How to do a French Manicure… Effortlessly

Nothing beats a clean, crisp manicure (<–link for ombré mani), but they can get expensive at a salon. So here’s a fail proof way how to do a french manicure, as inspired by this gorgeous a Rue La La Tumblr post. Well, why not neon? Of course, the tips could be any color, but we wanted to funkify a plain-jane manicure and try something different. Our foolproof way how to do a french manicure is simple and so easy that you’ll be doing it for fun every day this summer. Well, maybe not every day, but we can imagine changing nail polish more often than we used to.

Our photos shows how to do a french manicure using paper hole reinforcements for a curved line, but we have also used blue painter’s tape for a straight line. It’s also great to use to extend a manicure. (<–link) Although many of you have said you had success with regular tape, our french manicure doesn’t end up as clear and crisp as we would like when we use regular tape. Since painter’s tape and paper reinforcements are so easily available, we suggest giving them a try! Here’s what we did .. . and we’d love to hear your tips too!

Easy French Manicure

How to do a French Manicure

Step 1: Apply a base coat and let dry. It’s important that it is completely dry before you proceed.
Step 2: Apply either blue painter’s tape or paper reinforcements to your nail.
Step 3: Paint a neon color on the tip, or whatever color you would like to use. Use 2 light coats for coverage. Thick coats are not advisable because it leaves a ridge (you can see one in our ring finger… oops!)
Step 4: Remove tape or reinforcement AFTER the polish has dried.
Step 5: Apply a clear coat and enjoy!

UPDATE: Check out our NEW French Manicure {<–click} to use manicure tape; and click —-> How to do an Easy French Manicure {Again} to find out how we use a common household item to create another clean line for french manicures! We can’t get enough :)


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  1. awesome idea! ive had these laying around for awhile with no use. thanks!

  2. So glad we could help inspire you!

  3. I don’t know how cheap these are, but from the photos, it seems as though cutting them in half wouldn’t effect how well they work, so you probably could use half as many each time. Also, when using regular tape, I’ve always removed it when it was still wet..Never seen a tape tutorial where you wait for it to dry(maybe that’s because I’ve always used tape for rays, etc?)..worth a try though.

  4. Great idea about cutting them in half – thanks for the suggestion! We tried removing them while wet (like with scotch tape) and the lines weren’t crisp, probably because of the thickness – they are more like stickers.
    A lot of people use scotch tape, but we had more luck with these and painters tape. We are going to keep trying with regular tape and try some other fun ideas!
    Send us a tutorial for your rays and we’ll post it!

  5. Just finished and they look amazing! Thanks for the great idea:)

  6. Oh…I have always wanted to get a french manicure..but never could afford it. Now I can do it myself! Thank you so much for the instructions!

  7. You can buy manicure stickers in the finger nail polish section. This kind makes it possible to make the line different depths. Is their any difference in those or using this kind?

  8. You are welcome – send us a picture or post on our Facebook wall!

  9. YAY! post on Facebook!

  10. We haven’t tried those, but it’s a good idea. We wanted to try using household items without buying something new. But I’m sure we’ll be tempted soon, perhaps with Chloe’s $10 Beauty series!

  11. Love this idea and way cheaper!

  12. You could also use the yard sale sticker dots. Dollar Tree sells those for a dollar and then if you cut those in half it is even cheaper. Nothing like stretching those dollars! :)

  13. Looks awesome and so easy. Clean and neat for short nails. Now I wish I could just get mine all the same length! They keep breaking :( Never have all the same length! Thanks for the tips! Pinned!

  14. Love it and so cheap. I agree u could cut them half and cheaper yet.

  15. Totally clever. Thanks.

  16. If you want to save $, you can take the same rounds off one hand and reuse them on the other hand. I think that’d be easier than cutting them in half.

  17. huckleberry :

    I also use electrical tape….have done it for about 11 years now and it works perfectly. It’s very bendable so that you can get a straight look or that curved look especially if you are working with very small nails it bends and stay were ever you put it.

  18. Is there anything that would work good for toenails?

  19. Tracee Licious :

    What a great idea for a super quick mani!!

  20. Found this on Pinterest and thought I’d share… seemed like another great idea!

  21. Painters tape should work well since the lines would be straighter.

  22. Any tips on how to do your toes? hanks

  23. Great idea, i usually buy the nail tips tape on e-bay, i get about 100 or so for a buck and they have different designs as well, but gonna try this when i run out of them… :)

  24. Great ideas, thanks for all the suggestions. I do my own nails at home and I find that the french manicure doesn’t last long. Any suggestions on how to keep the tips from chipping so fast. I put clear coat polish on them, but the next day they chip.

  25. love the base coat you used! i see it’s Essie, anyone know the name?

  26. It was either Fiji or Ballet Slippers… they are very close.

  27. Love it!!!

  28. You don’t have to cut each one in half, just run your scissors up the whole page and snip all the dots in a row at once. I used the store bought mani tape once. It didn’t stick too well.

