Disclaimer: I’ve never, ever written a tutorial for anything, ever. I don’t claim this to be the best way to go about a French manicure, or even the correct method. This is just what I did/used. Three times this week.
To start with, I gathered my supplies.
I used, clockwise from upper left:
1. Nail Polish and top coat. Your favourites/whatever’s on hand
2. Nail polish remover. You don’t make mistakes? Pffft.
4. French manicure blocking tape-strip-dealie-things
5. Nail file
Start with clean, polish-free nails. Do a little filing/shaping if necessary. My finger tips always feel dry and flaky after doing this, so I apply a bit of lotion. Today I used l’Occitane’s Fleurs de Cherises. It feels so light and feminine and summery (show-off/side-note: I bought it at l’Occitane in Paris right on the Seine, on a beautiful, sunny June day a few years ago. That may be why it feels like a perfect summer compliment to me).
Once your hands are clean and soft and sufficiently french-smelling, apply the manicure tape. You can buy these pretty much anywhere: Sally’s, Shopper’s Drug Mart, Zellers, etc. Some people use masking tape, but I like these strips because they’re pre-cut and shaped exactly the way they should for the task at hand.
Placement is a tricky thing and, like most things, I just eyeball it. Play around with it for a few manicures, see exactly where you like it. Anything above the white tape is going to have nail polish on it. I like to place the tape just below the finger “line” of my nails: where the nail extends from the nail bed. Once you’ve decided where the tape is going, press down hard and use your nail on either side to really get it to stick. Any gaps and nail polish is going to get in there, taking away the smooth lined French manicurey goodness.
Do one hand at a time. All taped up? Get painting.
Paint all of the nail above the tape. It’s worth mentioning that you should have a bit of nail to work with. My nails aren’t long at all, and this works fine. But if they’re chewed halfway down the nail bed, I can’t help you.
It’s okay if some polish gets on the tape – that’s what it’s there for! In the corners, to ensure you get full coverage, you may need to “dot” on the polish, instead of using smooth brush strokes.
Paint all the nails on one hand and let it dry completely before removing the tape. I’m serious – they have to be completely dry before you take off the tape or you’ll run the risk of smudging the line. And you don’t want that, do you?
You can take time at this point to remove any nail polish spillage from your fingers, lower part of your nails, your knee, the table – what? I can’t be the only one…
Once it’s dry, apply a layer of topcoat. I really like Rimmel’s Lasting Finish Pro – I work with my hands a lot and this allows me to avoid chips for the better part of a week.
Lather, rinse and repeat on your other hand. If you’re cool like me, paint one finger in a solid colour or something. I don’t know, I’m not your mother.
If you’ve followed these directions even marginally, maybe your nails will now look like the photo above. I have no patience for fiddly work and not very steady hands, so if I can do that, you can probably do much, much better!
In my experience, this goes a lot smoother if you work on your nails while watching a couple episodes of Supernatural. I don’t know; them’s the rules.
In conclusion, precious baby-angel-vampire-cat: