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Perfect French Manicure With Gel Or CND Shellac Nail Polish: An At Home How To

Updated on September 15, 2014

The French Manicure: Long Lasting Nails At Home With CND Shellac Or Gel Polish

The French Manicure is a perpetual favorite - it looks classy, goes with everything, and will never go out of style. With the rise of gel and Shellac nail polish, now you can enjoy a perfect French mani for at least two weeks. This style of manicure requires a specific process to get the desired look; but once you know how, it’s easy to do at home. Read on, I’ll show you how!

How Long To Cure?

If you’re using an LED lamp, you’ll cure base coat for 10 seconds and every other coat for 30 seconds. With a UV lamp, cure the base coat for 10 seconds and every other coat for two minutes.

At Home CND Shellac & Gel French Manicure: What You Need

To do a French Manicure on your nails using gel or Shellac polish, there are a few things you’ll need:

  • Four bottles of polish in the line of your choice: base coat, top coat, a pure white, and a sheer tone of pink or peach;
  • Basic manicure tools to clean up your nails before you get started;
  • A lamp to cure your Shellac or gel nails - LED lamps will work on all gel polish but is not guaranteed for Shellac; UV will work across the board;
  • A small paintbrush to clean up the white tips as you go;
  • 100% acetone polish remover in a small dish;
  • 99% alcohol and some cotton balls or cosmetic pads.

Step-By-Step At Home French Manicure With Shellac Or Gel Nail Polish

Here are the steps you’ll take to apply your gel or Shellac polish in the French manicure style:

  1. Prepare your nail bed; do a dry manicure cleaning up and shaping your nails, then wipe each nail down with alcohol; this helps remove any oils or dust from the nail so your gel or Shellac polish will adhere better.
  2. Apply one thin coat of your gel or Shellac base polish and cure for the recommended time.
  3. Apply one thin coat of a sheer polish and cure.
  4. Apply one thin coat of pure white to the tips of your nails, clean up as necessary using a paintbrush and acetone, then cure. I’ll offer tips on this process further on! If you aren’t happy with the opacity, you can do a second coat of white and cure it, but beware making the layers too thick as this may affect your manicure’s ability to cure properly.
  5. Apply a thin top coat over everything and cure.
  6. Wipe each nail with alcohol to remove any tacky residue and add the final touch to your French mani.

You’ll notice I said thin a lot in the steps above! That’s because whether you’re using gel or Shellac polish, thin coats cure better. If your polish is too thick, you may get bubbling or peeling, or your manicure may not last as long. Think thin!

Another tip is to make sure with each coat that you are sealing the tip of the nail. That means after you’ve coated the nail with polish, swipe along the thin edge of the nail to form a ‘cap’ which adds strength to your manicure.

Official CND Shellac French Manicure Video

Gel Or Shellac Manicure - Great Tips On The French Tip

The French manicure’s trademark is a white tip at the end of each nail. This is also called a ‘smile line’ in manicure-ese. Getting a manicure perfect French tip can take practice, but luckily gel and Shellac polishes give your nails lots of working time; the polish remains pliable until it is cured, so you have time to tweak things.

To get the white tip, sweep the polish brush in parallel motion along the tip of the nail - starting at one side and working towards center, then repeating on the other side. Alternately, you can place the brush perpendicular to the nail and take gentle strokes to achieve the tip.

Gelish French Manicure: How To Video

Red Carpet Manicure Pro Starter Kit: Polish & Dryer

Gel Or Shellac French Manicure: Professional Touch-Up Trick

Whichever method you find easiest, don’t worry if the results aren’t perfect! Even skilled manicurists rely on this touch-up trick: use a small brush dipped in 100% acetone, and gently clean up the edge of your tips until they look right. Remember, your coat of sheer color won’t be affected by this, since you’re using either Shellac or gel nail polish; so take the time you need.

Practice makes perfect, and you’ll soon find this step of your manicure goes easily; but if you are frustrated by this process, try a tip guide - a tiny white sticker that you adhere to each nail to ‘mask off’ the tip for painting. Make sure to smooth each guide firmly onto the nail especially at the sides, where polish might leak underneath. This can be a great way to achieve an easy French manicure smile line on your nails and it won’t have any adverse effect on gel or Shellac nail polish.


Give Your Gel & Shellac French Manicure A Trendy Twist

Change up your French manicure by using different colors! It’s trendy nowadays to experiment with different colors of nail polish to get a different, yet still very French, manicure look. All gel and Shellac lines offer a wide variety of colors; you can try black with white tips, white with black tips, or sheer with brightly colored or glittered tips, plus countless other variations on the theme. Feel free to have fun!

Yes You Can Get A Salon Quality French Manicure At Home With Gel & CND Shellac Nail Polish

I hope this has demystified the process of getting a perfect French manicure at home, using your gel or Shellac nail polish. These unique polishes actually make this style of mani easier than ever before, and with a little practice, you’ll soon be rocking your French tips for weeks on end. Enjoy, and let me know how you get on!

At Home French Manicure Poll

What type of French manicure would you try?

See results


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    • manicuregirl profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from Canada

      Hi Toya! Try it sometime - you never know, with practice you might surprise yourself! But, having them done at a salon is always a nice treat too. Thanks for your comment!

    • listsnthings profile image

      Anna Christie 

      2 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      I would like to do my own French manicure at home but I don't think it would look as good as having them done at a nail salon


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