If we had to name one classic beauty trend that continues to reign supreme in the nail world, it would easily be the French manicure. And it makes perfect sense; French manicure nails come right in handy for those who love a clean-cut and polished look. The perfect option for a date night, interview, or wedding day look—or pretty much any event on your agenda—French tip manicures work for just about anyone and any occasion. Now, since we can all agree that heading to the nail salon to get French manicures every week or two can get pretty pricey, the good news is that you can pull this easy nail design together all on your own. Intrigued? Keep reading to learn how to do a French manicure at home.
WHAT IS A FRENCH MANICURE?
First things first, maybe you’re out of the loop and not totally sure what distinguishes this type of nail look. Well, French manicures, also known as pink and white nails, are a style that consists of painting the base of your nails a pale pink, and the tips of your nails white. The goal of a French manicure is to give your nails a natural and understated look, as opposed to the look of fake nails and extensions.
Editor’s note: While the traditional look does feature pink and white polishes, and that’s what we’ll be focusing on here, different French manicure colors also happen to be super trendy. It’s popular to use two contrasting colors or paint just your French tips a bold shade like black or hot pink. After you master the classic look we’re sharing below, feel free to experiment with various hues!
HOW TO CREATE A FRENCH MANICURE
Ready to become a DIY manicure master? Grab your French manicure colors and follow our step-by-step guide below to get the look.
STEP 1: REMOVE OLD NAIL POLISH
Before you reach for your nail polish, you’ll want to make sure that your fingers are prepped and ready to paint! Make sure to remove any old nail polish that’s lingering on your nails.
STEP #2: FILE AND BUFF YOUR NAILS
Next, you’ll want to give your nails a quick trim to make sure that they’re even. Follow up by using a nail file to shape your nails to ensure that they have a smooth shape. While you can rock pretty much any nail shape with this look, we recommend a more rounded shape to really complement the curve of your French tips.
STEP #3: SOAK YOUR NAILS
Place your hands in a bowl with warm water and soak your nails for three to five minutes. This helps soften your cuticles, so they’ll be easy to push back. Use an orange stick to push your cuticles out of the way for a clean look, then apply cuticle oil to moisturize the cuticle and help protect your nails.
STEP #4: APPLY A BASE COAT
Now, it’s time to create some French tip manicure magic! Start by applying a base coat to your nails. This will help protect your nails from stains and nourish and strengthen your nail beds.
STEP #5: REACH FOR YOUR NUDE PINK POLISH
Apply a coat of nude nail polish. Start in the middle and work your way outward as you apply. Once this is dry, you can apply a second coat to get rid of any streakiness. Allow your nails to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
STEP #6: CREATE YOUR FRENCH TIP
At the tips of your nails, where the white part usually is, you’ll want to apply a small line of white nail polish. Work slowly to create a nice, clean French tip. If you’re not too skilled in the art of painting perfect lines, you can use French manicure guides—small stickers that help you section off the area you want to paint. You'll paint over the stickers, and when you pull the guides off, you’ll be left with flawless tips.
Now, if you’re determined to freehand this but your line isn’t perfectly straight, don’t fret. Grab a small nail brush (a paint brush works, too) and dip it in acetone. Glide the brush along the base of the white tip you painted on to clean up the edge. You may need to reach for your nude shade again to touch-up a bit, but you’ll be left with a sharp, professional look.
STEP #7: GRAB YOUR TOP COAT
Once your nails are painted to perfection, it’s time to seal the deal with a top coat. Apply a layer of top coat to your nails to make sure your look goes the distance.
Congratulations, you’ve created the perfect French manicure like a true pro! Why not stick with the French theme and focus on upgrading your makeup routine, next? Head on over to our article, How to Get a French Makeup Look, to tie your entire beauty look together.