Fluoro nails! Top knots! Black lipstick! Let’s talk about the beauty trends that repel men the most

YSL fall 2008

So you know how I’ve been wearing some blindingly bright nail polish lately? (As mentioned in last week’s Beauty Editor’s Picks video, it’s the Day-Glo pink shade called “It Girl” from Sally Hansen’s excellent Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips.) Well, I discovered two things this weekend: 1) Women love it. And 2) Men hate it.

Broad generalizations? Maybe. But as soon as my (stylish, beauty-aware) friend swung by to pick me up on Friday night, the first words out of her mouth after “Hi!” were “I love your nails!” and “What shade is that?!?” (Of course, the name “It Girl” is terrifically appropriate for a nail polish, because I’ve been saying for a while that nails are the new “It” accessory instead of handbags.)

Anyway, once we arrived at our destination of choice, a few drinks in and select members of the male population were divulging that they, in fact, haaaaated the colour. Like, really hated it.

Clearly, there is a great divide between the sexes. So, with a nod to Miss Man Repeller herself, who has also written on this subject, let’s talk about which beauty trends bug men the most—and whether we actually care.


NYFW F11 Behnaz Sarafpour 1 Fluoro nails! Top knots! Black lipstick! Lets talk about the beauty trends that repel men the most

What “repels”: Even though creative nail polish colours and patterns (and even nail shapes) are, like, the most exciting thing to happen in beauty for AGES, I think most men would be happy to shut that shiz down.  Like I said, fluorescent anything is pretty much a non-starter, even if it’s pink. And fuchsia is still borderline. I can still remember the reaction from an old boyfriend to pedicure I got years and years ago. I was SO thrilled with my hot pink toenails and never in a million years would I have dreamed anyone could find it fug. (Needless to say, that relationship didn’t last.) Of course, it goes without saying that there’s a long list of unconventional nail colours that men just don’t “understand”: the dark, Gothic shades (black, burgundy, navy), the grieges, the taupes and the brights (oranges, yellows, greens).

What “attracts”: Pale pink, on the other hand, is universally accepted. And you can’t really go wrong with a basic red (although I’ve heard some say even that is “too much.” Sheesh.) Oh, and in case you were wondering, men are the reason that the French manicure (and worse, PEDICURE) refuses to die:

french manicure square tips Fluoro nails! Top knots! Black lipstick! Lets talk about the beauty trends that repel men the most

Why IS it that season after season, most of the female contestants on The Bachelor have nails like this? There’s a clear correlation here, so I have to conclude that guys dig it.


Kelli Garner top knot Fluoro nails! Top knots! Black lipstick! Lets talk about the beauty trends that repel men the most

What “repels”: Nothing is more man-repelling, really, than the top knot. Women think it’s adorbs—and in the summer, there is no better hairstyle for keeping cool—but there is an inverse relationship between the size and position of your topknot and your relative hotness level according to men. The higher it’s placed on your head (i.e., the more it looks like a Sumo wrestler instead of a ballerina bun), and the more that the size of said knot approaches the size of your head (see: Whitney Port), the riskier it is. (Although even I have to agree with that last one. Whitney’s execution was all wrong.) Other hairstyles are more hit and miss. I had a boyfriend who loved ponytails, but I’ve also had guys tell me that I look “soooooo much better with my hair down.” (Um, thanks? Sounds like an observation along the same lines as Ye Olde “Are you tired? You look tired.”)

What “attracts”: There is a reason they call it “bedroom hair.” If appealing to the opposite sex is your goal, your go-to hairstyle should be long, loose, softly waved and voluminous. Full stop.


