I love the look of a classic French manicure. It is my go-to look for my nails. For the longest time, I never had my nails painted because nail polish always peeled or chipped off within a day or two. I can still hear my Mom telling my sisters and me that if we were going to wear polish it should look nice. She did not like it when we had “half-worn” polish on our nails because we were picking at it. I remember watching my Mom paint her nails all of the time! Her nails were always done and always looked nice.
So, when the newest trend started a few years ago of gel polish it worked out perfectly for me! Regular nail polish peeled right off of my nails but gel polish will stay on my nails until I either remove it or it grows out. I very rarely wear color on my fingernails, I love the look of a classic French manicure. It is my favorite but it is not the easiest to do yourself. It has taken me some time to perfect my technique and I have it down now!
My top pick for gel polish is OPI, I have tried several other brands but OPI has performed the best for me. I have also tested out many different shades of pink for a base color and my top pick for that is, OPI, Let Me Bayou a Drink. For my white tip, I always use, OPI, Alpine Snow.
If you want your manicure to last I have learned by trial and error that prep is extremely important (see #2 &3). Below I review all of the main products that I use for my French manicure. I am not going to review every step on how to use gel polish only how I do my French tip along with a short video example.
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CND Shellac Brisa LED light
I have used a few different lights and this is my favorite I have had it for a few years now without having to replace any lamps in it. This is something that I would not try to save money on unless you aren’t sure if you are going to continue to do your nails, in the end, it will pay for itself. There are many brands just do your research for what will work best for you. I have linked an OPI LED light on my “favorite things” page which is a great option.
OPI Bond Aid
This is a pH balancing agent. This will aid in balancing the pH in your nail bed so it will help the polish to adhere and last longer.
Protein Bond by Young Nails
This is a non-acid adhesion product, it is a proprietary polymer that bonds to the keratin structure and creates a stickier surface. It bonds to the natural nail and provides an anchor to the gel polish. Since starting to use this I have not had hardly any lifting of my gel polish.
Gelish Brand Structure Gel
This is not an OPI product but I have recently started to use this and it has worked wonders since using it. Gelish brand structure gel, it needs to be cured under the LED light. It provides a great base and gives your nails an extra sturdy feeling.
Files, I use several different types depending on what stage of the process I am in. I use a Cuccio Pro Zebra 100/180 (grit) for when I am filing down my nails and getting ready to soak them off. This is good for roughing them up quickly. You would NOT want to use this on your natural nail. Harmony 240/240 (grit) for filing the tips of my nails and any detailing that I need to do. Harmony 100/180 (grit) I will use this for various things including buffing down the residue left after my nails soak in acetone. Silver cuticle pusher with a flat head, I use this to help scrape off the gel polish after soaking in acetone and also cleaning up my cuticles before applying new polish.
OPI gel polish, base coat, and topcoat in the black bottle.
I spoke about finding my favorite shade of pink for the base coat and that is OPI, Let Me Bayou a Drink, white tips Alpine white.
I think one of the most difficult parts of a French manicure is perfecting the French tip. I have tried so many different things and have found the best and easiest trick! You will need a small glass dapper dish, a small oval nail brush, and Isopropyl Alcohol. I will add a quick video below that will show an example of how I do mine. You polish the tip of your nail with the white polish, you can try to get it looking as good as you can, you then dip your nail brush in the alcohol and dab it on a paper towel to remove the excess, you use the brush to make the perfect white smile. The alcohol removes it from the nail without messing up the under color you already placed.
I also double cure my nails at the end after the final coat of topcoat. I have just found this works best for me.
Removing Gel polish is never the fun part! This is when I use my Zebra heavy grit file and rough up my nails. I use cotton balls soaked in acetone and foil to wrap each nail for about 15 minutes and then use the cuticle scrapper to scrap the rest of the gel polish off. If needed I will use the buffer to remove any residual polish and shape each nail and then I am ready to go!!