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The Iconic French Beauty Look Parisians Are All Wearing

January 1 | 3 minute read

Memo French Manicure Paris Trend Hero 16x9

Originally published on | September 8

Alongside the comeback of countless Y2K trends, the French manicure (known more casually as ‘French tips’) is having a full renaissance in Paris – and the world over. In recent years, the two-colour nail has been updated from the traditional version, instead rendered in pops of neon, metallic and asymmetrical designs worn by everyone from Lizzo to Kourtney Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez.

In the French capital, however, the look du jour has come full circle and is being embraced again in its most elegant, staid form: a subtle and glossy nude bed with classic white tips.

The result is something very put-together and elegant – which fits the conceived ideal of timeless ‘French girl’ allure; as simple yet effective as the perfect red pout or a fringe that nonchalantly frames the face (see also: VIOLETTE_FR).

Those who experienced the French mani’s wide popularity in the early 'aughts will remember it as the grown-up and, let’s be honest, expensive-looking option – the beauty world’s equivalent to a string of white pearls.

We venture this was not just because it was Posh Spice’s nail of choice, but precisely because it was revered as ‘French’ – the eternal arbiters of style.

And yet, it is – like the French braid – in fact not French; instead, its origins instead lie in that most un-Parisian of places: Hollywood, courtesy of Jeff Pink, Founder of nail care brand Orly. Pink created the French manicure in 1977 for the cinema industry, as something versatile enough to complement any outfit on-camera.

In its most natural-looking iteration, much of its longstanding appeal lies in the flattering nature of the final result: the barely-there base enhances the nails’ natural beauty, acting like a subtle swipe of concealer to even out the colour and texture. Meanwhile, the fine white tips create more elongated-looking nail beds, making the fingers themselves appear more slender.

So, is this new minimalist manicure moment in Paris another byproduct of the quiet luxury trend? Or an about-turn from the ‘extra’ nail art that has peaked in recent years? Like everything else in our postmodern world, trends can be concurrent – and beauty, in particular, is about embracing individualism. In other words: if it feels good, do it!

Get the look

Ensure your nails are in good shape before applying polish. Trim, file and buff, and if you have time, try a hand-and-nail mask for an indulgent prep step.

Now, on to the polish. First, apply a clear base coat (we like these versions from Essie and JINsoon) to protect the nail. Then, apply one to two coats of a sheer nude polish that matches your natural nail shade, like manucurist's Pale Rose – how many will depend on your desired level of coverage. Following the nail’s ‘smile line’ (aka, the natural white tip of your nail beyond the nail bed), trace bright white polish with a nail art brush (manucurist's offering is even made in France) – or a regular polish brush and an extra-steady hand! – in your preferred thickness. Finally, brush on a layer of top coat to ensure your mani lasts as long as possible.

Finish with a rich hand cream – we suggest leaning into the French moment with lushly scented versions from Bastide or Diptyque.

Related topics and brand tags

Hand careEssieJINsoonManucuristBastide
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