How the French manicure made a comeback

Written by Kristen Bateman

A new type of nail with a turbulent history has emerged this summer. The next-gen French manicure, now with options like multi-colored and animal-print tips, is seemingly everywhere.

For her 26th birthday, Gigi Hadid wore a rainbow of French tips from famous manicurist Mei Kawajiri. Kylie Jenner has often worn a version of a French manicure with super long nails and next level designs, including Pucci-inspired stripes. Lizzo showed off a French pedicure. Carey Mulligan, Hailey Bieber, Kourtney Kardashian and Selena Gomez have all sported the style in recent months.


“We have seen more requests in our salon for French manicures and even pedicures too,” said Nadine Abramcyk, founder of Tenoverten nail salon. “It’s always been a classic look with the super white tip, but people are making it their own now. A classic red tip with a neutral, almost transparent, base is a style we’ve seen a lot this year paired with a more almond shaped nail.

The French tip in 2021 is so popular that the New York Chillhouse Salon has created its own style modification, which can be painted by a manicure or purchased as Chill Tips, the salon’s version of a squeeze set.

The next-gen French manicure, now with options like multi-colored and animal-print tips, is seemingly everywhere. (Source: The New York Times)

The Going to the Barre ensemble has proven particularly popular, said Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton, founder of Chillhouse.

“It’s a soft, sheer pink – think ballerina vibes – with a slightly angled, wavy tip,” she said. “It’s so simple and high, but has an advantage.”


Mabelyn Martin, creative director of New York nail studio Paintbox, experimented with glitter and foils instead of color for her French manicure designs.

“Creating tiny patterns in the tips is also getting very trendy,” she said. “Another lookbook favorite is to contrast the textures by mattifying the base color and painting on a fine, shiny tip.”

Fans of the French mani adore it for its singular aesthetic and often for the fact that such a simple nail could elicit such a strong response. Olivia C. Tonin, 32, a French manicure enthusiast in Montreal who owns a nail installation that she posts on Instagram, had experimented with them a few times as a teenager, but only started wearing nail designs. more and more complex than in recent years.

“The reaction of people to me wearing French pointe shoes made me appreciate it on another level,” she said. “This was only amplified by the overwhelmingly positive response I received from other women – and the negative responses I received from most men.”

One could have predicted that after giving up on manicures in the midst of the pandemic, we will return to the French manicure – a style that has gone out of fashion in the past, too evocative, perhaps, of the malls of yesteryear. Chaun Legend, the artist behind Jenner’s nails, suggested the style could be transitional, a stepping stone to more complicated and daring designs that some aspired to in the era of paintless nails.

For Jenner’s recent Pucci nails, Legend has alternated patterned French tips with full coverage patterns.

“I think I’ve done pretty much everything from ombre shades to textured prints to swirls, all in a French look,” Legend said. “Sometimes bold full coverage colors or patterns can be overwhelming on every nail, but making it a French one can reduce the intensity.”

Nail artist Lisa Kon also plays with texture and color.

“One of my favorite types of modified French manicure is the animal print,” she said. “It always looks very impressive.”

That’s exactly what she did for Kardashian (a leopard print) and Kendall Jenner (a zebra).

In an undated image provided by Chilltips, Chill Tips with a slightly angled, wavy tip, from the Chilhouse Lounge in New York City. (Photo credit: New York Times)

French nails are back “with added essence,” said Kawajiri, who does the nails of the Hadid sisters. “In 2021, we added cherries, smileys and other artwork to the French tip.”

The fashion obsession with the early 2000s is perhaps another reason the French manicure is making a comeback. Fashion is cyclical, after all, and we live in the era of Prada mini bags, silk scarves worn as tops and baby t-shirts sold for a premium price on Depop. Nostalgic shows like “Friends” and “Sex and the City” are restarting. And videos with the Y2K hashtag have over 2 billion views on TikTok.

“Even the most traditional women can continue to have their French manicure and it might not look trendy, but a model like Bella Hadid is rocking it all summer long, and all of a sudden , it’s a Generation Z revolution, ”said Ramirez-Fulton. .

One of the attractions of the French mani is that it is inherently flattering.

“Leaving the clear part on the nail is sexier than when you get nail art on fully covered nails,” Kawajiri said. “French nails make your fingers look longer and more beautiful. It’s like magic.

The caption added a thought.

“Nail shaping has certainly played a role in modernizing the French manicure,” he said. “We now have coffins, stilettos, squares. The artist in me prefers deeper and exaggerated smile lines for the French. The deeper the smile line, the better.

This means more coverage and less nudity for a more extreme, contrasting look.

So, ready to pick a color?

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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