Rachel McAdams Morning Glory closeup Fluoro nails! Top knots! Black lipstick! Lets talk about the beauty trends that repel men the most

What “repels”: Do men pay that much attention to eyeshadow and eyeliner? Not unless it’s orange, yellow, bright blue or green. I don’t know if wearing a single shocking shade, in the style of Rachel McAdams, above, is a dealbreaker. But certainly, if you’re doing something like the rainbow eyes from frequent eye makeup-experimenter Derek Lam circa S/S ’10, you might want to save it for your girlfriends.

dereklam face Fluoro nails! Top knots! Black lipstick! Lets talk about the beauty trends that repel men the most

What “attracts”: I think men like to believe we ladies have naturally big, bright eyes and dark, thick, full lashes. Anything they can’t really detect—black mascara, subtle taupey shadow and liner—won’t get complaints, although I don’t think many men are too opposed to a smokier look, as long as it’s done tastefully in neutral shades.


Y 3 SPRING RTW 2011 BEAUTY 003 runway Fluoro nails! Top knots! Black lipstick! Lets talk about the beauty trends that repel men the most

What “repels”: No surprises here. Just like men hate nail polish that is a) too dark, b) too bright or c) in an unusual colour, the same thing goes with lipstick. If you aim to please, steer clear of the vampy burgundies and purples, bright oranges and hot pinks. Basically everything fun, really. Oh, and that blue lipstick micro-trend I’ve seen on Kesha and around certain parts of town?

Kesha blue lipstick Fluoro nails! Top knots! Black lipstick! Lets talk about the beauty trends that repel men the most

Yeah, no.

What “attracts”: Just like in nails, there are really only two choices here. Classic red, although that’s not a universal winner. Or a run-of-the-mill pale pink lipstick or gloss. (Yawn.) But speaking of gloss—regardless of what men think, I’d definitely try to avoid the goopy, sticky ones (sorry,  M.A.C Lipglass and Lancôme Juicy Tubes, I’m looking at you). I’m a HUGE, HUGE fan of the new hybrid gloss-balms, which give you the same shine but feel like a moisturizing lip balm. I’m currently using Givenchy’s, which is incredible (more on that soon), but you can read up here on a new one from CoverGirl.

So in conclusion? All of this can be summed up in three words: Men are boring.

Tell me:

Has a man ever dissed one of your beauty choices?
Do you care what the male population thinks of your nails/hair/lipstick etc.?
Which beauty trends do you think men hate the most? (And if you are a man reading this, we’d love to hear more from the source…)


Elaine A
Monday, April 4/2011 at 2:55 pm

This is timely, I’ve been sporting the bold lip lately and I wore a really stand out red yesterday and my husband gave me a funny look and said “your lips are so red” :P


Monday, April 4/2011 at 3:09 pm

They know nothing!!!

One day I was wearing my neon orange lips, then my boyfriend cringed and said they look “so ’80s.” It bothered me that day, but not anymore. Now he just has to learn how to deal with it.

I think men are most bothered by the bright lips, or worse, goopy lips. Good thing I’m not a lipgloss girl. :)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, April 7/2011 at 6:56 pm

Hilarious! I think they need to be trained. Although I can understand the dislike of goopy or bright lips – messy and gets on clothes if you’re makin’ out (as you should be!)


Monday, April 4/2011 at 3:25 pm

Bright colors are definitely out in all forms – lips, nails, eyeshadow, etc. My boyfriend prefers no makeup of any kind but if I must wear it (which of course I do) he only likes the barely-there shades. The one exception is dark-ish lipstick and burgundy nails – he’s the rock n roll type so he doesn’t mind those. And shockingly he doesn’t hate my top knot either, but it’s never very outrageous.

All in all – he’s totally boring. Men just don’t understand :(


Monday, April 4/2011 at 3:25 pm

Thank you for speaking out against the scourge that is the French Manicure/Pedicure. Without a doubt the trashiest trend ever.

When I think of the contestants on the Bachelor, I think their manis are saying, “hi random dude. I am pliable and insecure and will do whatever you want sexually. Because really, all I want out of life is to become a reality show star and/or marry some skeevy guy I don’t know really well.”


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, April 7/2011 at 6:58 pm

I was thinking of you when I wrote that, of course! Oh and did you see Arianne’s tweet? Her boyfriend mentioned how he liked some girl’s French pedi. I die!!!


