How To Give Yourself a French Manicure

French manicures are a classic nail style that’s been around for ages. It highlights your nail growth and makes your hands look oh-so elegant.

Usually when you want a French manicure, you have to go to a salon and get it professionally done. Why? Because French manicures look hard. The white nail polish on the tips of your nails seems to be expertly applied.

But, did you know that you could do this yourself? It’s true. I’ve been doing my own French manicures for years. I’ve learned all sorts of tips, and I’m about to pass the knowledge on to you.

Follow these steps to get a great at-home French manicure.

Step 1: Gather Up Your Supplies

Here are the basic essentials you’ll need in order to give yourself a French manicure:

French Manicure - Setup

At bare minimum, you’ll need:

With some beauty practices, you can get away with using a less expensive, drugstore product. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to at-home French manicures. I went with OPI because they work really well and are used by the professionals. You can usually find each polish between $5 and $9. depending on where you go.

Step 2: Prepare Your Nails

Before you just go painting your nails willy-nilly, you need to prepare them first. Besides making sure they’re straight, you may also want to buff them out.

You can find nail buffers in drugstores and online. They don’t cost a lot and they go a long way to making your nails look good. They shine them up so the nail polish goes on in a smooth, glass-like finish.

This would be the time to push back your cuticles, if you’re so inclined. Personally, I like to leave mine alone. They’re there for a reason.

Also make sure that your nails are clean. Wash your hands and completely dry your nails before starting.

Super Nail Tip: French manicures are all about showing nail growth. That means your nails should be at least a quarter of an inch long before starting. If you’re a nail biter with bloody nubs instead of nails, this isn’t right for you.

Step 3: Use the Base Coat

Base coats give your nails a shiny surface for the rest of the polish to glide onto. Many brands also add vitamins to their base coats to help strengthen your nails.

French Manicure - Base Coat

Put this over all of your nails and let it dry completely before moving on.

Step 4: Paint the Tips

Up until now, this has all been easy. No doubt you’ve filed your nails before and used some simple clear polish.

But here’s where things can get tricky.

Pay close attention to this animation:

French Manciure - White Polish

As you can see, I come from the side of the nail and work my way across.

The thing you should most concentrate on when doing this is the line you’re creating. This is the white line that touches the pink part of your nail. You want it to be as even as possible. Don’t be afraid to go slowly.

A good trick to help with steadiness is to follow the natural growth line of your nail. This is where the pink part ends and the natural white part begins.

Super Nail Trick: When you’re creating the white line, go just under where extended nail growth starts. That way, your nails will still look good after a week of nail growth.

Once you’ve painted on the white nail polish and created your line on each nail, let it dry. It’s likely that the tips will have wonky parts where the polish wasn’t as thick. Now you can go back through and add more polish to the tips. Just make sure to avoid the line.

If you’re right handed, you’ll have trouble when it comes to painting the nails on that hand (and vice versa for lefties). Sure, it might look wrong, but practice makes perfect. Keep giving yourself French manicures and you’ll have an easier time doing your off hand.

Step 5: Top Coat

Now it’s time for the finishing touch. Top coat seals everything away and gives it a nice shine. It also helps to keep your nail polish chip-free.

French Manicure - Top Coat

Be sure to let your nails dry completely before doing any activity, like typing. So, give it ten minutes or so before commenting on this post. 😉

Step 6: Admire Your Handiwork

Tah dah! You’re done!

French Manicure - Done

Now, that wasn’t so bad, was it? While getting the white done right on your nails can be difficult at first, it will get easier over time.

Depending on the nail polish you used, it should last about a week. Once it starts chipping, it’ll look pretty bad, though. Then it’s time to take out the nail polish remover and start all over again!

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  1. wow, I can’t wait to try this. It looks like even I can do it. Thanks for the great tips.

  2. HI, Thanks That was helpfull but im just not steady enough in my hand!!!!!!!!

  3. Hi Jackie! It may help for you to rest your hands on a table or counter while you’re doing it. Both hands. This way you can keep them steadier. Also, this kind of thing comes with practice. You may want to give it a try anyway.

  4. What I do is cut out a piece of tape that curves and put it on the area I don’t want white nail polish to come into. Then I just paint the top and take off the tape for a perfect line. I think they sell special ones, but I just use stationary tape.

  5. sunny, that works great

  6. thnx for ur tips, and as it was very helpful, i would like to give and advice to you too. it would have been far better if you’d use a light color for eg: white for the wordings…..

  7. good and thank you so much

  8. err.
    When I do nails I usually apply a light pink color after putting on the base coat. Giving it a bit more color to add with the white.

  9. Yep, Keyim, that’s a valid way to do it. Others use a sort of beige color. I prefer clear, but anything works. It’s all about personal preference.

  10. Thank you for the tips! it’s really helpful for me! i’m not that good in doing my nails! but i really like french menicure. I don’t want to go out and let my nails done, because that would be very expencive. So this very helpfull! 🙂

  11. Wow! It looks gorgeous! Am gonna try it! French manicure always looks so sophisticated. Tried it myself a couple of times – big fail though;)

    Am gonna try again with your tips!:)

  12. Thank you your advice, I just tried it and it’s ok (although a little wonky lol) but I’ll keep trying 🙂

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