibrant red that you just can't go wrong with. The nail varnish glides onto the nail effortlessly thanks to OPI's exclusive ProWide brush. OPI's top best selling shade for good reason.

Mylee French Cancan Gel Polish, £7.99 |Mylee

 Mylee French Cancan Gel Polish, £7.99 |Mylee

This rich shade of red is UV- and LED-curable, so you can paint your nails at home like a pro. Top tip: use the Mylee Base Coat and a glossy MyGel Top Coat to create a colour that lasts up to three weeks.

Dior Vernis in Rouge 999, £25 | John Lewis

 Dior Vernis in Rouge 999, £25 | John Lewis

Rouge 999 is Dior’s iconic red and is infused with peony and pistachio extracts for nail-nourishing benefits. 

Ready to test it out yourself?

Townhouse Liverpool Street is now open. Call on: 0207 947 0100, or visit their website.

Dionne Brighton

Dionne Brighton is a writer at Marie Claire UK, specialising in all things shopping, beauty and fashion. Born and raised in North London, she studied Literature at the University of East Anglia before taking the leap into journalism. These days, you can find her testing out the latest TikTok beauty trends or finding out what the next full Moon means.