While walking to the store one day, I was feeling bored and uninspired. That is, until a woman passed me wearing sandals and bright red toenail polish caught my eye. I decided to count the number of women wearing different colors of toenail polish that passed by me until I got to the store and then to my place. Out of the 28 women surveyed, 19 were wearing red, 3 had no polish or colorless polish, and 6 had other colors.
This kind of experiment is something that Francis Galton, the great Victorian polymath and Darwin's half-cousin, would have enjoyed. Besides his contributions to statistics, he conducted various curious studies, including surveying women from different cities in Britain to determine which city's women were the most beautiful. Women seem to favor red toenail polish over other colors, which I suspect would hold true for fingernail polish as well.
When I shared this result with a female friend, she confirmed that she would never go without colored polish, and it was almost always red. However, this begs the question: why red? It may be simply because it's the most visible or striking color, but why not orange or yellow? Evolutionary psychologists may have answers, which could involve invoking the colors of berries eaten by our ancestors or the association between the color red and a woman's sexual excitement.
As for me, I'm content with my survey and curious to hear from female readers about their choice of colors or lack of polish. Perhaps one day we can even test the hypothesis on female primates.