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March 9, 2012
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Happy Friday everybody!  Last night I got an email asking about how to do french tips, and I realized it’s one of the more common questions on the site, so wanted to do a quick breakdown on one of the tricks for making french tips a little easier.  If you’re not ready to freehand the tips, and aren’t really happy with the flatline you get with using tape, here’s your fix: rubber bands.

Because they’re so pliable they’re going to be able to really bend to the shape of your nail without puckering like tape and can help create a more natural tip outline.  I’ll usually start with a smaller rubber band and then knot it in half, like so:

rubber band french tips

Then (and forgive the angle on this, it’s really hard taking a picture in this position for some reason) I’ll use that to slip one loop over the top of my nail and the other over my thumb to help anchor the rubber band/pull it taut enough that it won’t wiggle out of place.  I like to use the mounds of my fingertips to sort of determine where the line starts and stops: if you’re wrapping the rubber band over a lot of skin you’re probably going to get a pretty deep tip in the end (insert “that’s what she said” joke here).

french tip tutorial

french tip nails

You can use any polish or paint you want to go in and drop some color (or just white) onto that tip of nail that’s left exposed.  If you’ve got acrylic paint on hand I’d really suggest using that since it won’t slide and slip as much as nail polish (once you put it on there, it’s on… and if you screw up monumentally it just takes a little water to fix)… but polish is fine.  Just don’t glob a lot on there, work in thin layers if you need to build up the color — this will help keep the polish from bleeding out on the sides of your nails.

Finish it off with a topcoat and voila, you’ve got yourself some easy french tips!

French Tip Trick Nails

how to do a french manicure

This mani, for the record, is on a FOUR coat base of Essie Bags to Riches, which even then wasn’t a great cover with some odd bare spots, so I used some gold embossing powder to fill in the more naked bits… frustrating, because I like the color a lot, but can’t be bothered with that sort of application.  And yep, the tip color is in cream and not white.  :)

Essie Bags to Riches

17 Responses

  1. Jane says:

    This is awesome! I’ve never thought of it, and my freehand is just awful. Thanks!

  2. finished10dnails says:

    Well, now, that’s a pretty cool way to do french tips!

    And the “that’s what she said” made me laugh.

  3. the nerd says:

    No prob, I hope it works out for ya! As with all these techniques there’s generally a learning curve (I think the trick with this one is where to put the rubber band, how hard to hold it down and carefully removing it without dragging polish along) but once you nail it (har har, I’m punny today) you’re golden!

  4. Gottwinkies says:

    Inquiring minds want to know…HOW the heck do you get that rubberband off…while the polish is wet?? I remember you writing me about this method…good to see it, but I still have visions of a wet polish-covered rubberband flying into my face, lol!!!! Might take a Youtube for this gal!

    • the nerd says:

      Good question! With acrylic it dries pretty much right away, so you’re ok to wait a minute for it to settle and then just release the band when it looks dry. With polish, I’d a) wait til it’s not runny to lift off the rubber band (tacky’s cool, but not like “omg the dam burst!” effect) and b) try to only pull the rubber band as tight as you need to in order to make a connection but not so tight that you’ve fashioned a slingshot… but using that two-fingered pic about as the example, you could use your other hand (in my case, the left) to insert two other fingers (or heck, chopsticks, or two pens or tines taped to a desk, anything that’s essentially two prongs) on either side of the nail and then lift up simultaneously. That way you’re maintaining whatever tension you’ve set on the rubber band but still getting it all off the nail in one swoop.

  5. Helga says:

    What a fun way to do french tips! I think I’ll stick to (no pun intended lol) tape but I always like to broaden my horizon ;)

    • Katherine says:

      Well, I like tape too, but sometimes it just doesn’t look good. Too straight or something. I found that using curved nail scissors to cut off the end of the tape strip makes it look very nice, and provides me with a perfectly curved line every time. -your friend, Katherine

  6. Fingers says:

    Keep trying to add your blog URL to my google reader but it won’t let me! I don’t know why it doesn’t work. It did for all the other WordPress blogs I added! Anyway, sorry I’ve been a comment slacker. It’s not just your blog it’s all of them!

    For me, my tips trick is to turn the brush sideways and use half the brush to paint the tips and the other half automatically wraps them for you. Now I do it without even thinking but when I started this way, I used to move my hand and not the brush to get a straight line. Your way is something I never would have thought of. Very slick!

    Any tricks on why my reader won’t accept your URL? Says it doesn’t exist!

    • the nerd says:

      Hey lady! That’s really weird — I just checked the RSS feed (the orange button at the top of the sidebar) and it’s definitely working; have you tried plunking that address in there instead? I’m also posting all of the daily content (links to it) on Google+, Twitter, FB and Tumblr, so if you’re on any of those you can add me there instead of trying to force the Google Reader to work right…. :: shakes fist at Google::

  7. robin_booski says:

    this is cool but you can also use paper hole reinforcers to get that curve.

  8. Charlotte says:

    Such an amazing trick! Best because you don’t have to wait for the polish to completely dry like you would with tape :)
    French tips will be my new thing now!

  9. Robin says:

    Good idea but i just use those circular reinforcers, the ones u use for half moon nails

  10. Cool Girl says:

    I LOVE this trick works well some things don’t work but this dose!!

  11. Kirstin says:

    Wow… for years I’ve been trying to find the easiest/least messy way to do them and then I found this site! lol thank you!

  12. Lena1998 says:

    Okay, I have a MAJOR problem with my nails.
    Being right-handed, I struggle to just paint a plain base coat using my left hand (to paint right-hand nails).
    Any tips?
    Love always,
    -Lena x

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