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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  • angie

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

  • PopCosmo

    So glad we could help inspire you!

  • TanyaRae

    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.

  • PopCosmo

    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!

  • Anne

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

  • Sandy

    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!

  • susandhen

    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?

  • PopCosmo

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

  • PopCosmo

    YAY! post on Facebook!

  • PopCosmo

    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!

  • dkmdesign

    Love this idea and way cheaper!

  • Jenny

    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! :)

  • Jeannie Cerny

    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!

  • Diana

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

  • Julie

    Totally clever. Thanks.

  • Heide Tautphaeus-Rumble

    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.

  • 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.

  • cinmor

    Is there anything that would work good for toenails?

  • Tracee Licious

    What a great idea for a super quick mani!!

  • Katie Counts

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

  • Katie Counts
  • PopCosmo

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

  • Pattie

    Any tips on how to do your toes? hanks

  • kimberly

    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… :)

  • Dee

    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.

  • ssully

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

  • PopCosmo

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

  • Florence Cole Nead

    Love it!!!

  • tlee

    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.

  • Merm

    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

  • Alacia

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

  • PopCosmo

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

  • PopCosmo

    Fiji or Ballet Slippers!

  • 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

  • emily

    what shade of sinful collection is the neon yellow?

  • PopCosmo

    Thanks for stopping by! It’s Neon Melon.

  • R

    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?

  • PopCosmo

    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.

  • chrissy

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

  • Jdan

    What do you do with the thumb?

  • PopCosmo

    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!

  • Anonymous

    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.

  • PopCosmo

    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.

  • Christy

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

  • PopCosmo

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

  • Mimi

    Very clever

  • Meg

    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!

  • PopCosmo

    So welcome!

  • fabere

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

  • me and I

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

  • PopCosmo

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

  • Ari S

    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.

  • Claire

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

  • Cajun

    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.

  • Olivia Synan

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

  • suesuepix

    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.

  • PopCosmo

    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!

  • Beca Lynn

    Is it possible to do this with gelish?

  • admin

    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?

  • Tanya

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

  • Beth

    This is an awesome idea!!

  • PopCosmo

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

  • SLE

    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.

  • tammy

    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.

  • jessica

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

  • Piper Newton

    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!

  • Pip

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

    Easy Outfits by Pip

  • jewelsgiftcom

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

  • PopCosmo

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

  • Mia

    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!

  • Emily23

    what is the base coat color called?

  • PopCosmo

    Try Essie Fiji or Ballet Slippers!

  • shemurrrr

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