The french manicure is a timeless, classic look that has been popular with women of all ages for…well, ages! It is a great, natural look that is suitable for just about any occasion, whether being work-appropriate, everyday casual, or special occasion. Many women spend countless dollars and hours at nail salons each week just to get this, and many other looks. However, most salons charge extra for french manicures, on top of the price of just a regular manicure, believe me, all those trips can add up! So if you’re on a budget, or just pressed for time, or maybe you just really enjoy the act of painting your own nails, then you will really love this DIY french mani tutorial!
The first and most important step is to start with clean, prepped nails. Ensuring that your nails are clean and prepped is so important, because you are essentially creating your fresh, clean, blank canvas with which to work on! If there is any oil, dirt, dead skin, or nail polish residue left on your nails, the polish will not adhere properly and you will be left with an uneven looking manicure. Also, because a french manicure is a very sheer, natural look, a lot of your natural nail will be visible, and you don’t want to leave behind any dirty spots!
Start by removing any remaining nail polish from your nails with some nail polish remover on a cotton ball or pad. Make sure not to leave any behind!
Next, if you have any rough/uneven edges, file your nails into your preferred shape using a nail file or an emery board. Swipe in one direction working from the outside of the nail towards the middle, until you have your desired shape.
If you have any dead cuticle skin, you can use a cuticle remover gel to help soften them, and then use a cuticle pushing tool or a wooden orange stick to gently push back the dead skin around your cuticles. Also, if you have any dirt or debris underneath your nails, use a wooden stick to dig underneath the tip of the nail and remove it.
Apply a layer of your favourite base coat. A base coat is extremely important, because it ensures that your manicure will last MUCH longer, and it creates a smooth, even surface that the polish will spread much more evenly on. Many base coats also have many nail strengthening/nourishing benefits as well.
Tip: Because the french manicure is a very sheer, natural look, I like to double up on the base coat to ensure that the polish goes on evenly and streak-free!
Now, we are ready to create the tips! I have three methods I like to use and find easiest/most foolproof. Use whichever you would like. They are as follows:
1. The Freehand Method
This is probably the most complicated method of the three (particularly on your “other hand”) because it essentially requires you to just comletely freehand the white tips. But with practice, you can really get it down to an art quite easily. Simply take your white nail polish and swipe HORIZONTALLY across the tip of your nail, going straight, or adding a slight curve, depending on which look you prefer on your nails. If you need to you can do this in 2 strokes, going from the edge of your nail to the middle, and then starting a new stroke on the other edge and meeting the first stroke in the middle of the nail, blending the lines together as needed. This is a lot simpler than trying to create one, smooth stroke all the way across the nail.
2. The Brush-off Method
This method is a lot simpler than the last, because you are allowed to make as much mess as you want upfront, however it requires a few more supplies. To begin, take your white nail polish, and paint the top third of your nail, using however many coats it takes to be completely opaque (hopefully just one, but two if needed).
Next, take a small makeup or paint brush, dipped in nail polish remover (or if you have it, pure acetone), and carefully begin cleaning away the excess white polish, until you have a nicely shaped white tip. Once again, you can create any shaped look you like in this way. However, you will need to re-apply your basecoat after using this method.
3. The Barrier Method
The third and final method I sometimes use requires the use of these nail tip barriers. They are a peel and stick-on paper barrier which acts as a guide to paint on a french tip. I picked up a pack of 100 from Shoppers Drug Mart (my local drug store) for a couple dollars. Simply apply the stick-on guides just below the tips of your nails (or wherever you would like your white tips to begin), and apply the white polish. Allow it to try to a slightly tacky finish before peeling away the guides. Perfect, smooth, professional-looking tips!
Once the french tips have dried, apply a sheer pink or nude polish to the entire nail and allow to dry. Seal everything in with a top coat (I like fast-drying top coats because then I can still go do things!), and voila! You’re done! You have your beautiful, salon-quality french manicure that you did all by yourself!
You can use these methods to create “french manicures” in many different colours and styles! You can even try adding glitter tips for an extra-glamorous looking effect!
Did you find this tutorial useful? Let me know! Also, be sure to let me know some of your favourite nail/nail art tips, or tweet me a picture of your latest mani! I’d love to hear and see your results!