French Manicure – Complete Guide with Tips!

French manicure is one of the most popular classic nail designs in the world. There is no country where it is unknown. It looks beautiful and it’s rather simple. It is a very good choice for many situations and holidays. It is perfect for both work and rest. You don’t need any serious art skills to use this design. In this article I will explain how to give yourself French and will reveal several important secrets and tips you probably don’t know about.


Let’s begin with some examples for inspiration. The manicure you see below was made by professionals and you will hardly be able to achieve similar result right now. But there is nothing impossible! If they could do it you will also be able. Just practice!

If you are not sure about your skill level follow our step-by-step guide below. This guide is pretty detailed and is written to explain most important things you should know. If you follow it attentively you will be able to give yourself very good manicure. All your friends will be surprised and will be asking you for an advice. Give them a link to this guide in this case :)


When someone says “French manicure” you automatically imagine plate pink nails with white tip. But beauty industry is developing rapidly. New manicure designs appear very fast. Nowadays you can find many types of “French”:

  • Classic is the oldest one. It was developed about 35 years ago and is still popular all over the globe. The base color is pale pink, cream, or clear. The tip is white.
  • Wedding looks almost the same but includes some wedding art that allows to complete the bride’s style.
  • Colorful looks like classic but the tip is not white. It is painted with any other color: red, black, yellow and so on. Such design looks fresh and attractive.
  • Stylized is any above type decorated with gems, stickers or art on the tip.
  • Millennium style is when the tip is decorated with shiny dust or any shiny material.
  • Twist French is a relatively new style when the tip is colored with several different colors.

As you see there are many different options to choose from. Some of them are relatively simple while others are more complicated. You can even combine different styles to create your own. You are limited by your imagination only.

French manicure classification / types


If you want to give yourself the best manicure you can you will definitely need special French manicure kit. It contains everything you need including polish and stickers. Such kits can be purchased from Amazon or any other online store.


First of all you need to prepare your hands. Wash them with soap and remove old polish with special remover. If you think that your nails are clean and you don’t need this you are wrong. Every woman spends a lot of time in the kitchen cooking or washing something. Moreover, you often use different creams and other beauty stuff that contains different oily chemicals. Polish remover will help to get rid of oils and cream. It will clear the surface and will prepare it for next steps.

The other important reason for removing remaining polish is because it may be visible through the pale French polish. This may screw up the whole manicure! So make sure you have removed everything from the surface.

There are some important tips you should follow:

  • Use polish remover carefully if you wear acrylic. There is special remover for such situation and you shouldn’t let it soak into the nails.
  • Some polish removers contain acetone. You should stay away from such products and avoid them. They can damage your nails fast. Hopefully there are removers without this chemical and it’s better to use them.

Nails’ Length

Many women ask about the best length of the nails for French. There is no exact answer. You should try everything yourself and find out the length you are comfortable with. My advice here is that you shouldn’t trim too close to fingertips. This manicure design looks better with longer nails. Make sure they all are the same length!

If the nails are short it’s still possible to do such manicure. The only problem will be is that it is more difficult to draw thinner white line on the tip. But anyway it’s possible and it will also look great.


After you have made your nails equal you need to shape them. Use manicure file to correct the shape and remove irregularities. The best shapes for this manicure design are round or square but you can experiment with others. You may find that your fingers look much better with other shapes.

Filing may seem very easy but many people do it wrong!!! Wrong technique may lead to splitting or other damages. Here are the most important secrets you should always keep in mind:

  • Never file wet nails. If they are wet this may damage, split or even break them. Wait until they are completely dry!
  • Don’t move the file back and forth!!! Move only in one direction. This is the most common and the most serious mistake you can make. Back and forth movements deal serious damage.
  • Don’t use rough side of the file if you nails are natural! Rough side is for artificial only!

Nails Filing Technique

The above tips are the most important but if you wish to know everything about how to file properly read our article: Nail Filing – You Are Doing It Wrong! I am sure you will find a lot of useful tips there. It’s a “must read”.  


Most of the women don’t pay enough attention to this but it’s really important to remove cuticles before applying polish. You need to soak your hands first. This will make dead skin and cuticles much softer and will allow you to remove it easier. Place your fingers in warm water. Some people also advice to use olive oil but I don’t like it. It’s rather difficult to get rid of the oil after soaking, especially if you soak hands right before applying polish. Water is much better and doesn’t require extra clearing.

After this take a special orange stick or cuticle pusher to push back cuticles. Remove dead skin with cuticle cutter or small scissors.

Some websites again advice to soften cuticle with oil but that’s not the best idea. You will have to clean the nails seriously with alcohol in order to remove it from the surface. But using too many chemicals is not the best idea. If you have problems with cuticle and dead skin it’s recommended to take care of them separately from your main manicure.

Applying polish

Now it’s time for applying polish. You should start with base color. For classic style it is pale pink, cream, or clear. If you don’t want to wear classic mani chose another color. You can use any: blue, black, green, yellow and so on.

The basic technique is to paint a stripe down the center of the nail. Then add two more stripes: on the left and one on the right. Fill the entire surface using smooth strokes. Repeat this action for every nail, one by one. Wait several minutes to let the polish dry. Don’t rush! Take time to make the first layer perfect.

Painting the Tip

One of the most important steps is applying white color to the tip. The line must be solid and even. It is what makes the manicure so cool.  There are many different ways to get such line:

  • Stickers or Tip Guides! This technique is one of the best and easiest. I recommend this technique for all women. All you need is to purchase special stickers and apply them to every finger. Then use white polish and let it dry. Remove the sticker with fast movement and you are done! The line will be perfect.
  • Tape. Some people prefer to use different tapes instead of stickers. I don’t recommend this because the tape is so sticky and it may harm your base coat.
  • Without stickers. Some women prefer to draw the line without any stencil. Just with the brush. This is a very difficult technique that requires skill. It’s very difficult to draw a straight even line with a polish brush only. There are several techniques: horizontal strokes (move the brush horizontally), vertical strokes (move brush vertically), finger roll (the brush stays on the same position while you just roll the finger ), using nail art pen (draw a thin line first that shows the contour and then cover remaining space with polish)
  • Rubber band. This technique is similar to using stickers. All you need is a wide runner band. Take it and place right on your finger nail, stretch it around the finger and hold remaining rubber with other fingers. Pull it tight! In my opinion this technique is not comfortable to use. You need to hold the band for every nail. It’s difficult and time consuming. It’s much easier to use stickers!

If you want to use gems, shiny powders or any other similar stuff place it on the nail right after you paint it. Don’t wait for too long.

Top Coat

After all previous steps are done and both coats are dry apply top coat to make the manicure more beautiful. You can use shiny or matte top coat. There is one thing to keep in mind: if you use small colorful beads or any other colorful plastic for decoration make sure that the top coat will not remove the color from them. Try to paint some beads on the paper and see how the color reacts.

That’s all! Now you have French manicure you were dreaming about. Don’t get upset if it doesn’t look like those on the pictures from internet. Practice and you will succeed. Don’t forget that Photoshop sometimes helps to make manicure picture look better :)

Check out our partner: Skin Signal - best ingredient analyzer on the web You can check ingredients of any beauty product to find out about its safety.