How to Do a French Manicure at Home
What is a French Manicure?
A French Manicure is a style of polishing the nails wherein white paint is applied to the tips of the fingernails, and the rest of the nails are given a pink coat or painted with sheer polish that is colored either pale pink or very light beige. Many women like this type of manicure for its natural appearance. This nail style looks well-groomed without being fussy or flashy and is appropriate for short to moderately long nails.
Fashion experts have differing views on the French Manicure. Some think that the French Manicure has gone pass and outdated, while some are of the opinion that the French Manicure is a classic that will never go out of style. But whatever the fashion gurus think, many women go for the French Manicure because of its simplicity and the natural look that it evokes. The French Manicure also gives the nails that clean, well-groomed appearance that is neither flashy nor fussy.
There is some debate about the history of this style of fingernail design. However, many believe it originated in the 1930s in Paris and may have been the brainchild of Max Factor. The term "French Manicure" was first trademarked in the 1970s by nail care company Orly. The company still makes nail care items and markets supplies for French style nail designs.
Straight or Curved?
A classic French Manicure has the white tips in a straight line across the end of the nail. However, many women prefer a curved white area that follows the natural curvature of the nail bed. Not only does this style look less fussy, it can make short nails appear longer.
- You can find ready-assembled kits that contain everything you need for your manicure in one box; if you are a novice, you may find these handy.
- If you aren't good at doing French Manicure yourself, but don't want to pay nail salon prices, see if you and a friend can do each other's nails.
- Paint an extra layer of top coat on your nails each night to extend the life of your manicure.
- Don't like the stark white of the tips on your nails? Try using a slightly off-white polish for the tips under a pale pink sheer polish for a less extreme look.
- Keep the white tip area thin; if it is too wide, it looks chunky.
- While French Manicures are still the height of fashion, many trend-watchers suggest that the French Pedicure is passé.
French Manicure: Do It Yourself
STEP 1: It's essential to prepare your hands and nails before applying nail polish. First, ex-foliate your hands by massaging them using a small amount of body scrub. Rinse with water and dry thoroughly. One of the main causes of chapped hands is not drying them properly after washing.
STEP 2: File your nails. If they are brittle or tend to split, keep them flat across the top with smooth, rounded edges. When filing, move in one direction, from outer corner to centre-sawing movements can damage the nail plate. Choose a nail file with a fine surface that glides over the nail.
STEP 3: Coat hands in a layer of sweet almond oil, to nourish and soften, then wrap in a warm towel and relax for 15 minutes. Unwrap, and gently push back cuticles using a rubber hoof stick (available from most chemists). Never use cuticle clippers, as they can nick the skin. Rinse hands with warm water and dry thoroughly to remove any oil residue.
STEP 4: Apply one coat of base coat over your entire nail and allow a couple of minutes to dry. This will help strengthen the nail. Some products also level fine ridges and imperfections, leaving a smooth surface to apply polish. There's a wide range of base coats to choose from.
STEP 5: For a square look, paint a straight line across the tips; for a rounded appearance, follow the curve of the nail; and to get a pointed style, paint in from each side to the center. Some manicure kits include sticky strips to use as a guide. When applying, lay your hand on a flat surface and keep the ball of your painting hand steady by resting it on the same surface. Leave to dry.
STEP 6: Finally, apply a coat of translucent shell-pink nail polish over the entire nail to seal the whitened tip and complete the look. Allow 10 minutes for it to dry. For extra shine and protection, apply a clear, glossy top coat.
French Manicure Designs
The original French Manicure is instantly recognizable. If the classic sheen and soft color aren't complete giveaways, the white tip definitely is. The look is clean, modern and sophisticated, appealing to women of all ages.
Reverse French Manicure
While the traditional manicure calls for sheers and lily whites, nothing is off-limits with a colored design. Follow these steps to achieve the perfect colored tip French Manicure, also known as a Reverse French Manicure:
- Coat the nail with an opaque shade, such as the white you would normally use on the tips. Allow it to dry completely before completing the rest of the steps. This will ensure that the process is slightly less messy.
- Apply a half-moon nail tip guide, such as those by Orly, to the nails.
- Use a darker color, such as black or red, or a shimmery shade like gold or silver, and paint the tips.
- Seal with a top coat, such as Sally Hansen's Mega Shine Extended Wear Top Coat.
Chevron French Manicure
Chevron French is very similar to the traditional French Manicure. This look boasts an edgier style instead of the soft, rounded shape of the white tips. The tip meets in a sharp point in the center, resulting in an updated take on the classic look. Achieve this look by replacing the half-moon tip guides with chevron tips. Follow the steps for the reverse manicure, using any color combination you wish.
Diagonal French Manicure
This is a modern take on the traditional French Manicure. To achieve it, use a strip of tape to create a diagonal line. The area above the line will serve as your tip. This look is so sleek and fashionable that it doesn't require much else -- use traditional colors, such as white tips and sheer beige or pink nails, to finish the look. Again, follow the steps above.
Marbled French Manicure
Unleash your creativity with this look. You'll need at least three of your favorite colors for the look. Try to choose an interesting contrast, such as navy blue, sparkling silver and white, or red, pink and yellow.
- Apply four or five dots of one of your polishes to the nail tip. There is no rhyme or reason to this; simply apply it freely.
- Follow suit with another color, again dotting in a random pattern on the tip.
- Finish with the third polish, dotting in a random fashion.
- If any polish spreads onto the rest of the nail, dip a long brush into a non-acetone remover and gently touch the area up as needed.
- Use a striper brush to achieve the final marbled effect. Drag the brush over the dots of color, using a gentle hand to create soft swirls.