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How to Do a French Manicure at Home:
Get a Professional Manicure Without the Nail Salon


The French manicure is often considered the most elegant thing you can do with your fingernails, since it combines perfect polish with a natural look that looks smooth and classy. If you're going for a job interview or just want perfect hands to show off a new ring, the French manicure is ideal. The French manicure can easily be done at home, with some patience and the right tools.
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Preparing Nails for a French Manicure

Any manicure starts with scrubbing your hands, filing your nails and caring for your cuticles. Use a diamond file instead of the cheaper metal ones: it's about a dollar more expensive, but it files much quicker and smoother. For a classic French manicure, your nails shouldn't be dragon-lady long, but should have a smooth, oval shape that's slightly elongated to make the most of the white nail tips. You're going to need:
 

Tools and Directions for an at Home French Manicure

A base coat in a subtle, neutral color like pale peach, nearly-not-there pink, or beige. The contrast comes with the white nail tips, which point up the hint of color in the base coat.

Nail Supplies You Need

  1. Nail File
  2. Neutral, Pink-Beige for the Base Coat
  3. White Nail Polish for the Tips
  4. French Nail Tip Guide Strips (available at drugstores)
  5. Clear Top Coat Nail Polish
After filing your nails and tending to your cuticles by softening them and pushing them back away from the half-moons, paint your entire nail with the base coat color and let it dry. If you have chronic problems with getting the nails on your second hand painted cleanly, you may want to start by putting a little petroleum jelly on the skin of your fingers around the nail. The petroleum jelly keeps the polish from sticking to your skin if you should slip up while painting, making for easy clean-up and a neater look overall.
 

Using French Manicure Stencil or Template Products

Once the base coat of polish is completely dry—never try to rush this step—put the nail tip guides on your fingernails. Apply the strip guide to the area where your actual finger ends. The white tip of your nail shouldn't comprise more than 20% of the overall fingernail when you're done. Make sure to place the guide strips on each finger so that the tips of your nails are the same length for each.

Once the guides are in place, you can brush white polish onto your fingernails. This is a time for especial care, so that you stay with the guides and get no white polish on the lower part of the nail. Don't remove the guides until the white polish is completely dry, or you'll ruin the tips.

Once the white tips are dry, remove the guides. If they leave any sticky residue behind, use rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball to take it off. Don't forget and use nail polish remover or you'll ruin your whole manicure!

Important Step for a Salon Quality Finish to Any Mani or Pedi

Finish your French manicure by painting the entire nail with the clear top coat of polish. This does two things: it helps your manicure stay fresh longer by protecting it, and it gives a shiny and unified gloss to each nail.

You can buy a manicure in a kit, great for the new DIY nail maven, because they come with designs, color options, style ideas, instructions and all the products you need for a manicure or pedicure. You can try the new manicure polish pen, buy fun stencils and templates or go for a natural look with a brand like Sephora, Opi or Sally Hansen. For professional looking fingers and toes, you don't need a history of salon work: you can get everything you need online or from your local drugstore. And for a quick version of the French look, you can buy a nail whitening pencil. Slide it under the edge of your nail to white the tip, et viola—instant (not as elegant, but very nice) manicure!

Review of Steps to Create the Perfect at Home French Manicure

  • Clean and push back cuticles (no cuticle cutting please!).

  • File names into a rounded, slightly enlongated shape.

  • Base coat nails is a subdued, natural color like pale peach. Let dry completely.

  • Apply the french nail tip guides from nail bed to where you actually finger ends. Leave no more than 20% of your nail showing. Tips of all nails should be the same,

  • Polish nauls with guides in place and take special care not get white polish under the guides.

  • Let nails dry completely, then carefully remove guides.

  • Polish a final coat of clear top coat to protect all the work you just did.

  • If this sounds like too much work, do it with a friend or visit your local nail salon for a relaxing manicure. French manicures normally cost between $20-$35.


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