The Rise of the MANicure

Anouska Anastasia’s ultra masculine manicure 

Despite having never much explored the vast world of nail artistry myself, my own nails resembling that of a full time manual labourer, earlier this year, nail artist and Instagram sensation Anouska Anastasia caught my eye during a nightly Tiktok scroll – and I was not alone.

The video in question, showing off one of Anouska’s many nail design innovations, had amassed over 6 million views on Tiktok and a further 13 million views on Instagram.

While the design itself was certainly fresh and intriguing, using silver chains donated from a friends jewellery business to outline a perfectly manicured nail in a way that emulated the edgy, punky look of tooth grills, it was certainly not the most crazy or abstract design from Anouska’s stacked repertoire. So what had people so fascinated?

The answer? This particular design was a men’s manicure, conceived by Anouska on the request of one of her fashionable male friends.

In 2024, a time where more and more people are breaking free of gender and the roles of the ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine,’ it came as quite a shock that something so seemingly innocent as a guy getting his nails done could still be at all polarising. Seen on all kinds of celebs over the past few years, from rappers like ASAP Rocky and Kid Cudi, to actors and comedians like Pedro Pascal and Pete Davidson, male manicures are certainly nothing new.

But, as I came to understand from Anouska’s comment section, beyond the echo chamber of social media, it seems as though there are prejudices remaining that are restricting the trend from entering the mainstream.

Speaking to Anouska, it seemed as though she shared in my surprise at the scope of the contention her seemingly innocent video caused. “I kinda knew that the industry, or just society, isn’t really ready to see guys with nails yet,” she told me, “I knew it was going to cause some sort of controversy. But not to the extent that it did.”

The controversy I’m alluding to here is not difficult to predict. Particularly on Instagram, Anouska’s comments were flooded with assumptions about her friends sexuality and vague references to the ‘gay agenda’ and accusations of ‘brainwashing.’ “Please stop feminising men!” One comment read.

“You can’t assume sexuality based on what a guy wears or how they present themselves,” explained Anouska, “I know its not for every guy. I’m not trying to push an agenda that every guy should get their nails done. But for some guys is is really cool!”

The truth is, though, that nail art, just the same as every other form of art we covet nowadays, has an extensive history that is largely misunderstood today.

While we may currently be amid an era of accessorising being a more ‘feminine’ trait, this has not always been the case, and is far from being any kind of biological truth.

In fact, the first evidence of humans altering their nails goes as far back as 3500bc, when warriors would use beauty rituals like manicures to prepare for battles. In ancient Egypt, manicured nails were considered a status symbol for their kings. It was not until the 20th century where we see the focus in nail art shift to women.

It is clear that, to Anouska, the backlash was far from a refection of any wrongdoing, but instead a symbol of a widespread insecurity. Insecurity that putting even a finger outside of the norm could somehow infringe upon the sense of masculinity that so many people chase. “I get it. A lot of people have a lot of opinions. But I got to a point where I was like… what you guys are saying is actually none of my business. I stand by what I said.”

It wasn’t all negative though. “I have had many guys message asking to book in.” Anouska revealed, “I don’t do clients anymore, but it was really nice to see so many guys do want to branch out and try something new. I think its amazing. So positive.”

It may be a while before we see the average Joe hitting the streets with a fresh set, it is clear that, with the help of artists like Anouska and some very fashionable men, we are slowly pushing the boundaries of men’s fashion, creating designs that are as stylish as they are masculine.

After all, what could be braver or stronger than standing out from the crowd?

And if you are a guy looking to dip a finger into the wonderful world of nail art, remember that the possibilities are endless.
Anouska’s advice? “Start small, maybe get a design on your pinky, see if you like it! Do what makes you happy! If you like it, that’s all that matters.”