French vs American Manicure: What’s the Difference?

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Whether it’s 3D bedazzled jewel coffin nails you’ve had done for a special occasion, your favorite acrylic manicure created at your local nail salon, or jumping on the PolyGel press on nail bandwagon introduced to you by influencers on TikTok… if you’re a nail enthusiast, you’ve probably tried them all!

But in this article, we’re going to focus on the classics. We’ll do a comparison of French vs American Manicure.

The French manicure will rarely be center stage, and it’s unlikely to go viral in TikTok very often. But it is a classic that is always in style. And along with the American manicure, both use more neutral shades — seen on the catwalks lately — that resemble your natural nails.

So, what’s the difference between a French manicure and an American one? In this article, we lay out French vs American manicures for you, so read on…


French vs American Manicure

What’s the difference between a French and an American manicure? The simple answer is that a classic French manicure painted the tips of the nails white, and the broad nail bed flesh color. The American manicure tended to use an off-white or ivory to soften the look.

This two-tone style remains a classic look, and there has not been a whole lot of innovation in the design. But perhaps the most significant change is that the white tip is no longer a requirement for French or American nails. You can choose any color for the tip and make the manicure look stunning!

For example, purple French tips are everywhere at the moment.

Let’s take a closer look at these two manicures, and see where they’re headed.


French Manicure

The French manicure must have had its origins in 1920s Paris, in the cafes and jazz clubs, right?

Errr…

Although you could easily mistake that the French manicure had its origins in the streets of the fashion capital of chic, Paris, you would be wrong.

In fact, just like the American version of this technique, the French manicure has its roots in the good ‘ole USA!

In fact, just like the American version of this technique, the French manicure also has its roots in the good ‘ole USA!

Jeff Pink, who is the president of the family-owned Orly beauty company, which is based in Los Angeles, and to this day makes a range of cruelty-free and gel nail polishes, created the design when he was a beauty supplier for Hollywood stars.

He was asked by movie directors to come up with a color that would match all the wardrobe changes their leading ladies needed to make because they were frustrated that it would take too long for the makeup artists to paint and dry their nails on set.

That’s when Pink had the idea of using white polish, which wasn’t popular at the time, on the tips of the nails, and then applying a flesh color over the top to make the nails look more natural, but also glossy and vibrant on camera. This ended up saving time between costume changes.

But why was it called the French manicure?

Well, after the Hollywood set, including Cher and Barbra Streisand, made the look gain in popularity, this manicure technique was then also seen on the runways in Paris. And hence, the French manicure was born!

The classic French manicure has a soft pink or clear nail bed with white tips and a glossy finish that gives it a hint of sophistication. This will always be the first thing people will think of when they think of a French Manicure.

The classic French manicure has a soft pink or clear nail bed with white tips and has a glossy finish that gives it a hint of sophistication.


The Classic American Manicure

The classic American manicure, on the other hand, has a skin-colored nail bed with an off-white, cream, or ivory tip. This results in a softer, more natural appearance.

There is no clear origin or story as to who invented the American manicure.

Both of these more elegant-looking natural nail techniques are making a comeback, especially as they were seen on the catwalk recently during New York Fashion Week, with many nail enthusiasts on social media showing off the trend.


The Modern Twist

The American manicure has taken on a modern twist by using gel nail polishes, and adding color to the mix, after what was seen on the runway during Prabal Gurung’s fashion show during New York Fashion Week in 2020, where dark red tips were first seen.

And lately, purple tips have been everywhere.

The American manicure has taken on a modern twist by using gel nail polishes, and adding color to the mix, after what was seen on the runway during Prabal Gurung’s fashion show during New York Fashion Week in 2020, where dark red tips were first seen.

And of course, celebrities have made their own versions of the American manicure popular as this trend rises, like Megan Thee Stallion’s colorful creations and Selena Gomez, who rocked an infamous monochrome American manicure.

Source: Pinterest

Multiple colors have also been used to upgrade the American manicure to make it more modern, as well as shape changes like almond, wing-tipped, stiletto, and coffin, other than the more classic square French manicured nail.

Image Source: Pinterest

Get The Look At Home

Half Moon French Tip

If you’d like to get more creative with this classic manicured look at home, why not try these nail art half moon guides from the ” link_text=”OG in French manicures Orly” link_icon=”amazon” /], which will help you on your way to rocking a perfect result, no matter what colors you decide to choose.

Orly Half Moon Guides, 78 Count
  • Product Type:Beauty
  • Item Package Dimension:0.5 " L X2.0 " W...
  • Item Package Weight:0.1 lbs
  • Country Of Origin: United States

You could also try Saviland’s French Tip Nail Art Stamper Kit , which includes two stampers that will suit giving long and short nails a French tipped appearance.

Sale
Saviland French Tip Nail Stamp - 4PCS Nail Art Stamper Kit Clear Silicone Nail Stamping Long & Short Jelly Stamper for Nails with Scrapers Nail Stamper Kit for French Manicure Home DIY Nail Art Salon
  • 💅【Jelly Nail Art Stamper...
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  • 💅【Premium Quality & Perfect for...
  • 💅【Perfect to Refill Your Nail Art...
  • 💅【Warm Tips & Best Service】Wash...

They are made from clear silicone, so that you can clearly see what you’re doing, and they work great with gel polish manicures — just make sure you have your UV or LED lamp ready. And don’t forget to apply a top coat over your creation, which will help to make your American/French manicure last longer.

The stamper heads are also removable, which provides for easy cleaning. This means that you can restore them back to looking new, either by washing them under warm running water or by using a slip solution.

If all of the above sounds a bit fussy to you, then you can always cheat and use ” link_text=”KISS’s Everlasting French Nail Kit in String of Pearls” link_icon=”amazon” /].

Sale
KISS Everlasting French Nail Kit Pearl Real Short Length EF09 (1 PACK)
  • Flexi-fit technology for ultra comfort.
  • Flexi-fit technology for ultra comfort.
  • Flexi-fit technology for ultra comfort.
  • 28 French tip nails, pink gel glue net...
  • 1 PACK

The kit includes 25 short-length, flexible, and comfortable-to-wear French manicure-style press-on nails that have a shimmering pearl white tip. There is also some pink gel glue, a mini file, and a manicure stick contained in the box.

The attached tabs make these press-on nails easy to apply, while the rich pearled white tip is designed to not chip, crack or wear away for at least seven days of normal wear.


Tips and Tricks

So, with the trend for more classy nails making a comeback, what decision will you make in the French vs American manicure race?

Whether you choose the more classic French style or want to upgrade the American manicure and rock a more quirky look, you can be assured that you will be giving your nails the glamorous glow-up that will have others talking.

Written by Kayla Young

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