How to Do a Classic French Manicure
The beginnings of the French manicure are a little unclear. Some say that the always-trendy Parisians were indeed the first to style their nails with a nude base and pristine white tips. Other say that Max Factor was the originator of the French manicure and that he had merely labeled it ‘French’ to lend it that special flair.
Wherever the French manicure came from, one thing is true: it’s a classic that’s as popular now as it is then. Though it’s not exactly the latest nail trend, the French manicure is still the go-to style for many women, whether with a pink, beige, or nude base tipped with pure white. This is because the French manicure is highly versatile. It’s appropriate for the office and for post-work dinner or drinks. It goes with almost every outfit. It makes you look effortlessly put-together and elegant.
Applying a French manicure is not as effortless, though. If your French manicure is going to look flawless, the nail technician must be precise. Applying white polish to just the tips of the nails requires a steady hand. And the tips do need to be perfect; after all, that’s what makes the French manicure French.
With a lot of practice, you can do the French manicure on your own. Here’s what you need to do to get that clean, streak-free French manicure.
What you’ll need:
- Nail polish remover
- Hand moisturizer
- Nail file
- Cotton balls
- Cuticle pusher
- Clear polish for base coat
- Sheer, neutral-color polish
- Opaque white polish
- Clear polish for top coat
- Clean your nails. Use the cotton balls and nail polish remover to completely remove all traces of previously applied nail polish. This will ensure that you literally have a clean slate to work with.
- Apply some moisturizer to your hands and forearms, so the manicure will be a more relaxing experience for you. Go for something with vitamin E to maximize the moisturizing effect for your hands and arms.
- Completely wipe off excess moisturizer from your hands and nails. With the cuticle pusher, gently push back the cuticles under they only slightly frame the nail. Once the cuticles frame your nails, use the nail file to shape the tip of your nails. Round, square, squoval – it’s completely up to you. Finish preparing your nails by quickly using the buffer over the surface of your nails. This makes the surface of your nails smooth so you can apply the base coat more evenly.
- Apply the base coat. A coat of clear polish will do. If you prefer, you can coat your nails with a layer of ridge filler before you lay on the base coat, so your nails’ surface is more even.
- Now it’s time to apply your neutral and white nail polish. If you want a white tip that really stands out, apply a coat of the neutral polish first. Use three strokes – down the center and then down the sides – to apply the neutral polish. Don’t apply more than one coat even if the polish looks streaky; that will even out as your nails dry.
After the neutral polish dries, you’ll apply the white polish on the tips of your nails. There are some tools you can use to make the application easier. You can get French manicure kits that include thin stencil strips you can stick on your nails or you can use a white nail crayon to mark the area you’ll fill with white polish. You want to color only the part of the nail with no skin underneath. Use one smooth stroke to apply the white nail polish.
If you want a less stark, softer white on the tips of your nails, reverse this step so you’re painting a coat of neutral nail polish over the white tip.
- Apply a layer of top coat to your nails, to give your nails that smooth, polished look. Avoid doing anything with your hands until the nail polish is completely dry. This will ensure that your French manicure is perfect.
Doing your French manicure on your own can help you save money, but it will take you some practice to get your DIY French manicure look like a pro job. There are many kits you can buy at drugstores and beauty shops, and you can even put a kit together for less than what a French manicure kit would cost. Just make sure to choose high-quality nail polish, so your manicure looks clean and elegant.