Monday, April 4/2011 at 3:54 pm

My French roomate (currently on exchange) upon seeing my bright pink nails told me they made me look trashy… fortunately there were other French girls around to defend my nails!

Men need to learn to have fun!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, April 7/2011 at 6:59 pm

And women too, apparently!


Monday, April 4/2011 at 6:22 pm

Totally agree with you Liza! Something about French manis sscream easy?

I’ve had one bf tell me he likes my long hair but I should dye it blonde. So I dyed it darker and cut it all off. And I had my last boyfriend tell me I should dye my hair black. So I dyed it blonde. Haha! I think men can keep their boring opinions to themselves.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, April 7/2011 at 7:01 pm

Hilarious! I think we would be more inclined to listen to them if they actually had good taste. Am always shocked when I find out how so many don’t. (French pedis? Nonononono)


Monday, April 4/2011 at 6:39 pm

Ha, this is a great topic. I’ve had men pick up my eyelash curler and stare at it confusedly. Also, I’ve heard so many guys say (not necessarily to me) ‘I like girls who don’t wear makeup,’ ‘You look so much better without makeup,’ etc. I think that a lot of them see a girl and think she’s wearing no makeup when really she’s just wearing subtle makeup and wearing it really well. Nothing obvious, like no bright pink lipstick or whatever.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, April 7/2011 at 7:03 pm


They have no idea how much makeup it takes to look natural. (And that’s also a Calvin Klein line – my favourite beauty quote actually.) I think they would beg for mercy if we actually went around with bare faces…


Monday, April 4/2011 at 8:41 pm

It all sounds very logical to me. Boring, true, ESPECIALLY for nail colors (burgundy?! really?!?! Pshh..). But it’s logical to think that men don’t like excessive makeup. They wanna know what their girl looks like from the get go, not after she washed up 2 miles of makeup off her face! They think: hey, if she has to wear THAT much makeup to feel beautiful, she must be fugly without it. As for the lip shades, I wonder what guy would not think twice before kissing a girl with bright fushia lips… :P I WONDER. (not really.)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, April 7/2011 at 7:07 pm

I hear you… although like Jessica said above, I think it’s them not liking makeup in theory – when in reality they are ok with tasteful, undetectable makeup. I guess you are right though re: bright lips – it all comes down to the physical aspect doesn’t it? Oh men…


Monday, April 4/2011 at 10:29 pm

My ex hated hair extensions. He said the idea of running his hands through someone else’s hair freaked him out! But of course, he liked the boring french manicure on my nails and hated it when I got a bright pink or purple manicure! Thank goodness he’s gone haha. I’m at a point in my life now where its like Hey, I like to experiment with beauty products, if you have a problem with it, then go away! This is who I am, it’s not changing anytime soon!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, April 7/2011 at 7:08 pm

Well, I’m with him on the hair extensions thing. But I seriously don’t get the bright nail thing. WHY DO THEY ALL HATE IT?


Makeup Morsels
Monday, April 4/2011 at 11:18 pm

Yeah…this is all true lol. I remember once I was in class, and the guys were wondering what the difference between lipgloss and lipstick was. You know what they concluded? They decided that lipgloss was for special occasions, and lipstick was for “old lady prostitutes.” Hmm…

I agree w/ Jessica too. A lot of times when guys think girls aren’t wearing makeup, they actually are. I guess it’s just not obvious to them.


Tuesday, April 5/2011 at 12:36 am

yea, guys generally prefer the “no makeup” makeup. it’s hilarious that they’re so gullible though, most girls look better with a bit of concealer, mascara, and blush and wear at least those three things! it reminds me of all those songs with lyrics about how girls look better with no makeup on. these guys really just don’t know better!

my boyfriend hates all lipstick and red nails (not that i listen to him). i think a lot of girls, me included, dress up to impress other girls. not that we don’t know what guys want, it’s just that a compliment from a fashion/makeup savvy girl is often worth so much more!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, April 7/2011 at 7:10 pm

Very true about women dressing for women not men. You need to walk through the halls of a fashion magazine some time!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, April 7/2011 at 7:09 pm

OMG hilarious! I guess I am an “old lady prostitute” then… wow.


