Sunday, October 11, 2009

French Manicures

I was at work the other day and noticed my nails were suffering from some major chippage - it was time to redo them. Those that see me regularly know that my nails are almost always painted. And the most frequent look my nails sport is probably the french manicure. I love it because it looks so clean, it matches with everything, and it goes with any season of the year. It takes forever to do, but it's so worth it.

My method lasts almost 2 weeks. I start by using a nail polish remover to remove all traces of previous color first, followed by filing to the shape I like (usually rounded or a rounded square - straight up square makes my fingers look short and knobby). I then use a buffing nail block to smooth out any imperfections in the nail (these blocks are your heroes after removing acrylics!).

NOTE: Speaking of acrylics/gels/fake nails, I've had them done twice in my life and will never EVER get them again. They made my nails so brittle and paper-thin - literally ripping off the outermost layer of my nail. My nails are now so flimsy and break after simply picking something up the wrong way. I was told by a nail tech to use OPI's Nail Envy (listed below) until the damage has grown out from the cuticles and that's exactly what I'm now doing.

The products I use in order:

1. Sally Hansen Maximum Growth Plus Nourishing Nail Color, Pure White Tip -I use this as the white for the tips obviously. Some girls will use stickers or tape to get that straight line. I find that's too much work and simply steady my hand and slowly paint straight across, trying to follow the line on my natural nail. I then take a concealer makeup brush, dip it in acetone and clean off any slip ups. A simple paint brush from a craft store should do the trick too.

2. Original Nail Envy by OPI nail strengthener. I have extremely brittle nails and if it wasn't for this stuff, I would not have nails at the length I do now. I never go without it. When painting, I ensure the brush is fully loaded with polish and wipe off VERY LITTLE excess (maybe just touch the tip of one side lightly to the edge of the bottle). I use 3 strokes - first paint a stripe the middle, then one side, and then the other (never redipping), turning the brush to a new angle for each nail side to get fresh polish to cover the whole nail - I also start a hairline away from the cuticle to prevent spillage. If spillage occurs, I'll wipe it away using my thumbnail.

3. Over all that, I go over the entire nail with Orly Beverly Hills Manicure, in Sheer White Tips (the bottle design changes continually btw), which is a translucent, ivory color. It softens the harshness of the white tips themselves a bit and just looks very natural. For the longest time, I used OPI's Pillow Talk, and was so sad when I saw that it was discontinued because it was my absolute favorite. I went months looking for something similar, and was thrilled to find the Sheer White Tips is nearly an identical color for half the price.

4. I use the Seche Vite Fast Drying Top Coat to finish. This is the best top coat I've ever found - aside from it drying quickly, it seals everything in serving as a protective barrier and STILL looks shiny 3 days later!!

Some tips:
- Before painting, make sure all the bottles you're using are openable!! Nothing's more frustrating than reaching for the last nail bottle of polish (while the nails are still semi wet of course) only to find it's stuck closed - ARGH!!
-Allow nails to dry at least 15 mins between coats. Make sure you take your time, I usually pop in a movie while I do mine.
-Keep some nail polish remover and a brush or q-tip handy to clean up mistakes as you go.
-If you can remember, make sure to paint the thumbs last. The thumbs are awesome to clean the edges around the rest of the fingers in case the polish spills onto the cuticle.

The results:

Anyone have any tips for nail care? What are your favorite polishes for the french?


  1. I used to have really soft nails. They would actually PEEL, quite gross. I've noticed that my nails are much stronger now that I'm older. The only thing I can think of to explain this is that I have a much better diet now than I ever did growing up. Very little (added) sugar, lots of grains, and just enough protein. I get a break in my nails every now and then, but it is a rare occurrence.

  2. Yes don't ever get fake nails cuz those will ruin all that and you'll have peeling nails for MONTHS!! (basically, til the nail bed outgrows) Biggest mistake ever!!