The new-wave French manicure that you can do at home

The humble French manicure is back on the style radar – here’s how to update the look in 2020.

The French manicure has taken somewhat of a backseat to other nail colour and embellishment trends in recent years.

Back in its ’90s-to-early 2000s heyday, its pairing with chunky square shapes and thick white stripes also meant it was unfairly guilty by association of being ostentatious.

Australian manicurist Skye McIntyre admits she never thought the style would reach its previous popular heights – until now.

“Here we are in 2020 and the French manicure is back, but with an upgraded twist,” she says.

How the French manicure has modernised

The updated French manicure has some notable differences to previous incarnations, which Skye has breathed new life into the look.

“Overall, it’s a softer approach,” explains Skye. “For instance, the white tip line is now ultra-fine and arched to resemble and flatter the natural nail shape.”

Adding a graduated colour effect to the nails, known as a “natural ombré French”, is also popular.

Skye says this detail is highly flattering and serves to override the manicures formerly “dated” appearance.

Bold French manicure options

A French manicure doesn’t have to come at the cost of other fun nail trends. Skye says clients are increasingly taking a mix-and-match approach to their French manicure by requesting interesting colours or application techniques.

“The ‘double French’ is highly popular, which is where you add a thin line at both the top and bottom of the nail,” Skye explains.

“Holographic French ombré tips are also gorgeous. Colourful French manicures are also on trend, or a glitter fade looks gorgeous on a translucent base.

“But and my favourite is the metallic French manicure, where the tips are adorned in a metal shade like silver, gold, copper or rose gold.”

DIY basic French manicure: How to get the look at home

Step 1: Dry manicure

  • Use a polish remover to thoroughly cleanse the nail bed before shaping the edge of the nail using a soft grit nail file.
  • Next, gently lift and loosen the cuticles with a cuticle pusher.
  • Then use a manicure nipper to carefully remove any loosened cuticle, skin or hangnails – but never cut living tissue as it can lead to infection.

Step 2: Add polish

  • Apply a base coat to protect the nail bed and then add two thin layers of your chosen base colour. (In a classic French manicure, this would be a pink or nude.)
  • After drying, take your chosen tip colour (typically a white shade) and apply to the nail tip in an arched smile line shape.

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Beautiful nudes for Rachel.

A post shared by Skye McIntyre Nails & Tanning (@skyemcintyre) on

Step 3: Clean up and maintenance

  • Use a cotton tip soaked in remover to clean up any stray polish and finish with a top coat.
  • In the following days, liberally apply a cuticle oil to nourish the nails and protect the polish.

Written by Sharon Hunt.