French manicures made easy

The French Manicure is a natural, yet very stylish look, suitable for all occasions – day and night, and casual through to dressy. With a classic French Manicure you can be confident your beautiful white tipped nails will complement your outfit and the setting. French Manicures are really not that difficult - our simple step by step French Manicure guide shows you how.

French Manicure Step 1: Remove old polish

Using a cotton ball and nail polish remover remove all traces of existing nail polish. There are 2 main types of nail polish remover to choose from. Acetone nail polish removers take off the nail polish quickly but can dehydrate your cuticles. You might want to use Acetone nail polish removers if you are trying to remove bold, deep or bright shades of nail polish. Non-acetone nail polish removers take longer to remove nail polish but do not dry out the nail and cuticle. Remember, if you have artificial nails, you should only use non-acetone nail polish remover.

French Manicure Step 2: File your nails

Rule #1...only file in one direction. You'll weaken the nails if you saw back and forth. Starting from the back of the nail and going to the center, make long, sweeping strokes. Avoid metal files; they are brutal on your nails.

French Manicure Step 3: Soak your hands

Fill a large bowl with soapy water and dunk your hands in it for several minutes. This helps to soften your cuticles and clean the nails. Dry your hands when done, using a paper towel, not a cotton towel. Cotton towels may leave behind fuzzies that will show up in the nail polish.

French Manicure Step 4: Fix up your cuticles

Use a cuticle pusher to push back your cuticles. Then use the pointy end to remove any remaining dirt from under your nails.

Now you nails have been prepared you are ready to apply your French Manicure. To complete your French Manicure you will need: white French Manicure nail polish, neutral (pink or beige) coloured French Manicure Nail Polish and French Manicure guide strips. To make purchasing the nail polishes and guides simple consider a French Manicure kit that offers everything in one convenient box.

French Manicure tip: Use guide strips, they make the French Manicure process so much easier.

You should also have handy your normal nail polish base coat and top coat

French Manicure Step 5: Apply a Base Coat

Base coat helps prevent nails from staining, strengthens the nails and also allows for a smoother application of nail polish. Your nail secretes oil; base coat also helps the nail polish to adhere to your nail better. Apply a thin, not thick coat. A thick coat will just cause nail polish to smudge or take an extremely long time to dry. Make sure the clear base coat is COMPLETELY dry before applying nail polish.

French Manicure Step 6: Apply the white tip

Peel off a French Manicure guide strip and apply it below the tip of the nail, following its natural curve. The guide strip will allow you to paint an even white tip with ease and precision. Press the French Manicure guide strips down firmly to smooth out any ripples. Repeat on all nails.

Apply the white nail polish to the nail tips extending the brush stroke from the top of the guide to the end of the nail. Take care not to get any white polish on the body of the nail below the guide. Allow the white polish to dry completely.

French Manicure Tip: Actually try to get a little of the white nail polish on your skin. This will ensure your white tip is not too thick at the edges which can make French Manicures look unnatural. The extra polish can be easily cleaned up once dry.

A second coat of white nail polish may be desirable, depending on the thickness and opaqueness of the nail polish. Allow the nail polish to dry completely between coats.

Once the tips are dry remove all the guides. Dissolve any leftover adhesive by rubbing it gently with a cotton bud dipped in nail polish remover. Be careful not to get any nail polish remover on the white tips.

French Manicure Step 7: Apply the neutral nail polish

Apply the neutral nail polish (pink or beige) over entire nail, this seals the whitened tip and completes the look.

Before applying the nail polish roll the bottle of nail polish, never shake it. Shaking causes air bubbles to form that will stand out when you apply the nail polish.

Rest your hand on a firm surface so your nails remain steady while being polished. To apply the nail polish place the brush an eighth of an inch away from the cuticle - gentle pressure on the bristles will distribute the nail polish outward without bleeding over your cuticle. The first stroke should start from the center of your nail's base and be taken out to the tip. Then make two more even strokes. One on each side. Apply the nail polish thinly to prevent smudging then wait five minutes for this coat to dry.

Start with the pinky of one hand and work your way to the index finger. Repeat on the other hand. Do your thumbs last; they're more instrumental than your other fingers in giving yourself a manicure.

French Manicure Step 8: Apply a second coat of neutral nail polish

After you are sure the first coat is dry repeat step 7. Again apply the nail polish thinly to prevent smudging. When you take time between coats it will give your nails a more even finish.

French Manicure Tip: A French Manicure is best performed on a lazy morning or evening when no other pressing errands or jobs will get in the way. After painting your nails, avoid doing things with your hands while they dry.

French Manicure Tip: The key to all manicures is to wait for each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next coat otherwise you are sure to end up with smudges.

French Manicure Tip: If you are feeling adventurous make your own colour combinations. Instead of white and neutral polishes you could try red with gold tips or white with silver tips or any combination you like.

French Manicure Step 9: Apply a top coat

The top coat is what protects your nail polish. Before you apply the top coat, touch your nails and make sure they are completely dry. A top coat gives nails an added extra shine and looks more professional. A top coat will also help to prevent nail polish chipping and help your nail polish to last much longer. Apply top coat every few days for extra protection and shine.

French Manicure Step 10: Touch ups

Almost everyone gets some nail polish on their fingers instead of their nails. The best way to clean up around the nail is by using a cotton bud. Dip the cotton bud in nail polish remover and gently rub around the nail to clean up any unwanted nail polish. It's best to wait to do this after your top coat is COMPLETELY dry.

Enjoy your stylish French Manicure.