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How Do I Choose the Best French Manicure Set?

S. McNesby
S. McNesby

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.

A French manicure set may contain nail buffers.
A French manicure set may contain nail buffers.

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.

The trademark of the French manicure is the white tipped nails.
The trademark of the French manicure is the white tipped nails.

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.

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Discussion Comments


The French manicure seems to be the most popular way to have your nails done. I like to do both my fingernails and toenails with the French manicure and pedicure look.

The toes are a little bit harder just because they are smaller, but I think this looks much nicer than just putting a coat of polish on them.

Summer is the perfect season to spend some extra time pampering your feet, and I love to wear sandals when I have a French pedicure to match my manicure.


I am the type of person who rarely paints her nails or goes to a salon for a manicure. One year my sister gave me an OPI French manicure set for Christmas.

I might have stuck it in a drawer somewhere if she hadn't insisted we try it out that day. Not only did the kit come with everything I needed for a manicure, but also some cuticle replenishing oil and nice hand cream.

I must admit when we were done that I was very pleased with the way my nails looked and how my hands felt. This is a very feminine and simple way to make your nails look really nice.

I don't give myself a French manicure nearly as often as my sister does, but will take the time when it is a special occasion.

Once I tried the press on nails that were done in a French manicure, but I could never keep the nails on and I felt very uncomfortable wearing them.


I had the traditional French manicure on my nails for years. After a long time, I got tired of the same old look, and now I like to use a reverse French manicure.

I put a darker color of nail polish at the base of my nails, and use a lighter color for the rest of the nail. This is actually a little bit easier to apply than trying to color just the tips.

Using a stencil helps me get an even look, but it is fun to do for something different. There is no end to the color combinations you can do, and I also like to get creative and add a little design to nails where the lighter polish is.

Depending on how bright and bold the colors are, this really makes your nails stand out. You can also use lighter colors that are more subtle and still have a classy look.


Of the different manicure sets for women that are available, a French manicure set is my favorite. I think they have such a simple, classy look that look great whether you are dressing up or just hanging around the house.

For me it took a lot of practice to get a professional look though. If I knew I didn't have the time to mess with it, it was just easier to have it done at a salon.

I did have better results once I started using the polish pen though. It is easier to control the line and the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

I have tried to do a French manicure when my tips were too short and that was a disaster. You really have to wait until your tips are long enough, and it looks best when they are all the same length.


@feruze-- Nail artists can do French manicures freehand but they use a special French manicure brush to do it. It's a thin sturdy nail brush that let's them draw lines with precision. So they get a perfect line every time.

Anyone who's interested in nail art can actually buy a professional French manicure set online. It usually includes various nail brushes, along with nail polishes, base and top coats. Some will even include a small nail dryer so that it doesn't take forever for nails to dry.

I have one and I use it all the time. It's not that hard. I think anyone can learn to do it and of course, practice makes perfect.


The French tip manicure set I have didn't come with white polish or a polish pen for the tips. It came with something called the French tip pencil. It's kind of like a white eyeliner pen, except it was made for nails. I color the inside of my nails with it and it turns the tips white.

And all I need to do afterward is apply the opaque polish and top coat, and I'm done! It saves me time and looks really good. Every couple of days, I refresh the tips with the pencil.


@wavy58-- I agree with you. The manicure tip guides usually come in one shape. I do like using them because they make things easier and they're affordable. But if you're going for a slightly different shape it doesn't work. Also, if I don't stick them onto my nail very tightly, the polish bleeds through and I don't get a perfectly straight line. Instead, it looks like it's smudged. I hate that!

I haven't used a nail polish pen for the french manicure tips before but that's a great idea. I'm sure it requires a steady hand though and I'm not too good with that. It's still better than doing the tips freehand with white polish however. There are actually nail artists who do that. I could never manage that!

That's why I'm sticking to the French manicure sets for now. Maybe I'll get a French manicure polish pen and add it to my set. It'll be like a custom-made set.


@lighth0se33 – Base coats can be used as top coats, but the result won't be nearly as glossy or smooth. They were designed to be adhesive so that polish could cling to them, so you may end up with little sticky lumps on top of your nail.

Top coats were made to be shiny. They harden to protect your manicure from scraping and chipping. Buying a bottle of top coat would be a great investment, because it will last through many manicures and other polish jobs.

I like to get pink French manicures, and since these are a bit more decorative, I always seal them in with a top coat. I paint my tips hot pink, and sometimes, I even dot them with white polka dots. Getting creative with it motivates me to protect the manicure even more.


My French manicure kit only came with a base coat. I would have liked to have used a top coat to protect the manicure, and though my friend says that I can use the base coat instead, I am afraid that it will mess things up.

Does using a base coat as a sealant work as well as using a top coat? If not, I would rather just leave my manicure unsealed. It took too long to get everything perfect to go messing it up by putting on the wrong product. I don't have a bottle of top coat on hand, but I have no problem buying one if necessary.


@wavy58 – I usually eliminate the white tip polish altogether. My nail tips are naturally white, and the sheer coat is transparent enough for them to show through.

I don't see the need to struggle with painting my tips. I don't really like the extreme whiteness of the polish. I think it looks much more natural to just let the semi-whiteness be.

Luckily, the brand and shade of sheer coat that I got with my first French manicure set can be purchased separately. This is likely because people tend to run out of it before they run out of the white tip polish, since they have to use a great deal more of it to cover the entire nail.

The sheer pink toned polish makes my nails look flawless and so smooth. I would rather wear it than opaque colored polish.


I have always had trouble using the French manicure tip guides. It is really hard for me to get them on straight, because they tend to wrinkle up in one spot while I'm applying them.

I think it is because I prefer a more curved tip than most people. The guides are designed to be slightly rounded, but I probably try to round them even more.

So, I like to use the kind with the polish pen instead. I can determine the degree of the curve myself, and I can adjust it for each nail as needed.

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    • A French manicure set may contain nail buffers.
      By: bertys30
      A French manicure set may contain nail buffers.
    • The trademark of the French manicure is the white tipped nails.
      By: Valua Vitaly
      The trademark of the French manicure is the white tipped nails.