How to Do a French Manicure

Rebecca Wiseman
French Manicure

The classic French manicure is a popular nail style that is quite easy to do at home. It is the perfect neutral nail, and can be casual or dressy. Here's how to get the look.

What You Will Need

One of the nice things about this nail style is that you don't need any special tools or supplies to create it yourself. To do a French manicure, you will need:

The Perfect Smile Line

Use a steady hand as you learn how to form the white tips of a French manicure. To achieve the perfect smile line (where the white tip meets the pink), follow these simple instructions. The process is the same regardless of the shape of your nails. Use the quick drying manicure spray to speed the drying time after each coat of polish.

  1. After applying one coat of the clear base coat, apply one coat of the sheer nude pink nail polish. Paint all nails with the pink polish and use the quick dry spray before starting the white polish to ensure that the polish will not smear and streak.
  2. Using the white creme nail polish, wipe one side of the brush off and any excess that may drip. Place the brush on one side of the nail tip so that the brush fans out slightly. Push the brush up to where you can see the quick of the nail (where the nail bed ends) and drag the brush down to the edge.
    Starting the white tip and smile line
  3. Repeat this on the opposite side of the nail tip.
    Opposite side of smile line
  4. For the center of the tip, push the brush up so that it joins each side and drag the brush down to the edge.
    Center of smile line
  5. If there are small dips in the smile line where the sides meet the center, repeat the process at those spots to even them out.
  6. Use the quick dry manicure spray now on the white polish.
  7. Repeat this process with the white polish on all nails before applying the top coat.
  8. When the white polish is dry, apply the top coat. Use the quick drying manicure spray after the top coat to speed overall drying time.
    Finishing with top coat

The white nail polish can still be dinged or streaked at this point if you get up now to do something. To ensure they are dry, sit back and relax for five or ten minutes. There's nothing worse than having to redo your nails because you were in a hurry. If you don't have time to wait, run each finger under cold water for a count of at least 30 per finger and let them air dry.

Ready to Go Anywhere

A French manicure will go with any color, any outfit, and any season. It can be jazzed up with rhinestones, nail stickers, or glitter. If you want a different look, try using a color polish instead of the white polish. If the bright white is too much for your taste, try an American manicure which uses off-white for the tips.

How to Do a French Manicure