To date, I have 82 bottles of nail polish. As someone who considers lipstick only as full makeup, nail polish is the way I express myself. I have reds, pinks, greens, blues, purples, oranges, yellows, glitters, and special-occasion polishes. I often paint one hand a solid color, with the other hand featuring various iterations of line art.
Despite what my mother thinks, each shade is a little bit different. Some leave a matte, gloss, or subtle finish. Others are highly pigmented and great for a show-stopping entrance to an event, while some work best on my slightly lighter winter skin complexion.
Still, I always feel the most empowered when my nails are red. I love the confidence it brings and the way it can transform an outfit. However, red didn't always make me feel empowered. Growing up with red paint on my nails often had me convinced by society that the color was devilish, inappropriate, or promiscuous.
Unfortunately, in the Black community, there is some sensitivity around the color red, and embracing it hasn't always been the norm. That was the case for Na'Tasha Simmons, founder of XXVZ, a vegan and cruelty-free nail lacquer brand. "Women, Black women especially, are told from a very young age that red means promiscuity and that it makes you look too grown when—in reality, and other cultures—it means power and good fortune," Simmons tells Byrdie. "Black women are told what colors we can wear based on our skin tone. While for others, every color is their color."
With that in mind, Simmons launched her nail polish brand of red-based colors in 2020. "Aside from loving the color red, I wanted to reclaim the fact that red meant promiscuity in my culture. Personally, for me, red is a power suit for your nails," she says. "The collection looks to take back a color that was frowned upon by encouraging my customers that red is for you if you want it to be."
With the boldness of the color red as the foundation, the vision for XXVZ is to provide all ethnicities and binaries an alternative. "XXVZ strives to offer bold lacquer that is carefully curated to showcase your individuality," Simmons adds. "As a founder who comes from an ethnic background that has often been excluded, we welcome uniqueness," she says. "We want your stubby nails, your chubby fingers, and your freckled fingers. We want our nail polish on as many hands as possible because we are a nail polish for all people."
With 20 colors in the lineup, next up for the nail polish entrepreneur will be expanding into spas and more retailers. Currently, the product is sold on the XXVZ website and a vintage shop in Brooklyn, New York. Ahead, shop some of our favorite polishes from the brand.