French Manicure

Usually involving a pale translucent pink nail polish base and a pure opaque white to the tips, the french manicure is the most commonly requested at nail salons everywhere. While there are many different variations of the traditional french manicure, one thing remains the same, that thin strip at the tip. Like so many who like to sit back, relax and get pampered however, in reality, many don’t have the time to schedule an appointment or even the money to pay to get their nails done. Here is a simple step by step French Manicure guide in twelve steps to gain that classic, elegant look.

Here’s what this will help you with:

1. Tools you need to perfect that DIY French Manicure
2. A step by step guide
3. Different French Manicure kits you can buy
4. A creative approach to the classic French tips
5. Idea of colour manicure

French Manicure

1. What you need

French Manicure-what you need

– White Nail Polish
– Sheer Pink or Beige Nail Polish
– Clear Nail Polish
– Cuticle Oil
– Hand Cream
– Nail Guides
– Nail Polish Remover
– Cotton Pads
– Orange Stick (Wooden Stick) or Cuticle Pusher
– Cuticle Cutter or a Small Scissors
– Nail Clippers
– Nail File
– Nail Buffer
– Small Brush (any old makeup/paint brush)

2. French Manicure Steps

French Manicure Steps

1. Prep
Prep your nails by removing all of your old nail polish, even if it’s clear. Be sure to remove all traces from the corners and cracks since the base colour for the classic French manicure is sheer pink.

French manicure steps 1-prep

Note: If you have acrylic extensions on, remember to use an appropriate polish remover and don’t let it soak in for too long.

2. Trim
Start by trimming your nails to the desired length making sure they’re all even. French manicures look more beautiful with longer nails, remember, you don’t want to trim them too close to your fingertips. French manicure steps 2-Trim

Use a nail clipper to trim any uneven spots and always check to make sure they’re all the same length.

3. Shape

Figure out the type of shape you’d like either rounded or squares. Use a nail file to finish shaping your nails so that they each have a smooth edge.

French manicure steps 3- Shape

4. Soak
If you really want to re-create that spa experience at home, dip your hands in a bowl of warm water or whole milk and let them soak for a minute or two then dry your hands with a towel. This softens your cuticles and prepares them for the next step.

French manicure steps 4-Soak

5. Clean
Gently push your cuticles back with a metal cuticle pusher or an orange stick. Clip off any hangnails and dead skin with a cuticle cutter or small nail scissors. Use the opposite end of the cuticle pusher or orange stick to remove any dirt and grime from underneath your nails.

French Manicure Steps-clean

6. Buff
Before applying your first coat of polish, buff the surface of your nails to prepare them for your nail polish.

French manicure steps 6-buff

7. Massage 

Massage cuticle oil into your nails to moisturize before putting a few drops of rubbing alcohol on your nails. Make sure to not put too much rubbing alcohol as this will make your nails turn brittle.

French manicure steps 7-massage

8. Base
Start by painting a thin layer of sheer pink or beige and let them dry for a couple of minutes. Paint from the cuticle to the tip with the brush angled forward. Remember to fill the entire nail using smooth, even strokes. For gel nails, cure them under the LED light for no longer than 45 seconds. Repeat this step with a second coat before moving on.

9. Nail guides
Nail guides are a perfect way to snag that perfect mess free french tip. Place the nail guides close to the tip of the finger and attach them evenly on to each nail. Other alternatives include magic tape, which can be easily bought in any stationery store and cut into crescent shapes.  If you don’t have stickers, don’t despair – you’ll still get a good result working freehand.

10. Tip
With steady hands, lightly brush the white nail polish onto the tip of your nails. The white nail polish should stop right at the tip of your finger or where the whites of your nails stop. Let the polish dry completely and repeat this step with a second coat if you wish. To clean up any messes or reshape the area, a nail polish pen or a Q-tip dipped in a little bit of nail polish remover works perfect.

Tip: For a square look, paint a straight line across and for a more rounded effect, simply follow the curve of the natural nail from corner to corner.

11. Top Coat
Once your tips are completely dry, carefully remove the guides and apply an even layer of clear nail polish as the top coat. Using a top coat not only protects your freshly painted nails but also help your manicure last longer.

French manicure steps 11-top coat

12. Moisturize
Brush on a layer of cuticle oil on the edges of your nails before moisturising your hands. This helps keep your hands from drying while the oil protect the polish as it dries. Now you’re ready to relax and let your nail dry thoroughly before attempting to do anything with your hands. Remember, impatience will only result in scratches and smudges on your freshly done manicure.

3. French Manicure Kits

It may be hard to get that perfect French tip at the beginning but with the help of French Manicure kits, even beginners can get that perfect French Manicure. A basic kit usually includes both the base and white polish while more elaborate kits include nail guides, a bottle of clear nail polish and other essentials.French Manicure KitsWith the growing trend of gel manicures due to its longer life span and short waiting time, many nail polish brands have created special Gel French Manicure kits that offer the full gel manicure experience. A basic kit usually includes both the base and white gel polish along with a clear gel polish while more elaborate kits include the UV lamp, gel primer and other essentials. Above are 5 different French Manicure kits ranging from a basic kit retailing  to a full gel French Manicure kit retailing.

And while French Manicure kits can be a convenient and an easy way to get that perfect French tip, many of these kits may also limit you in terms of colour because the whites may be too white while the pinks may be too pink and finding a kit that offers colours that compliment your skin tone is definitely a challenge.

Tip: To ensure you get the right shades of white and pink you want, buy the colors you like separately and remember, the sheerer the polish, the less room you have for making mistakes.

4. French Manicure Colour

French Manicure

While the soft white and muted pinks are the ideal go-to shades for that signature French manicure, there are many ways you can spice up those French tips for any occasion.

If you’re not a fan of pink, making small changes in the base with subtle nudes and pearls will create the same effect. Lighter shades of beige and pink give off a groomed but contemporary finish while sweeter shades of pink add a more feminine touch. Alternatively, use a dark nail polish such as black instead for those white tips to create contrast. Stronger colours such as navy or maroon gives this classic look a glamorous and strong look.  Nail stickers can be used to add fun into this classic look. They are also a good way to hide any unevenness and slip ups you can’t clean up.

Get creative by using a brighter shade of pink and with a sponge dab from the tip to create a gradient. Cover up any unevenness with a coat of glitter polish in the same shade starting from the tip. This also adds a touch of femininity and subtle fun into that classic french manicure.

You can even steer clear of the classic white tips and sheer pink altogether and use a brighter shade as your base and a contrasting colour for your those french tips.

Be it the simple classic modern french manicure or a creative colourful twist on it, remember even if you do find DIY French manicures difficult at first, practice makes perfect and pretty soon you’ll be on your way to achieving a salon perfect French manicure.

5. French Manicure Bicolour

french manicure bicolor


What is your favourite style of French tip? The classic or a creative twist?