Alpha Nail, a cosmetics company that claims it is for “Men and Fighters,” is filling the gap in the market for a male-oriented nail polish. What, you didn’t know the market needed male-oriented nail polish?
Well, clearly you were mistaken, because men apparently have very specific nail polish needs that cannot be satisfied by mere normal lady polish.
For starters, Alpha Nail is “Designed by Men. Worn by Warriors.” Oh, okay. I can see how a nail polish designed by men would differ dramatically from—oh no, wait, it’s still just nail polish.
At first I thought the distinction was that the nail polish was matte (although of course regular old ladies’ companies make matte polish too), but no. Alpha Nail also has a Metallics line.
So why do men need Alpha Nail? Let’s let the company tell us: “Designed specifically for men, Alpha Nail is technologically and biologically superior to anything on the market.” That’s right. This nail polish line designed for men is biologically superior to everything else. No implications about gender differences there!
And of course, regular nail polish companies haven’t spent years perfecting their formulas for perfect coverage and application, or anything. Because why would any company expend effort if only women are buying?
It’s like hiring an interior designer for a doghouse, am I right?
Sarcasm aside, the Alpha Nail web site gives no real information on why this nail polish is different from the hundreds of existing brands of nail polish. Instead, it focuses on making sure men know that buying any other brand will emasculate them.
See, men can’t paint their nails because the act of painting is too feminine, so Alpha Nail has accommodated their specific needs: “Our unique click pen applicator does away with those dainty little brushes and girly nail polish containers. Just click, paint, put the cap on, and its [sic] ready to go for another round.”
On the subject of the “clean slate remover,” or as we ladies call it, “nail polish remover,” Alpha Nail has this to say: “Finally our clean slate remover wipes eliminate the need to ever buy a fluffy sack of cotton balls.”
It literally never occurred to me to think of cotton balls as feminine, but now that Alpha Nail has pointed it out, it seems obvious. Everyone knows men hate things that are soft or fluffy, which is why all men sleep on beds of pointy rocks every night.
The kicker is in the fact that most of the web site isn’t about the product at all. Instead, it’s an attempt to convince a male customer that nail polish is something he needs. The point of Alpha Nail is not that it’s a superior product—it’s the marketing.
I’m not an expert, but I can’t imagine that marketing this transparent is very effective. It reminds me of the SNL “Maybelline Man” sketch. Just because the box says “for men” doesn’t mean anyone is fooled into thinking it’s a different product.
If a man is comfortable being seen wearing nail polish, my guess is that he’s probably okay buying a bottle of Revlon like the rest of us.
Magdalena Newhouse is a senior at Oberlin College, where she teaches a class on body positivity and fat acceptance.