30 Unexpected French Nail Tips That Totally Reinvent the Classic Look


Love them or hate them, the staying power of the French manicure is undeniable, but the look has evolved immensely from its classic pink and white. The last few years have spawned dozens of different colorful designs with the same timeless DNA: arcs of color along the tips of nails. Genius nail artists have shown off their unexpected takes on Instagram, with half-moons in neon, tie-dye, and eggs (yes, eggs — specifically sunny side up).

For Tiffany M., the salon manager at Finger Bang in Portland, Oregon, inspiration comes from beyond the nail: “ceramic artists, tattoo artists, textile artists, and so on.” As she explains it, “Following other nail artists [on social media] is fantastic, but by admiring all different types of artistry, I am able to convert some of those techniques into new designs that aren’t just a replication of something another nail artist has already done.” As the collected works below prove, innovation can strike even within the confines of a French.

Los Angeles-based nail artist Betina R. Goldstein sees the French manicure as a blazer for your nails. “It will never go out of style and it goes with everything,” she says. “There are also a lot of ways to make it feel more young, fresh, and updated. And how you pair it (like a blazer), depending on color choices, shape, width, and pattern, can make it really feel new and different.”

Meet the experts:

Can you get a French manicure on short nails?

French manicures work on both long and short nails (with the latter rising in popularity, possibly due to people looking for the most hygienic nail length possible). Plus, the tips can be painted onto nude or bare nails, so you can let your nails grow without it looking awkward and having to run back to the salon for another appointment.

How to do French tips at home

If you’re ready to take on your tips yourself, New York City-based nail artist Lolly Koon recommends starting by putting the polish brush on the center of your nail and making a small dash. Then, make arcs on each side of the nail that connect to it. “If you go from one side to the other, one side is going to be thick, and the other side is going to be thin because you’re going to offload all the polish onto one side,” Koon tells Allure. Then, voilà, you’ll ace your half-moon tips.

French manicure inspiration

Here, you’re sure to find at least one French manicure trend that speaks to your aesthetic. Show your favorites to your nail artists or experiment with painting them yourself — many of the examples below also include handy directions from the originators of the work.

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