Monday, April 4/2011 at 11:23 pm

As much as I hate to admit it, my evil ex boyfriend was pretty modern with the makeup thing. He thought my dark cherry toes were sexy, and when I tried a new thing with my makeup or even took extra time to do it well, he noticed and said something about it. So I might miss that part of him. Although the fixation with appearances should’ve hinted me early on that he was no good in the end….


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, April 7/2011 at 7:11 pm

Yeah, at the end of the day I think it’s best to have a guy who doesn’t get too involved with this stuff! Too much interest and I always think of that scene from Legally Blonde where the guy identifies her shoes as last season Prada.


Tuesday, April 5/2011 at 11:42 am

Hilarious, actually, because a male friend of mine recently told me that he finds topknots endlessly sexy. I had just thrown my hair up because the bar was getting packed and sweaty and he was like, “I love that girls have been doing that hairstyle lately.” I was surprised that he found them sexy, when I consider topknots a really “neutral” look.

As for nails: I’ve had guys tell me they love that I switch up my nail colour so often and with really bright colours. Maybe the inverse of man-repelling nail polish is that it shows you’re into grooming? Maybe it’s just my guy friends? I will concede however that the French Mani continues to subsist because of men. My girlfriends and I call it the “Iced Capp Mani” because it reminds us of girls who hang out in Tim Horton’s parking lots in the suburbs. Totally mean, I know :(


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, April 7/2011 at 7:13 pm

It’s funny – just yesterday I was telling this to a hairstylist (a straight one) and he said when he sees topknots he goes gaga… so maybe it depends on the coolness level of the guy. :-)


Tuesday, April 5/2011 at 12:49 pm

my hubs is pretty good with just not saying anything if he does think my bold lips or flouro nails are ugly. smart man. funny you mentioned the top knot because some dude the other day said it sucks that buns are “back in” because they’re “total boner killers”.

case in point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRkih6TJVgc

I’ll always love my weird nails and messy french bun, though. don’t care!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, April 7/2011 at 7:14 pm

Smart man!


Tuesday, April 5/2011 at 6:38 pm

Just surveyed the Mr. on these items (while he cooks dinner, he can see my screen), and wasn’t too surprised with the results. Loves weird polishes (paints his toes totally digusting colours, like orange with green sparkles), likes topknots (into necks) and came up to talk to me at a bar when I was Gothed out in purple-black lipstick & eyeliner. But hated the multi-coloured eyeliner, & prefers it when I go without makeup.

But he’s also stated flat out he can barely tell when I wear makeup (I rarely wear lipstick, always eye makeup if I’m leaving the house), so I a) am doing it well, & b) don’t need it.

He’s a long-haired, nail-polish wearing construction worker, though, so he really doesn’t care what other people think. I aspire to that!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, April 7/2011 at 7:15 pm

Sounds like he’s more enlightened than most!


Nomadic D
Sunday, April 10/2011 at 5:36 am

I am a lucky lucky girl, just last night my husband told me how cute my bright purple nails looked. And most other cosmetics go unnoticed, the only thing he hates are spidery overly-mascara-ed lashes. Seems like a pretty random pet peeve to me, but oh-so-easy to avoid since i don’t like it either. He also loves my hair up in a top not. Lip gloss doesn’t get any comments out of him, but it certainly won’t get me any kisses either ;) I think in general he’s a little more off-put by some of my fashion choices than my makeup choices, but even then, we’ve just agreed that I’m a little more adventurous than he is and if he doesn’t like something, well that’s fine, I’ll be wearing something different the next day!



Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, April 15/2011 at 8:27 pm

Uh-oh, does he know that chunky, spidery lashes are a trend for fall 2011? :-)

Sounds like you have a very tolerant man though – lucky you!


