1. Remove your old nail polish. Dip a cotton swab into some nail polish remover and remove all your old nail polish, even if it is clear. Be sure to remove traces of polish from all the corners and cracks since you will be able to see other colours through the pale French manicure polish. If you are wearing acrylics and wish to do the French manicure on top, use appropriate polish remover and do not let it soak into your nails for too long. Note that acetone nail polish remover can dry and damage your nails, so you may want to choose a remover that does not contain this chemical.
  • French manicures look more striking with longer nails, so you don’t want to trim them too close to your fingertips. Start by trimming your nails to the desired length. Make sure all of them are even. Use nail clippers to trim uneven spots and make sure all your nails are the same length. If you want to apply acrylic nails, you can trim them down to your fingertips first. After your nails are trimmed, apply the acrylic glue and nails according to the instructions on the package.
  • File and buff your nails. Use a nail file to finish shaping your nails so that they each have a smooth, crescent-shaped edge. You can file your nails into a square or round shape, depending on your preference. Use a nail buffer to buff the surface of your nails. When you file your nails, don’t push down, as this can damage them. You want to gently drag the file across your nails.
  • Soak your nails. Place your hands in a warm bowl of water, whole milk or olive oil. This softens your cuticles and makes them easier to push back. Soak for about three minutes, then dry your hands with a towel.
  • Push back your cuticles. Use an orange stick or cuticle pusher to push your cuticles back. Do not trim your cuticles; this leaves your nail matrix (the area your nails grow from) open to infection and can cause deformities on your nails like ridges or discoloration. You may also massage some cuticle oil into your nails at this time. After applying cuticle oil, you could put a few drops of rubbing alcohol on your nails. Make sure not to put on too much or it can cause your nails to turn brittle.
  • Apply the base coat. The base coat of a French manicure is usually pale pink, cream, or clear. Start by painting a stripe down the centre of your first nail, then two more stripes on either side. Paint from the cuticle to the tip, with the brush angled forward. Fill in the entire nail using smooth, even strokes. Continue painting the base coat on each nail of both hands. You can buy French manicure kits that come with a classic base coat colour, a tip colour, and other equipment you can use to create a perfect manicure. If you want to stray from the classic French manicure, choose a base colour that is not pink or cream. You could go with red, purple, blue, green, or any other colour you like. For the tips, you can use white nail polish or another contrasting colour. Allow the base to dry thoroughly and apply a second coat. Make sure the base is completely dry before proceeding.
  • Paint your nail tips with white polish. Making sure your hand is steady, paint white crescents on your nail tips. The white polish should stop right where the whites of your nails stop. Allow the tips to completely dry, then apply another coat if you wish. If you have a French manicure kit, you can use the crescent-shaped nail guides to make sure your tip paint goes on neatly. You can also create your own nail guides by cutting them out of painter’s tape. Using other kinds of tape might ruin the base coat, so stick to either painter’s tape or the nail guides that come in a kit. Use white nail polish to paint a tip on the nails. Then use a nail polish remover pen to carefully touch up or shape the area. If you do not have a pen you could also use a Q-tip.
  • Add a clear topcoat to protect the look of your freshly painted nails. Using a topcoat will help the manicure last longer, too.


Use scotch tape. If you are not so great at painting a straight line, you can make your job a bit easier by using scotch tape. Once your nails are completely ready and are just missing the white tips, put a strip of scotch tape across the top of each of your nails. The tape will block off most of your nail, leaving just a small strip at the end exposed. Paint this with your white polish; if you make a mistake, it will not matter since it will just get on the scotch tape instead. When your nails are dry, peel off the scotch tape to reveal your finished manicure.