Nail polish, and my wearing of it

I've been painting my nails since March of 2016.

I'm partial to glittery polishes, blue polishes, and glittery blue polishes. My first polish, back in 2016, was L.A. Colors “Wired”; these days, my favorite is OPI “Do You Sea What I Sea” [sic]. The latter gets the most compliments by far.

Nail polish is not something that most people expect to see on a masculine-looking person such as myself. (I almost always have a full beard and, these days, short hair.) And yet, most people are supportive; I often get compliments. Children stare in wonder. Only rarely do I get a dirty look from some jerk.

I particularly enjoy children seeing my nails. Our biases are learned, and the best time to unlearn them is early; I hope I've helped accomplish that and I hope to continue doing so.

On this page, I'll gather the pictures I've been posting on Twitter (usually with the hashtag #NailPolish), along with identification of what polish I was wearing at the time. I'm also going to document what I've learned about applying and wearing nail polish.

Frequently asked questions

Who does your nails? / Did you do that yourself?

As of February 2020, I have never had my nails painted by someone else, professionally or otherwise. I've only ever painted them myself.

I am kind of curious to get them professionally painted, but also have no real reason to, since I'm apparently really good at painting my own nails, it saves money, and I find it's a good time to watch TV or “Critical Role” or something, which I wouldn't be able to do at a salon.

How long do they last?

One to two weeks. (See “What I've learned” for some of my observations of how best to achieve this.)

Do you use gel polish?

Not so far. As of February 2020, I have never used gel polish (the kind that has to be set using a UV lamp). All my polishes are air-dry.

Are your nails always painted?

No, not all the time. I may be busy, or lazy, or have enough time to strip a paint job that's fallen to ruin but not to apply a new one. So sometimes I'll go unpainted for a bit. This is OK; turning enjoyments into obligations is bad.

How long does it take?

About an hour to paint all ten of my nails, including setting times for each coat. Also, it takes half an hour to strip all ten nails, and if I need to trim my nails in between stripping and repainting, there's additional time there. Hence the TV-watching: I can knock out at least a couple of cartoon episodes, one or two hour-long shows, or a movie or MST3K episode, and that's enough time for me to do whatever I'm going to do, and something to do during setting times.


Because I like the colors that I use. I like choosing those colors rather than just leaving my nails at their default appearance.

Because I enjoy the process, the time of focused practice that is sitting down to paint my nails.

Because it occupies my hands while I watch TV (and, inversely, the TV occupies my mind while my nails dry).

And because it challenges expectations and assumptions about what a man looks like, or who wears nail polish. Yes, dudes can wear nail polish, too. This exertion of agency over one's own appearance is something everyone should be able to enjoy.

What I've learned

Base and top coat


Protecting your paint job

Nail polish remover

Glitter polishes



Places to buy nail polish and other related supplies

Step-by-step, how I paint my nails

  1. I get out my work surface first. Don't want any drips on anything important.
  2. If my polish needs thinning, that happens before I get started. Apply one or two drops into the bottle of polish, then put the cap back on—tightly—and swirl the bottle around. By the time you're ready to apply it, it should be suitably thinned.
  3. Apply the base coat to all nails.
  4. Immediately after that, apply the first coat of color polish. Then wait three minutes.
  5. Apply the second coat of color polish. Then wait three minutes.
  6. Apply the third coat of color polish. Then wait three minutes.
  7. If applying glitter overtop: Paint the glitter polish onto a makeup sponge, then press the sponge to the nail. Repeat for each nail. Wait three minutes.
  8. If applying glitter overtop: Do another layer of glitter if necessary.
  9. Apply top coat. Wait 15 minutes.
  10. Go to bed.