TikTok’s black nail theory is here to boost your confidence

It’s giving dark feminine energy

Beauty Crew Beauty Editor / November 03 2023

Anyone who’s ever struggled with acne will be able to tell you – how you look can impact how you feel. 

But these perceptions aren’t just limited to the appearance of our skin. 

The way we paint our faces, style our hair and tattoo our bodies affects how we perceive ourselves, and how others perceive us in kind. 

It’s this very sentiment that has buoyed TikTok’s black nail theory and ballooned its impact to viral proportions. 

What is the black nail theory?

The black nail theory surmises that painting your nails with black nail polish has the ability to boost your confidence, and leave others with the impression that you’re a bold, mysterious and daring individual. 

@jojovittaa i’m on that black nail wave🖤 #blacknails #nails #fyp #foryou quotes cc; @Rashayyashartv ♬ Church - Chase Atlantic

It’s also aligned with the ‘dark feminine’ and ‘man repellent’ aesthetic that’s captivated a younger generation of women who would rather wear makeup that makes them look unapproachable than appeal to the male gaze. 

@journeyof.janae Forget the red nail theory… have you heard of the black nail theory?🥰 #blacknails #fyp #blackgirltiktok #freshnailsset #blacknailtheory #rednailtheory ♬ original sound - Jay

Nail artist and TikTok creator @lovetrenna says that a woman with black nails wears them as a “warning”. 

“Girls with black nail polish are most likely to swing on you [first] in a fight,” she explains. “They are complete badasses and they're showing you through their nails. This is a girl that you don't mess with.”

@lovetrenna Replying to @peggyhobbs189 Black Nail girls 🖤🖤🖤💅🏽🖤💅🏽💅🏽💅🏽 #nails #nailtiktok #nailartist #girlswhowear #thegirlswhowear #gelx #nycnailtech #nailart #nailstyles #nailpolish ♬ original sound - Nail art

The best black nail polish

Want to test the black nail theory for yourself? These are the best black nail polishes for the job…

1/ Essie Nail Polish in ‘Licorice’

Essie Nail Polish in ‘Licorice’ ($15.99 at MECCA) is a longwearing, high-shine black nail polish that goes on streak-free. We really rate the budget-friendly price tag for this pick too.

Essie Nail Polish in ‘Licorice’

2/ OPI Infinite Shine Nail Polish in ‘Black Onyx’ 

The OPI Infinite Shine Nail Polish in ‘Black Onyx’ ($23.95 at Adore Beauty) imitates the longwearing finish of a gel polish without the need for a UV light. Two coats is all you’ll need for opaque colour pay-off and a glossy shine. 

OPI Infinite Shine Nail Polish in ‘Black Onyx’

3/ Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in ‘Sequins’

A glittery alternative to a standard black nail lacquer, the Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in ‘Sequins’ ($45 at Chanel) is the perfect vampy manicure shade to wear throughout the party season. 

Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in ‘Sequins’

Moody nail hues are in this season. Case in point? Hailey Bieber was just spotted wearing this concrete-inspired nail colour.

Image credit: Getty

Briar Clark got her start in the media industry in 2017, as an intern for Marie Claire and InStyle. Since then, her keen interest in fashion and beauty has landed her gigs as a Digital Content Producer and Beauty Editor with titles like Girlfriend, Refinery29, BEAUTYcrew and beautyheaven. She loves the way seemingly innocuous topics like skin care and style have the ability to put a smile on people’s faces or make them think about themselves a little differently. A big believer in self love and experimentation, Briar has made a point of becoming the Australian beauty industry’s unofficial guinea pig for unusual treatments and daring hair trends. When she’s not testing out the latest beauty launches, Briar is big on broadening her horizons, mostly in the form of food but she’s also partial to travelling to new destinations both near and far (and of course, allocating an extra bag to bring their best beauty offerings home with her).