23 French manicure innovations for the nail art addict Advertisement

23 French manicure innovations for the nail art addict

Tips are back in a big way

By ELLE team  February 5th, 2018

The French manicure dates as far back as the 18th century. The look had a brief hiatus sometime in the mid-2000s, but it’s back with a vengeance, as every nail art addict can agree. And the latest incarnations are a far cry from the thick, angular acrylics of decades past. Scroll through your Instagram feed and you’ll spot genuine works of art: We’re loving the rainbow details, minimalist outlines inspired by Mondrian… even fishnet accents if you’re really being creative.

We picked out 23 of the coolest styles for you to add to your Pinterest board. And experiment with the next time you’re heading to the beauty salon.

23 French manicure ideas to try

A dash of glam

If you want to be adventurous but not go crazy (like the nails above), add a bit of a glitter polish to the tips and leave the rest of the nail a classic pink.

Design by @paintboxnails

Dipped in design

Inspired by architectural designs, this particular nail includes both a French manicure and a small work of art to match.

Design by @chillhouse

Dressed up

Add a bit of sparkle at the opposite end of the Frenchie to dress up the look.

Design by @valleynyc

French fishnets

French tips and fishnets go hand in hand style wise, so why not combine the two vampy choices into one? Start with a bare nail, then hand paint a grid or use a nail stencil to get the crosshatched design. Once dry, paint your tips white and finish with a clear base.

Design by @me_julielee

marble tips

Marble nails are an ongoing trend. Why not try it this summer with French tips? We're especially fond of this purple version, complimented by a full marble nail.

Design by @amivnails 

red hot
White and soft pink are so last year. In 2018, it’s time to go crazy with colours and sparkles. Fire Engine red pairs nicely with a silver shimmer because if you’re going to go big why not go really big?

Design by @nailsbymei

Understated stripe

This look, worn by ELLE.com's own beauty guru Julie Schott, is a subtle way to update the French manicure. After your white tips are dry, underline each with a stripe of nude and finish off the look with a clear topcoat.

Design by @naominailsnyc

The french line

The minimalist approach to the French manicure is the French line, where you trace along your nail bed in black. Honestly, it's so easy.

Design by @flowidity108

monochrome split

A French tip, half-moon combo, this monochrome look is a mod design that will go with anything. Paint one color first and give it ample time to dry before applying your second lacquer.

Design by @jessicawashick

The upside down

Who says a French manicure is just for your nail tips? Give your beds a little TLC by reversing the style and letting the design rest near your cuticles.

Design by @chillhouse

Seeing Double or Triple

A traditional manicure includes only one line but you can force the design into 2018 by adding another line of design. Purple lines, pink lines, cheetah lines—the possibilities are endless.

Design by @aliciatnails

Mondrian Outlines

Focus on this manicure's ring finger. The white tip is lined in black for a graphic, Mondrian-esque design.

Design by @nail_unistella

French fade

Apply the concept of French manicure—white tips with a nude base—to the ongoing ombre trend. For best results, apply the two polishes on a makeup sponge and continuously dab onto the nail. Finish with a topcoat.

Design by @sohotrightnail

double lined

This minimal nail updates the French tip with the simple additional of a corresponding middle line. For that section, mimic the curve of your tip to get the cleanest look.

Design by @aliciatnails

oil spill tips

Take the oil spill nail trend to another level by applying the foil just at your tips, leaving the rest of your nail bare.

Design by @paintbox

micro details

Bust out a thin brush to paint micro details to the base of your nail for a playful design. This back-to-school manicure by nail artist Kro Vargas features a yellow bus, a pencil, and a teeny tiny chalkboard.

Design by @krocaine

mint fade

This nail artist combined a mint French tip with an ombre fade. No matter what colours you choose, always start with your lightest shade first and give yourself time for each coat to dry.

Design by @palemoonseattle


For this checkerboard nail, start with a classic French tip. Once dry, apply black boxes to create the grid and finish with a clear topcoat.

Design by @mpnails

black rainbows
Rainbows lend themselves well to a curved tip. Try this technicolour twist on the Frenchie, but paint them with a black base for a moodier look .

Design by @nail_unistella

floral decals

An easy addition to the French tip? Decals. After creating the traditional look, layer a thin coat of clear top coat. While tacky, gingerly set your design and press down. Finish with a topcoat to secure.

Design by nataliepavloskinails

the classic

If you're loyal to the traditional French manicure, modernize your look by matching it to a white, cat eye.

Design by @sephoracollection


Play off your white French tips with hyper-graphic details in black.

Design by @spifster

freeform details

For a quirkier French tip, freehand your design all over like this mash-up of grapefruits, watermelons, and '80s motifs.

Design by @nailsbymii for @vanityprojects