How To Nail A French Manicure At Home

By Charlie Colville

4 weeks ago

Très chic

Love it or hate it – and, this time around, we’re definitely loving it – the French manicure has made a triumphant return to the beauty scene. If you fancy trying your hand at the classic nail look, you’re in luck; we’ve got plenty of tips and tricks from industry professionals to get you started.

More 2024 Nail Trends

What Is A French Manicure?

Featuring a nude base and white tips, a French manicure is easily one of the most requested nail art designs at salons. Leaning on the tenets of natural-looking nails, the manicure recreates the look of the nail underneath while elevating it with clean colours and lines.

@gabbyangeliquee my favorite french tip nail hacks #nailhack #frenchtipnails ♬ Sunshine – WIRA

‘French manicures are a true classic for so many reasons,’ says manicurist and Senior Mylee Ambassador, Tinu Bello. ‘Not only do they exude a timeless and elegant aesthetic that never goes out of style, but the clean, natural look is universally flattering and suitable for any occasion, from everyday wear to special events. Thanks to their natural appearance, they not only complement any outfit or style, but they provide a lengthening effect – making them ideal for those with shorter nail beds or small hands.’

Those who frequented nail salons in the noughties and early 2010s will no doubt remember the buzz around French tips – and now, they’re back and bigger than ever. Gen Z are adamantly leading the trend (a quick scan on TikTok shows that there are currently 76 million posts on TikTok tagged under #frenchtipsnails), with both classic French manis and new, colourful takes taking hold. ‘The French manicure is becoming incredibly versatile,’ agrees Tinu. ‘It can easily be customized. Whether you prefer a classic look, a modern twist or added embellishments like glitter or colours, there are endless variations to explore.’

Why Is It Called A French Manicure?

While it might be experiencing a resurgence this season, the French manicure has decades of history under its belt. The look itself dates back to the 1930s, when Maxfactor marketed the neutral nail and white tip combo to its French market. Flash forward to the 1975, and the look becomes a hit amongst Hollywood’s A-listers – largely thanks to manicurist and ORLY founder Jeff Pink, who gives it the name ‘French manicure’.

During the 1970s, it was common practice for actresses’ nails to be redone for every wardrobe change – an act which was time-consuming for teams on set. Manicurists were subsequently tasked by directors to create an adaptable nail look that could be used in multiple scenes, and Pink offered up the French manicure. The rest, as they say, is history.

@nailsbywas Pink euphoria inspired french tip #nails #nailtok #fyp #acrylics #london #nailtech ♬ I Want U – Genshin

How To Ask For The Look In The Salon

Your manicurist will already be very familiar with the classic French manicure, but if you want to try a variation on the trend you’ll need to have a clear idea of what you like (as well as some reference photos for your nail tech).

How To Recreate The Look At Home

For those keen to try the trend at home, Tinu shares her step-by-step guide to nailing the French manicure using gel polish:

  1. Prepare Your Nails: Start by removing any old gel polish and trimming any excess length from your nails, before filing them into your desired shape; the classic French tip look typically features a square or slightly rounded shape.’ begins Tinu. ‘Soak your hands in warm, soapy water for a few minutes to soften the cuticles, then gently push them back using a cuticle pusher.’
  2. Apply A Base Coat: ‘Apply a thin layer of base coat to all of your nails and cure using an LED lamp,’ Tinu advises. ‘This will create a smooth surface for your mani. Cure each coat for 30 to 60 seconds.’
  3. Create Your Nude Base: ‘Carefully apply a sheer pink or nude polish over the entire nail,’ says Tinu. ‘You can apply one or two coats of the sheer polish depending on the opacity you desire. Cure each coat completely (for 30 to 60 seconds) before applying the next.’
  4. Apply White Polish:‘Once you’ve cured your nude base, carefully apply a white nail polish to the tips of your nails. You can use a steady hand, a liner polish with a built-in fine brush or a stamp (which completely avoids the need for painting),’ recommends Tinu. ‘If you do make an error, you can use a corrector pen to clean up any uncured, unwanted product. Cure your white gel polish before moving on to the next step.’
  5. Seal With Top Coat: ‘Once your nails are completely cured and you’re happy with your result, finish off your French manicure by applying a top coat,’ she says. ‘This will add shine to your nails, and help to seal and protect the polish. Make sure to apply the top coat evenly and seal the edges of your nails to prevent chipping. Cure accordingly.’

Modern French Manicure Ideas To Try Next

1. Reverse French Manicure


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2. French Fade


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3. Glitter Mani


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4. Rainbow French


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5. French Tip Outline


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6. Patterned Tips


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7. Striped French

8. Swirl Tips


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9. Love Hearts


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10. Half French Manicure


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A post shared by Ciara‍♀️ (@polish.sparkle.glow)

Featured image: Getty Images