Is there anything that can make you feel as effortlessly glamorous as a freshly painted set of classic French tip nails?
While this nail look appears simple, anyone who’s ever tried to do it at home knows it can be anything but. And that’s why Mamamia spoke to nail technician Kristine Unwin – to make sure the next time you want to try a French manicure at home, it turns out perfectly.
Listen: Should we let our young daughters get manicures?
Kristine, owner of Nailesthetic Melbourne, takes us through this step-by-step guide to how to do french tips at home. But first, make sure you have the following: nail file, a cuticle stick (if using) band-aids or sticky tape, nail polish in pale pink or beige (see below), nail polish in white and a bottle of topcoat.
Step 1: Preparation.
Kristine says it’s crucial to take the time to gently push back your cuticles. This will ensure your French manicure lasts longer, as the nail polish won’t lift from the base of your nail.
You could use a cuticle stick for this or if you don’t have one on hand, Kristine suggests using your thumb nail.
“You just need something that’s able to push back the cuticle without damaging the nail bed. If you’re finding that they’re really hard, soak them in some soft soapy water so they’re soft so you can push them back.”
“I’d just get a bit of a body scrub and do a scrub on your hands.”
Step 2: Shape your nails.
Next, shape your nails with a file, being careful to file only in one direction.
“If you’re going left, keep going left. Don’t see-saw – it will shave into the nail and break the fires of the nails,” Kristine says.
Step 3: The first coat.
If you want, apply a base coat to your nails (using a bottle of top coat nail polish is fine). Kristine says this coat protects your nails from discolouration but isn't necessary if you're short on time, as you're not using a dark colour.
After your base coat has had five minutes to dry, apply your natural-tone nail polish using as few strokes as possible. A good method is one stroke for the middle and one down each side.
A top tip for colour selection: While most people assume your first layer of a French manicure needs to be in baby pink, Kristine says, for some people, beige is a better choice.
"If you've got a really pink tone skin, you don't really want to be putting a pinky tone base on your skin - otherwise it will come up a really rosy pink."
"Use as little of strokes as possible, but don't always worry about your first coat. Do this quickly and always glide, don't push down on your nail. You're not painting a house," Kristine says.
"Don't apply nail polish thick. The thicker the coat is, the thicker it will take to dry."
You may need to apply one or two coats - allowing five minutes of drying time in between each coat.
Step 4. Applying the French tips.
This is, of course, the famously tricky part - but it needn't be, thanks to a clever hack.
Band-aids aren't just for covering cuts, depending on the brand, they're also perfectly shaped at the short-end to use as an outline for a slightly curved white layer. If the band-aids in your cupboard aren't suitable you could use sticky tape cut into a curved shape.
Making sure your pink layer is completely dry, apply the band-aid or sticky tape guide and paint white over to the tips of your nails. Carefully remove the tape while the polish is still wet.
Want some nail inspiration for a wedding or your next big event? Click through the gallery. (Post continues...)
Step 5. Top coat and patience.
After waiting for the French tips to dry, apply a top coat. Kristine says if you're in the chemist wondering whether you need to splash out on a bottle of top and base coats, don't. Just look for a top coat polish that can double as a base.
Allow your nails to completely dry. You could put your hands in front of a fan to speed this up slightly, but it could take 20-30 minutes. Once dry, apply a kitchen oil or baby oil to your cuticles.
"That's what I always tell my clients - you're not going to buy cuticle oil, just use vegetable oil or coconut oil and rub it on. It really moisturises the skin, but it also shines the nail up as well."
And voila. You should be ready to step out with the confidence of someone rocking shiny, perfect-looking French manicure.
Do you have any easy French manicure hacks?