Nailing the look: East Asian Gen Z males increasingly open to using cosmetics, nail care – studies

By Nurul Ain Razali

- Last updated on GMT

Gatsby launched its quick-dry nail polish range for men. [Mandom Corporation]
Gatsby launched its quick-dry nail polish range for men. [Mandom Corporation]

Related tags Gatsby nail art Gen Z men's grooming

East Asian Generation Z males are more open to using cosmetics and have even developed a proclivity to nail care, with at least one in two having already tried nail art.

These findings were derived from a survey​ conducted by the Japanese personal care brand Gatsby under the auspices of Mandom Corporation recently and an unrelated study​ by researchers at Eulji University, South Korea.

In the Gatsby survey, at least 40% of the 105 males surveyed from Generation Z – those aged between 10 to 25 years old and born between 1997 and 2012 – were interested in nail care.

“When asked if men’s awareness of cosmetology has increased in recent years, 97.1% of the respondents answered ‘I think so or a little’. You can see that most people feel that men are becoming more cosmetologically aware,”​ Gatsby shared.

Among those found to be interested in nail care and art, a total of 54.8% have experienced the process. Within this group, 52.2% said they needed some form of care at least once a week.

Subsequently, due to the high frequency of care given to nails, they reported higher interest and increased beauty consciousness and meticulousness.

The respondents also reported the responses towards their proclivity, such as “I started to be praised by people”​ and “I feel better every time I look at my nails”​. Besides the inherent emotional responses, the interest is manifested physically by their attempts at primping hands with accessories and other fashion-related items.

On the other hand

Respondents for the Gatsby survey who were not exposed to nail art and care casted doubts like “I don’t know how to apply and care”, “I’m worried whether I can do it myself”,​ and “I’m worried about the eyes around me”​. However, 73.6% of them were open to trying nail care and art in future despite the initial hesitance.

Gatsby conducted the survey on the back of its quick-drying nail polish line that comprises four functions in one formulation. One 10ml bottle, costing 1,430 yen (USD$10.50), could act as the base coat, top coat, colour and reinforcement coat all at once.

The six-SKU line has two categories: natural, with yellow and orange hues, and edgy, with black and silver tones. According to Gatsby, its clear beige colour has been selected as the up-and-coming cosmetic under the Loft Best Cosmetics in 2022.


The trend is corroborated by Eulji University’s research titled “A Study on the Use of Cosmetics by Male Consumers in South Korea, China, and Japan and the Direction for Development”​, published in the Journal of Convergence for Information Technology.

The researchers referenced a National Consumer Panel Survey on 52,500 consumers aged 15 to 79 in Japan.

The survey found that the size of the male cosmetics market increased to 104% year on year despite the economic recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moreover, the Asian market is fast becoming the global hub of beauty, with major players like Japan, South Korea and China demonstrating unique market features. Factors influencing the respective markets include culture, income levels and connectivity to online platforms.

Therefore, the team suggested that brands prepare to fulfil the new male consumer needs based on the trends and concerns and establish differentiated strategies.

“Generation MZ (millennials and Gen Zs) are familiar with the digital environment, such as (using) smartphones and the Internet. They are flexible to change, seek new and different things, and tend to be generous with money or time spent on the things they like. (There is also) the possibility that the male cosmetics market can be expanded from skincare products to colour cosmetics, hair products, and body products,” ​said the varsity researchers.

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