How to Perfect 2020's Biggest Nail Trend at Home With (Basically) No Skills


(Image credit: @ailamorin)

ICYMI—the French manicure has been the comeback kid of 2020. Previously considered outdated, frumpy, and old-fashioned, French-inspired nail designs began their revenge ascent back in 2019, and despite some raised eyebrows, the trend shows no sign of slowing down. (And we're so not complaining!)

Not only is the traditional white Frech manicure overtaking our Instagram feeds and nail-dusted inspiration boards, but countless whimsical, unexpected, and super-fresh takes on the trend are also popping up. The sky is the limit when it comes to French nail designs—not only can you switch up your tip shade of choice (we're especially loving neons and pastels), but things like glitter, nail stickers, and additional patterns and angles make for equally chic updates.

To celebrate, we asked celebrity manicurist Tom Bachik (who works with A-list clients like Jennifer Lopez and Selena Gomez) to walk us through his step-by-step process for perfecting a French nail design at home. And then, (just to get your creative juices flowing), we've included tons of French manicure inspiration pics for you to scroll through at the end. Try them yourself or simply screenshot for whenever we're allowed to visit the nail salon again. Keep Scrolling! 

How to Execute a French Manicure At Home:

When it comes to perfecting the art of an at-home French manicure or nail design, Bachik says that above all, a slow and steady approach wins the race. 

"I find the biggest mistake people make when attempting a French manicure at home is rushing the process," he warns. "Because a French manicure has multiple layers and the white goes on thicker, it can be easy to smudge. Be patient, and take your time. Allow each step to dry before moving to the next step."

Step 1: Prep Your Nails

Step 2: Paint & Perfect Your White Tip

Step 3: Apply Your Sheer Pink or Nude

Step 4: Finish With a Glossy Top Coat

Screenshot-Worthy Inspiration for French Nail Designs:

"This is where you get to have fun with it!" exclaims Bachik. "You can still use the general techniques from above but change it up a bit with the shapes."

For instance, instead of a classic, soft, natural 'smile line’ on your tip, Bachik says you can switch it up to create a deeper oval (for a more dramatic look) or you can create sharp sides to create a modern-looking V-shaped French nail design.

"Also, don’t forget to play with color!" he notes. "Make each tip a different color, or each side of the tip a different color. Add accents like a metallic stripe between the tip or a stud in the cuticle or between a two-colored tip...the options are endless! The key is to play and have fun with it and make it your own."


(Image credit: @imarninails)

A classic white French manicure is eternally chic. 


(Image credit: @betina_goldstein)

Double your arch, double your fun. To take things further, try a few (or an entire row or two) of light-catching rhinestones.


(Image credit: @thehangedit)

How chic do tortoiseshell tips look as an upgraded French nail design?


(Image credit: @betina_goldstein)

If all-over chrome or metallic nails feel like too much, using a shimmery silver shade instead of traditional white is a great way to give your French manicure a fresh new feel for fall. 


(Image credit: @oliveandjune)

Two pastel hues look elegant and sophisticated. 


(Image credit: @betina_goldstein)

For a more whimsical nod to the French nail trend, why not make your tips (literally) drip with gold?


(Image credit: @betina_goldstein)

The iconic French manicure, but make it black. 


(Image credit: @oliveandjune)

A few star stickers take this traditional white French nail design to the next level. 


(Image credit: @imarninails)

Your basic French manicure taken to the tenth floor—we're adding this wave-inspired look to our DIY bucket list.


(Image credit: @imarninails)

Make your classic French nail design two-handed—we dare you to choose two ultra-bold polish colors for ultimate contrast. 


(Image credit: @imarninails)

Red French tips look chic and unexpected paired with additional nail art—like this navy flower. (Not an artist? Try a nail art sticker, instead!)


(Image credit: @imarninails)

Another option? Neon green with a smiley face or two. 


(Image credit: @imarninails)

We love the bold look of long length paired with electric shades like hot pink. 


(Image credit: @imarninails)

This French nail design might be a bit more complex to tackle, but how cool will your tips look when they're rimmed with pastel flames?


(Image credit: @imarninails)

Nothing fits better with a French nail design than a rainbow. 


(Image credit: @imarninails)

A class white French nail design topped with a sweet sprinkling of cherries. 


(Image credit: @imarninails)

If you're a glitter fiend like us, we highly recommend a taking your next French manicure to sparkling, star-studded heights. 


(Image credit: @oliveandjune)

Work your angles! Try an array of punchy colors instead of white, and angle your Frenchie to the outer, upper corners of your tips instead of straight across the top. Basically, you're going for upside-down hearts.

Up next, 7 Fall Nail Colors We're Already Obsessing Over Because Time Isn't Real

Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.