Light Blue Nail Theory: How The Shade May Indicate Relationship Status

As trends come and go across social media, there always seems to be at least one at any given time that shares critical information about your love life, relationship status, or dynamic with your partner. The latest is the green line test – quickly debunked as factually and scientifically inaccurate — which purported that a green line drawn down the middle of a picture of a couple could determine the dominant versus the submissive partner. However, experts adamantly disproved the claims loud and clear. Now, the hot relationship trend is the light blue nail theory, spreading the message across social media that the color of your nail polish can denote your relationship status. According to the social media claims, if a person wears light blue nail polish, they are likely in a committed relationship and are, thus, unavailable to be pursued by other people. 

To clarify, there's absolutely zero scientific basis for asserting that light blue nails are symbolic of relationship status other than the meaning ascribed to the color by the person wearing the polish. By this reasoning, if someone simply wants to wear light blue nail polish because they're in the mood for pastel polish or have an affinity for the hue, there's no guiding principle nor official rule stating only people in relationships are permitted to fashion light blue manicures. Light blue is for everyone!

Male partners are said to prefer blue polish

Some people have observed that when someone asks their committed partner which shade of nail polish they should choose for their next manicure or DIY polish application, the monogamous partners tend to prefer light blue. Again, there's no research-founded explanation for this phenomenon nor evidence-backed basis for claiming that partners prefer light blue, but the buzz across the internet has been increasing nonetheless.

From a trend which spread throughout summer 2022, similar shades of blue, from light pastel polish to hues of sky blue, became unexpectedly popular after the same conclusion was made regarding males being favorable towards their female partners fashioning blue manicures.

Per Women's Wear Daily, that summer's trend included an additional explanation from Leatrice Eiseman, director of Pantone Color Institute, who shared that viewing shades of sky blue and close variations of the primary color tends to evoke positive associations, feelings, and memories. From the color's close alignment with the bright blue skies of sunny days to positive emotional associations of warmth and joy, creamier and joyfully scintillating shades, such as Tiffany's iconic blue and light sky blue, are favorites regardless of gender or other defining identity traits. Like the light blue nail theory taken to by social media users, the 2022 sky blue trend ultimately came to represent polish worn by women in committed relationships.

Polish color choice promotes portrayals of gender dynamics

Social media's claims that those who wear light blue nail polish are indicating their status in committed relationships brings up cultural norms which historically represent skewed gender dynamics. TikTok user @juliabernice describes how she learned of the light blue nail theory, how she'd shared this newfound theory with her boyfriend, and how she captured his reaction to her freshly painted light blue manicure. She and her partner shared a joking laugh with each other when she showed off her light blue polish, with her boyfriend remarking how she must have finally decided she's tired of other guys approaching her. Along with numerous examples of the trend posted online, the secret code involving polish is apparently reserved for women in heterosexual relationships, similar to the traditional use of engagement rings as signaling a woman's betrothal to a man. 

According to an article from Psychology Today, a psychological shift occurs when women wear engagement rings, thus signaling their commitment to men. The psychological and sociological connotations of engagement rings alter viewpoints of women's autonomy, nearly instantly indicating their belonging to a man in both mental and physical capacities. The author urges for re-education concerning the autonomy of women and girls based on changing cultural norms. Thus, wearing trendy blue polish as a way to indicate your relationship status to a man is comparable to wearing an engagement ring, particularly since women showcase their commitment while men don't (now, wedding rings are a different story).

Blue pigments are not the only color given meaning online

Light blue isn't the only pigment making the digital rounds with meanings of relationship attachment. In a video posted by TikTok user @professionalnailss, an array of colors are correlated with relationship status beyond just shades of light blue. The clip claims that white nails symbolize being single, pink polish signals being in the early stages of getting to know someone without any confirmed commitment, and the combination of light blue and white nails represents a complicated relationship status.

Another similar nail polish trend is the white nail theory, which users claim is a likely manicure color choice for single people, particularly those who are newly single. The meaning derived from white nail polish aligns with that given to the spectrum of polish pigments, which reinforces white as the shade for singletons. Interestingly, the combination of light blue and white polish in manicure designs signifies an undefined or complicated status. Echoing that polish trends are jovial, not scientific, in nature, reports circle back to male partners disproportionately choosing shades of blue when asked their opinion for polish color choice, underscoring the premise for the light blue nail trend.

Scientific evidence shows that color evokes emotions

Theories about nail polish selections abound online. Though merely wearing blue polish doesn't primitively signal relationship status, research shows that color can evoke emotional responses when viewed — which makes sense considering the ability of sky blue to evoke happy memories and joyful emotions — prompting theories about why male partners lean towards selecting blue polish when asked. Other colors besides blue have been the subject of online theorizing per potential effects related to dating, romance, and relationships. The red nail theory, which advocated that red nails on women spark more male attention, previously spawned notable discussion online.

Emphasizing heterosexual relationships and heteronormative dating practices, the red nail theory began when female users spoke about garnering more male attention with red manicures than without. The number of dates offered to women with red nails was professed and found to have a degree of scientific backing. A 2017 study from the University of California Press found there to be psychological, mental, and emotional correlations between color and perception of thought. The study specifically noted that red is, in fact, a sensual color provoking male attractiveness to female counterparts donning a shade of the primary color. So, while the color of nail polish or any other entity can't denote relationship status, there is truth to the emotional responses that color evokes.

In the end, regardless of relationship attachment, if you like a certain shade, by all means, feel free to rock it!