One of my favorite types of manis is the colorful French. French manicure at a salon is typically white on the parts of your nail that stick out past your fingertip, and either clear or a clear-pink on the base of the nail (finished with a glossy top coat). These manicure can cost in the range of $15 at a nail salon, and sometimes only last a day or two before they start to fade and chip (especially if you get an airbrushed white).
So I set out to make my own French tip manicures at home! It just takes a good one-coat polish, a few tools and some patience.
Start out with clean nails, freshly removed and buffed with a buffing block. This removes the oils from your nails (which helps polish stick better) and gives a smooth surface for the polish. You can get basic buffing blocks at any beauty supplier for under $1. Next, apply your base coat (I use Seche Clear or Milani Smoothe Base Coat). Now it's time for your first French tip tool...
Nailene Perfect Tips. You can find these at any CVS for $2.29, packages of 96. (Not bad, huh??) They are little plastic sticky strips that help you do an excellent French tip. Apply them with the top line sitting just where your nail bed ends and your nail tips begin. Then, find your one-coat polish and start painting the tips, like this...
I highly recommend doing one hand at a time. As soon as the polish is on each nail, quickly rip off the tip guides, pulling UP and away from your finger. If you wait too long, the polish could adhere to the guide and come off with it. Rinse/repeat on your other hand. Wait a bit for the polish to dry, and apply your top coat (I use Seche Vite). This is what you should have:
Sinful Colors "Black on Black" is hands-down the best black polish I have ever found. You can find it at Walgreens for $1.99. It goes on completely opaque in one coat and has never stained my nails. The one coat dries fairly quickly as well.
You can do any variety of colors with these techniques. Another of my favorites is a vibrant pink base and black tips (just make sure your base color is fully dry before you start with the tips). Adding a coat of iridescent glitter (like China Glaze "Fairy Dust") can add a lovely sparkle to this, too!
Happy painting, everyone!