TikTok’s Black Nail Theory Is the Key to an Instant Confidence Boost

November 28, 2023
Jordan Julian
By: Jordan Julian | Makeup.com by L'Oréal
Person's hand with nails painted black, collaged on a purple and blue graphic background

Anyone who knows me (or has so much as taken a glance at my Instagram profile) can tell you what my favorite color is without hesitation — pink. Baby pink to bubblegum to electric magenta, I absolutely adore pink in all of its forms. My obsession dictates the clothes I buy, the way I decorate my apartment and — you guessed it — the shades I opt for at the nail salon

All of this is to say that I am the ultimate unlikely candidate to try TikTok’s viral “black nail theory.” If you spend any time on beauty TikTok, chances are you remember “red nail theory” from earlier this year. Posited by TikToker Robyn DelMonte, red nail theory is the theory that men are attracted to fiery red nails, since red is a power color. Black nail theory is somewhat similar — with one key twist. 

What Is TikTok’s “Black Nail Theory?”

The idea behind black nail theory is that a shiny black manicure can boost your confidence, which is not unlike the purported effects of a classic red mani. However, the goal of painting your nails black is not to attract attention from men. It’s about doing it as an act of empowerment for yourself. Even though, as established above, I tend to stay away from dark nail polish shades, the confidence boost promised by black nail theory was too tempting. I needed to try it out for myself. So, at my most recent manicure appointment, I selected a true black shade with a shiny finish. Keep scrolling to find out what I thought.

Lest you think I’m exaggerating about my adversity to dark nail polish, the nail tech at my neighborhood salon immediately remarked on my choice of black, noting that I typically always go for a neutral light pink. After a momentary bout of regret, I committed to the uncharacteristically moody mani.    

To my surprise, I immediately loved my new black nails. I couldn’t stop staring at my freshly polished hands. One thing I appreciated about the look was how seasonally-appropriate it looked and felt. Though I firmly believe hot pink is a year-round color, having black nails actually put me more in the mood for fall and I didn’t have to worry about whether my manicure would clash with my darker winter wardrobe. As for the increased confidence? Well, the fact that I unabashedly filmed myself in public on the subway (a definite first for me) is all the proof I need to believe there may be something to black nail theory, after all. 

Want to try your own black nail theory experiment? Essie’s Licorice is the perfect striking shade. 
Essie Licorice Nail Polish
Photographer: Jordan Julian Design: Juliana Campisi

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