Thursday, April 14/2011 at 5:33 pm

This post actually makes a lot of sense to me. My guy friends (and past boyfriends) have always said I look better without makeup on. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t wear a ton of it (Kim Kardashian does not live her thank you very much) but they still say they like me better with nuttin’ … which is basically what this post is saying. Wear things that don’t really stand out — look “natural” and the boys like it.

I think that’s nuts and super boring tho :) And really, I still get a lot of looks when rockin’ a smokey eye and pale lip ;)


Friday, April 15/2011 at 8:16 pm

I had to laugh when I read the part about men thinking that we come equipped with big bright eyes that need no liner or mascara. Just the other day my boyfriend remarked that it looked weird when I put on mascara and that he couldn’t tell if I had it on anyway. I told him to be thankful that I was putting in the effort.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, April 16/2011 at 12:43 pm

That’s so cute! They have no idea do they?


Sunday, May 1/2011 at 10:17 am

Like i’ve always said…You can tell the class of a woman by the length of her nails…I tell all my guy friends to stay clear of girls wearing fake acrylics extending over the length of their fingertips….they are obviously trashy and have no taste…mean but true!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, May 1/2011 at 4:44 pm

Well if they are square tips yes! (Ick.) But I’ve definitely noticed on some celebrities and my more fashionable friends that long nails are back… but the fashion-y version is pointy ends. I’ll be sitting out that trend however. :-)


Cindi C
Friday, May 6/2011 at 12:27 pm

I guess I’m very lucky! My husband loves bold colours, edgy hairstyles, and absolutely looooves it when I get out there nail art done ala Japanese nail trends. So it comes to show that not all men are boring when it comes to girl dress ups, you just need to know where to find the interesting ones ;)


Friday, May 20/2011 at 3:22 pm

I guess I have things quite good; my boy friend only compliments me with my make up and nail choises.. or doesnt say anything :D No I mean, he likes me without make up and said that the first time he saw me “fresh” he was very supprised.. but I am blond and you can’t even see my lashes without mascara. He compliments my make up, likes me with bright lipstics, kisses me when i have lip gloss, doesn’t mind dark polish… (and we’re not a new couple either :D)

It can be also that I dont ever go over board and carry myself with confidence what ever I have chosen to wear that day :) I think we shouldnt anyway think too much what the boys think and try to please them if we really enjoy some other look more. Anyway, a girl with lipstick on show’s she has power ;)


Wednesday, August 31/2011 at 4:33 pm

Well Boys usually only like natural makeup, but just a teeny bit of color on the lids actually appeal to most guys as long as it’s not neon and as long as you don’t wear it too often. For every day, all girls should stick to natural eye makeup. Lots of guys like Soft pastel colored nail polish with or without cute little French tips, but only if the French white tips are really thin because otherwise they say you look trashy. But I dress for myself. My boyfriend loves my for my personality more than for my style :)


Saturday, September 3/2011 at 6:35 pm

Oddly, even though guys hate crazy colored makeup, they love crazy hair. Since I started dyeing my hair bright, unnatural colors I’ve gotten nothing but compliments from guys. In particular they dig Christmas red and purple.


Sunday, November 27/2011 at 6:32 pm

I LOVE long nails, have my own web site http://www.fingernailfashion.com, am a qualified nail technician and I am a straight male. Firstly, men’s tastes vary widely. There are those who find any form of makeup unattractive and those who love the latest trends.

I think you have nailed it for what guys like. What turns them on is fairly fixed but evolves slowly during their lives.

Things like the trend to square ends to nails was popularised by Vietnamise nail bars because they were quicker to do and thus more profitable. Just because girls have been conned into thinking it is fashionable guys are not going to find it a turn on.

As for colours too many girls wear the wrong colours for their skin tones. eg. blondes should not wear orange. Colour consultants just don’t have the traction they had in the 1980′s.


Saturday, January 7/2012 at 6:51 pm

My hubby is luckily the opposite! He loves the unusual and bright!
Example, I ask what colour lippy to wear, his reply almost every time is “the purple one” (fetish lipstick or fierce lipgloss by illamasqua) I guess I’m just lucky to find someone that embraces my bright and aadventurous side!


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