Nail Art 101 – French Mani

french mani 101

Some people may disagree with me calling a French Mani nail art… But in my opinion, it is the first step to start experimenting with something more than simply painting your nails with just one colour.

  The origin of the French Manicure is a little vague, but most of the online articles that I found attribute it to Jeff Pink — the creator of Orly.

  He came up with this white-tip-and-natural-base look in the 70’s as a versatile style that would work on Hollywood movie sets, where actresses faced the nuisance of having to change their nail colour constantly to match each wardrobe change.

  He later took what was originally dubbed the ‘natural nail look’ to the runways of France, which in turn grew its popularity back in the USA. And since most of us non-Europeans equate French women with simplistic and chic style, it became the style for any woman in search for a classic, classy, neutral nail.

 Back in the day, the white tip for a French Mani had to be painted on using only a free-handed technique, which required a lot of practice and a very steady hand. And that also usually meant a trip to the salon for most of us…

Nowadays however, we are blessed with this nifty little tool called French Tip Guides:


These are slightly curved stickers that you put on your tips, just above the line where you want your white tip to go up to. And then you simply paint the white onto your tips – and remove the guide – to leave you with a neatly curved edge to your white tip.

How to:

Step 1. – Paint on your favourite clear base coat and let it dry.

Step 2. – Paint on a coat of your preferred nude colour and let it dry completely.

Step3. – Neatly apply your French Tip Guides to your nail tips, with the bottom edge of the guide just above where you want your white tip to go up to.

Step 4. – Paint on the French white polish on your tips, using the guides to keep it neat and precise.

Step 5. – Remove the French Tip Guides carefully, before the white polish dries.

Step 6. – After the tips are dry, finish up with your favourite clear top coat.

French tip guides can be found (in a couple of different brands), in Clicks, Dischem or selected pharmacies.

Or if you wear your nails in more of a square shape like I do, or you are in a pinch without any French Tip Guides, regular old scotch tape will also do the trick 😉 leaving you with more of a straight edge, rather than a curved one though.


And then of course, there is the Rolls-Royce of home French Mani kits, the SensatioNail™ Invincible Gel Polish French Manicure Tips by nailene®

They have a very informative tutorial and video on their UK website, on how to use this product, and it is definitely my favourite for a longer lasting French Manicure.


You can also try playing with a ‘Goth’ black tip, instead of the white – Or go for something a bit more colourful…


So that’s it from me for this week’s Nail Art 101 article!

Stay tuned for more, as I go through the most popular nail art techniques out there in a range of articles over the next couple of months.

And don’t forget to share your own French Mani creations and experiences here in the comment section! 😉 x

4 thoughts on “Nail Art 101 – French Mani

  1. Catherine Dream says:

    Uh, I had no idea it has only started in the 70s… Nice random fact! : )

    I personally don’t like French on me, but I did it once for breast cancer awareness month – pink and grey ; )

    I really like how french manis look on people with shorter nails actually.
    Great post!

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