  29. For all you saying you know know how expensive and stuff these are, they are like 2 dollars are your local CVS, RITE AID, or WALGREENS for a pack of like 50

  30. What is the name of the Essie brand base coat you used in this?! It is perfect!

  31. We are working on a story about how to extend a pedicure… should be cute!!! Check back soon :) and thanks for stopping by!

  32. Fiji or Ballet Slippers!

  33. Katherines Corner :

    How inspired, I mean brilliant! Using the reinforcements for your manicure.Thank you for linking to the Thursday Favorite Things Hop. I appreciate your bloggy friendship xo

  34. what shade of sinful collection is the neon yellow?

  35. Thanks for stopping by! It’s Neon Melon.

  36. The reinforcement circles always get too stuck to my nails and end up either leaving residue or pulling the polish off. How can I prevent this?

  37. First, make sure your base coat is completely dry before painting the tip. If it is still peeling your base coat, apply the sticker to your hand and peel it off a few times before placing it on your nail and smoothing it out. It will keep it from being too “tacky”. We like painter’s tape because it doesn’t leave a residue.

  38. use a little goo gone on top of your nails it should come right off with a wipe of a cloth!

  39. What do you do with the thumb?

  40. We were able to use the reinforcements and fill in the sides where it didn’t reach the end. If your nail is bigger, you could try electrical tape as another reader suggested below or what we call “garage sale stickers”. They are colorful dot stickers that are a little bit bigger than reinforcements. Let us know how those work!

  41. That’s the comment I was about to leave! I just did it worked great, actually a lot easier when they are cut in half.

  42. So glad it worked well! We’d love to see photos. Feel free to post them on our Facebook page or tag us on Pinterest.

  43. First french manicure ever!!! Great DIY, Thank you!!!

  44. Thanks for stopping by, and so glad you liked it!

  45. Very clever

  46. Thanks for posting this! I have been experimenting lately but could only get a straight line, and I didnt like the look. This is the perfect solution! Thanks!

  47. So welcome!

  48. what a great idea, love the little curves you get with this! thank you!

  49. my nails were too wide for this, did not work at all for my thumb.

  50. So sorry about that! Did you try the yard sale sticker dots?

  51. I’ve always used the ends of bandaids on my nails for a DIY french manicure. 1 bandaid for both hands. Not a bad idea though to use the sticker dots either.

  52. You made it look so easy and worth a try, thanks x

  53. I think I will use these for a Halloween mani. I will do a white nail, then apply the sticker. Then paint the circle blue. After drying I will drop a dot of black in the center or a black sequin.

  54. Love this idea! Grabbing my nail polish right now!(:

  55. I had my base coat on for a day or two, before I could get to the white….when I pulled the tape off, the polish below, came off in two places. I used Sally Hanson Complete Manicure “Shell We Dance” So I have to assume it is the strength of the adhesive on the tape OR how hard I pushed them to my very dry polish to make sure nothing bled under it. I also used “Nailene” tip strips.

  56. Hmm, not really sure! I don’t know what the tip strips are, but try the reinforcement labels and let us know how it works!

  57. Is it possible to do this with gelish?

  58. I don’t see why not — it should work just fine since it’s just a gel nail polish. Let us know how it works, ok?

  59. Agreed. 1/4″ reinforcement stickers are too small for my nails.

  60. This is an awesome idea!!

  61. Thanks so much! It’s made our manis easier… and saved a bit of $ and time!

  62. great idea…but not worth the hassle of having it leave residue and peel off unevenly and peeling polish with it. Bummer this mother of four finally had time to paint her nails and now I have to start over-but thanks to the comments I’ll try a bit of painters tape for other design ideas next time.

  63. I put white nail polish under the tips of my nails to get the French tip look, When it dries I clean up the excess and be careful not to wipe off the polish under your nails. It last about 3 weeks before redoing.

  64. Love it i didn’t know we could do our nails like this thanxs my nails look awesome .

  65. Just wondering what top coat you used. I like using the clear sally hansen “hard as nails” (not the advanced but the other) generally. I recently tried using the sally nail art pen (in white) and after I let it dry a while I applied said top coat and tiny little lines appeared in the white tip. I was bummed, but then I read how others apply another coat of the pink/nude then the top coat. I’ll be trying that when this wears down. I also bought some sale stickers but had the residue problem. Another time I’ll try using them again after getting some skin cells on there :D but I do really like the ease of the pen. It’s a shame it cracked like that. I assume it was shrinkage. Thank you for your tips!

  66. This is a fabulous post dear! I am so getting neon yellow polish this weekend! xx Pip

    Easy Outfits by Pip

  67. jewelsgiftcom :

    Very practical, recommend everyone to see, very beautiful ring:

  68. Oooh, love it – post a pic on Instagram or Twitter and tag us!! We’d love to see :)

  69. I have always just went to the salon. I go there once a week, but I guess that’s just another way to do it if you can’t afford salon mani-pedis!

  70. what is the base coat color called?

  71. Try Essie Fiji or Ballet Slippers!

  72. you can just buy acrylic tips and glue them on and applying several layers of top coat