A French manicure gives nails a clean, classic look with a minimal amount of work. Once a salon staple, a French manicure can now be done at home, saving money and the time it takes to visit a salon. While the individual components of a French manicure can be purchased separately, it is less expensive and more convenient to buy a French manicure set. The best French manicure set should have everything needed to complete the manicure and have a top coat color that is complementary to the user's skin tone.
The supplies needed for a French manicure include a base coat, an opaque white polish for the nail tips, and a tinted sheer for the top coat. Nails are painted with the base coat to provide a surface for the white polish to cling to, and then the white is painted on the tips of the nails. Once dry, the entire nail is coated with sheer, tinted polish. Some French manicure sets include a clear top coat that seals and protects the finish, while others use the base coat as a protective sealer instead.
The best French manicure set will include the items needed to complete the process. Better-quality kits often include stick-on guides for perfecting the look of the nail tips. The white tip portion of the nail is often the most difficult part to perfect, and stick-on guides help the user make a perfect line every time. A good-quality French manicure set may come with a white polish pen, eliminating the need for guides entirely. A polish pen releases only a thin line of polish at a time and is easy to control.
Consider choosing a French manicure set that comes complete with the supplies needed and with simple nail-care tools like files and buffers if you do not have a lot of nail supplies on hand. For someone who already has basic nail-care supplies on hand, a French manicure set with just the polish components and guides will be the best value.
Even the best French manicure set won't help if the application process is rushed. Each coat should be allowed to dry thoroughly before the next polish is applied; rushing results in lumpy, bumpy nails. Special care should be taken with the white tip coat to ensure a smooth line. Practicing on the non-dominant hand first will help beginners learn to complete a French manicure.