How to Get the Classic Elegance of a French Manicure at Home

Jul. 30, 2020
Always stylish and sophisticated, the French manicure is something you can do yourself at home in a few simple steps!
The French manicure is an iconic style for nails that has endured for well over 40 years. It was created by ORLY founder, Jeff Pink, who designed a nail look for a film director to save time for prepping screen actresses in conjunction with their costume changes. Back then, the style was a money-saver for the film industry. But once it hit the red carpet in Paris, Pink came up with calling it ‘French,’ a perfect name for such an effortlessly posh style. 
While most women have had a French manicure done at the salon, the technique isn’t as mystifying as it appears. In fact, it’s quite easy to do it yourself right at home in only a few easy steps. If you’ve ever painted your nails before, it’s not much different. 
7 Steps to a French Manicure at Home


Ready to impress with a professional-looking French manicure? If you can’t afford to get it done professionally or simply can’t get an appointment in time, gather the essentials and do it yourself!
What you’ll need:
  • Nail polish remover
  • Cotton pads
  • Nail trimmer
  • Nail file
  • Nail guides or painters tape
  • White polish
  • Light colored polish
  • Bowl with water to soak fingers
1. Get rid of old nail polish
If you currently have any polish on your nails, take it away completely with nail polish remover. Acetone-based removers are best for darker shades or gels while non-acetone is best for everything else. 
2. Trim and shape your nails
Get your nails to your desired length by trimming them down. Then use your file to shape them. What shape looks best? Squoval-shaped nails are most flattering with a French manicure. They combine square and oval shapes for a more natural look. 
3. Let your cuticles luxuriate in cuticle oil
Experts say you should never cut your cuticles because you will leave them vulnerable to infections. However, it’s perfectly safe and healthy to douse them with a nourishing cuticle oil prior to pushing them back with an orange stick. Once they’re softened with the oil, it will be easy to do and give your nails that healthy look.
4. Exfoliate and moisturize
One of the most important elements of a good French manicure is having your hands look hydrated and healthy. Use a gentle exfoliant on your hands and rinse it away. Immediately after patting them dry, use a good hand cream and let it saturate deep into the layers of your skin. 
5. Begin with the first coat
Once your moisturizer has been absorbed and is no longer on top of your nails, take the nail shade you’ve chosen whether it’s light pink, nude, or some other color. Paint in long, steady strokes starting with the middle of the nail and then flanking it on each side. Repeat with a second layer after it dries a few minutes.
6. Work on the tips
After you’ve applied the base color, you can then work on adding the white tips. Traditionally, French manicures have a straight white strip across the top, but if you want to give the illusion your nails are longer, you should let the polish curve with your natural nail. 
Can’t keep to any kind of line? You can use nail guides that stick on like stickers. They often come in French manicure kits to make life easier. If you don’t have a kit though, you can use painters tape which won’t wreck that basecoat. When using any type of guide or tape though, make sure the basecoat is dry or else you’ll wind up with a smudgy mess.
7. Tidy it up
Once all is complete, you can peel up the strips and add a quick-dry topcoat to protect all your hard work. Then, use a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover to clean up any paint you got on your fingers. 


Nothing ties a look together better than a classic French manicure. It works well for the office as well as a night out or formal event. And since it’s been in style for well over 40 years with no end in sight, it’s an utterly timeless way to do your nails. 
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