The red nail theory: How TikTok’s viral trend may land you a date in this month of love

The ‘red nail theory’ might also underscore a deeper yearning for connection. Picture: Allef Vinicius /Unsplash

The ‘red nail theory’ might also underscore a deeper yearning for connection. Picture: Allef Vinicius /Unsplash

Published Feb 15, 2024


It’s a tale as old as time — or at least as old as dating itself: the quest to catch the eye of a prospective partner.

But in a world where old proverbs and aphorisms are rife, could the key to garnering male attention be as simple as the colour of one’s nail polish?

The quest for romance and connection is as different as the individuals who seek it.

And with the incessant buzz of Valentine's Day now behind us, theories on capturing a man’s attention have resurfaced with a twist that’s gaining traction on social media.

The latest trend to sweep through TikTok might have some painting their nails in anticipation. The “red nail theory” suggests that a simple splash of crimson on one’s fingertips could be the key to attracting a mate.

This viral theory, popularised by TikTok creator Robyn Delmonte, known by her handle @GirlBossTown, posits a nostalgic influence behind the allure of red nails.

Red is a powerful colour often associated with passion, love, and excitement. Picture: Laura Chouette /Unsplash

“Every time I have red nails, a guy comments on the colour,” Delmonte remarked in her popular TikTok video.

“In the ’90s when we were growing up, women had red nails a lot, especially like our moms. And I weirdly think guys are attracted to red nails because it reminds them of their moms when they were growing up, taking care of them.”

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

With the hashtag #rednailtheory amassing over 164 million views on TikTok, the digital world is brimming with testimonials claiming there’s merit to the idea. But how much of this can be chalked up to science?

According to experts in psychology and colour theory, the answer is somewhat confirmatory, albeit likely for different reasons than the nostalgic connection Delmonte offers.

Research has shown that the colour red is associated with attraction and desire across various cultures, with some studies even demonstrating that women who wear red are more likely to catch a man's eye.

@shindacia Should I be scared???? #rednails #rednailtheory #nails #nailinspo #rednailsforfall #ilovemynails #fallcolors #nailcolour #christiantiktok #churchgirl #blackgirlnailinspo ♬ original sound - Shindacia | Style + Beauty

Take TikTok creator Shindicia’s video for example, on the adoption of the red nail theory, @simplykatm_ claimed: “I got my nails painted red last month and this month because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, didn’t know there’s a theory behind it.”

@Latika said: “I love red nails, lipstick and anklets. Even though my momma said only street walkers wear them all.”

It’s a notion that’s not necessarily new. Colour has long been known to play a role in human psychology, affecting moods and perceptions.

Red, in particular, is a powerful colour often associated with passion, love, and excitement. In evolutionary terms, red signals health and vitality, which could explain the heightened attention garnered by those sporting red nails.

Putting aside the science of colour psychology, the enthusiasm for the “red nail theory” might also underscore a deeper yearning for connection.

Especially in a world where traditional courtship has become increasingly complex; and especially as environmental and social challenges muddy the once-clear waters of the dating scene.

According to a “Today” article, Adam Pazda, assistant professor of psychology at the University of South Carolina, noted that the association of red nails with female figures from the past is highly dependent on individual experiences.

This insight offers a useful perspective on the psychological factors at play in these associations.

In addition, relationship therapist Dr Kimberly Moffit shared her views on the red nail theory with The Independent. Moffit, who operates clinic locations in New York City and Toronto, highlighted the impact of wearing red in a dating scenario.

She said wearing red can make a person more attractive, and added: “Men rate women who are wearing red lipstick as more attractive than those wearing another colour”.

Moffit also provided an interesting insight into the popularity of blush, explaining that the flushed appearance it creates on a woman’s face mimics ovulation, leading men to rank her as more attractive.

As to whether painting one’s nails red could genuinely enhance love prospects, while the colour might not be a magic potion, it certainly provides a talking point — an opening line, if you will.

It could be that the simple act of choosing a bold colour expresses confidence, which in itself is a trait often admired by potential partners.

In the end, whether it’s through painted nails or another avenue, the drive for human connection remains at the core of such trends.

As Delmonte’s theory continues to intrigue and invite playful experimentation, the search for companionship — however it’s found — proves to be an enduring aspect of the human experience.