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Everything You Need to Know About French Manicures

BY: Editors | Jul 10, 2015
Everything You Need to Know About French Manicures

Here’s the thing about San Diego’s gorgeous year-round weather—hands rarely, if ever, get the chance to hide away in a pair of mittens. Since they seldom get a break from the public eye, fingers must look display-worthy at all times, whether they’re picking seashells at Sunset Cliffs or digging into Ethiopian cuisine in University Heights. But it can be exhausting to maintain bold colors and designs on your fingernails 365 days a year. Fortunately, many San Diego nail salons offer a perfect solution that’s simultaneously natural looking, low maintenance, and red-carpet glamorous: the french manicure.

What Exactly Is a French Manicure?

It’s an understated yet elegant nail treatment that eschews vibrant polish for a clear or neutral coat with precisely painted white tips.

What’s the Appeal?

The style's unassuming simplicity makes it a worthy complement to any outfit, from a pair of jeans to a designer cocktail dress. Perhaps that’s why it has become one of the most requested nail designs in the world.

How’s It Done?

Although the design may look effortless, it requires a keen eye and a steady hand to pull off correctly. After applying pink, beige, or nude polish across the nail, manicurists tackle those hallmark tips. Some technicians prefer to freehand the process, but many rely on a template, either attaching a stencil or coloring the back of the nail’s free edge with a white crayon. Then they color them in using white nail polish, making sure to paint only the small part of nail that extends beyond the finger itself.

Is It Really French?

Maybe. The origins of the french manicure are unclear. Some insist it began in French salons in the 19th century. Others argue it didn’t surface until the 1930s, when cosmetician Max Factor used a similar design to offset the overly moisturized hands of the Parisian noblesse. Its recent popularity, however, is likely due to Jeff Pink, founder of Orly nailcare. He claims to have invented the look after being approached by movie and TV directors who were searching for a universal nail style that could adapt to multiple wardrobe changes. After taking it to Paris runways, where it became an even bigger hit, Pink rebranded it the “original French manicure” and trademarked the name in 1978.

Where Can I Get One?

Just about anywhere nail services are offered, including many San Diego spas and salons. Perhaps the best spa in San Diego for this particular treatment, however, is the appropriately named French Nail Designs & Spa in Pacific Beach, which not only offers the traditional french manicure but also glitzy variations on it. The staff can replace the iconic white color of the tips with a more vibrant polish, or they can invert the design altogether by painting the crescent-shaped lunula white while leaving the rest of the nail, including the tips, neutral colored.