How Do I Choose the Best French Manicure Nail Polish?

Amanda R. Bell

Choosing the best French manicure nail polish depends on whether you want a traditional French manicure or a more modern one. For the classic version, you will need a sheer pink nail polish and a very white, opaque polish for the tips. Depending on your skin tone, you may want to exchange the pink polish with a more skin tone version. If you want a bolder look, you will need two polishes in contrasting colors to create a nail design in the french tip fashion.

A woman getting a French manicure.
A woman getting a French manicure.

A sheer pink color is considered to be the primary French manicure nail polish. When choosing this polish, finding a color that creates limited streaking is ideal. With some sheer colors, several coats are needed to make the polish look neat, yet too many coats can cause the color to appear opaque. If you have a specific brand that complements your skin tone and that the formula works well for you, it is a good idea to select a sheer pink from that company. It can also be helpful to look up reviews online or in magazines to see which polishes have received the highest ratings.

Clear nail polish, which can be used as a topcoat for a French manicure.
Clear nail polish, which can be used as a topcoat for a French manicure.

While you need a sheer color for the base of your manicure, you will also need a very opaque color for the tips. When it comes to white nail polish, which is the common color used for this look, finding a formula that does not require multiple coats is essential. Too much polish on the tips of your nails can result in premature chipping or peeling. You can typically test the white polish at the store on a piece of plastic to determine if it is opaque enough for your liking. There are also white nail pencils that you can use on the underside of the nail to create a sleeker look on the top of the nail.

Sheer pink is the classic French manicure nail polish, although it may not work for everyone. If you have a warm skin tone, the pink can clash with your nail bed and make the skin on your hands appear sallow. The point of this type of manicure is for the nails to look naturally clean and healthy, which is difficult to accomplish if your skin does not suit the color pink. In this case, it may be best to look for an off-white or beige color. To choose this French manicure nail polish, try to find a color that closely resembles the base color of your nails after they are freshly buffed.

A modern twist on this look is using two bolder colors. When choosing this type of French manicure nail polish, you can get as creative as you like. For a less bold look, choose your favorite nail color as the base of your nails and a lighter color in the same shade for your tips. If you want your nails to be noticed, choose two nail polishes from a brand that you love in different colors. Red with black tips, blue with green tips, and black with pink tips are all good options.

Sheer pink is considered to be the primary color in a French manicure.
Sheer pink is considered to be the primary color in a French manicure.

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Discussion Comments


I really like the French manicure look. It's always neat and professional. I like the sheer pink polish myself, but I have pink skin, so it complements my skin tone. However, I have also used kits with a more beige polish and this looked all right, too. To me, it looks nice on me as long as the "tip" is in a very white polish. However, I can see where an off-white tip polish would be more flattering for some people.

I think the French manicure always looks so well groomed and "put together." It's understated elegance, like pearls.

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