How to master a chic French tip nail look at home, with guidance from the pros

A French tip manicure is the crème de la crème of timeless nail designs

A hand pictured with mini French tip nails by nail artist Mateja Novakovic/@matejanova / in a orange and pink gradient template
(Image credit: Mateja Novakovic/@matejanova)

When it comes to selecting an elegant nail look, few can compete with the iconic French tip manicure. Thus, adding the design to your own, at-home repertoire is a no-brainer - and we've quizzed the pros on how to do just that...

It's no secret that French tip nails are back (not that they ever really left) with the 2024 nail trends packed with every stylish iteration imaginable, from summer-ready pink French tip nails to chic short French tip nails. It's a design that never fails to elevate your look, adding either a touch of elegance or a pop of trendy colour (depending on what shade you opt for), making it quite the reliable staple to have in your rotation. Moreso if you can recreate the look yourself in moments when you find yourself nail appointment-less but in dire need of a sophisticated mani.

And though it can take some precision and [a lot of] patience to master, having this timeless look in your back pocket can be quite the life and money-savior. So we've asked the nail pros to share their tips and go-to tools for achieving flawless French tip nails, at home...

How to do French tip nails at home

First things first, what is a French tip? Traditionally, the design features a nude or pink-nude base coat, finished with a crisp white hue applied just to the end of the nail in either a curve or straight line, to mimic and accentuate the natural whites of the nail tips.

As of 2024 though, we've seen many a variation spring up, with classic white tips being swapped out for brighter shades, like red French tip nails and so on. We've also spied a few clear base coats being paired with these statement tips, as opposed to nudes - but both are still very popular options.

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A photo posted by paintedby_didi on

As for the go-to nail length, squoval nails and square nails are in high demand, as are almond nails, for achieving both an elegant finish and more of a curved, crescent-like tip.

And while you can, of course, easily request this design from your nail artist, if you're in a pinch - or just want to broaden your skill set - we've asked the pros for a step-by-step guide on recreating it...

A step-by-step guide to French tips

Sharing expertise on how to recreate the perfect French tip, Juanita Huber-Millet, Founder and Creative Director of Townhouse says to:

  1. Prep your nails: "Begin by prepping your nails. Remove any old polish and file your nails to your desired length and shape."
  2. Base coat: Then, Huber-Millet recommends applying a base coat to your nails before letting them dry completely. We'd recommend a strengthening coat, like OPI's Nail Envy.
  3. Apply your base shade: "Once the base coat is dry," says Huber-Millet, "apply your chosen nail polish colour to your nails. Sheer and neutral shades are a popular choice - we’re loving CND Beau and OPI Bubble Bath."
  4. Apply the tip: "Next, pour your chosen tip colour nail polish onto a piece of kitchen foil and dip a thin liner brush into it, working around the edge of the nail," advises Huber-Millet before then sharing her top tip for achieving a clean line: "If you are struggling to create a straight line try using nail tape as a guide," (available at Amazon).
  5. Tidy with a cotton bud: "Use a cotton bud dipped in nail polish remover to clean up any mistakes or polish left on your skin."
  6. Finish with a topcoat: "Once all polish is dry, add a topcoat, this will help seal the design and give your mani a glossy finish."
  7. Add a drop of cuticle oil: As a final flourish, when your nails are dry our beauty team also recommends adding a drop of cuticle oil to the base of each nail.

What tools do you need for French tip nails

As for what tools you'll need for this design, Huber-Millet recommends some cotton buds, a thin liner brush (for creating the signature French tip), some kitchen foil - to decant a drop of your chosen tip colour onto, to then dip your liner brush - a base coat and high-shine top coat and finally, a nail polish remover, to tidy up any mistakes.

How to adapt French tips to your nail length

The beauty of the French tip is that it can easily be adapted to suit any nail length and shape.

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A photo posted by matejanova on

As Huber-Millet notes: "For shorter nails, you might opt in for a newly popular micro French finish and for longer nails, you can experiment with various lengths/widths. For rectangle/square shapes, we suggest a straighter finish and for rounded/almond shapes, we suggest a curved finish."

A post shared by Mateja Novakovic

A photo posted by matejanova on

For a modern twist on the timeless look, Huber-Millet also suggests, "stepping away from the classic white French and experimenting with colour!"

Naomi Jamieson
Digital Beauty Writer

Naomi is a Digital Beauty Writer from woman&home, where she covers everything from skincare to fragrance but specialises, particularly, in makeup and nail trends. Through her work, Naomi gets to share her trend expertise and share her own shopping recommendations and product reviews. Previously, she worked as a Lifestyle News Writer for My Imperfect Life magazine, where she used her savvy for TikTok to bring readers the latest beauty buzzwords, fashion movements and must-have products. 

Before that, Naomi split her time between both GoodTo and My Imperfect Life, whilst training for her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ, for which she earned a Distinction. Interestingly though, Naomi actually has a background in design, having studied illustration at Plymouth University but leapt into the media world in 2020, after always having a passion for writing. Now, when she isn’t reporting on the best perfumes and latest beauty releases, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping...