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How to Execute Dark French Tips

This simple nail design offers a trendy twist on the classic

Written by: 100% PURE ®
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What’s at the top of our 2021 resolutions list? Aside from even more self care, it’s leaving our bad quarantine nails behind for something stylish and très cool.

2021 nail trend alert: forget the traditional white French tips, and try out colored tips instead. One thing we love about the dark French tips trend is how versatile the look is; any color or any finish will turn out gorgeous.

This nail trend has been all over our socials for weeks, and we’re ready to fully embrace the cooler, moodier tones of winter. Here’s a quick how-to guide on what to use, and how to get this simply chic nail style.

How To + Tools

Much to the chagrin of our 13-year-old selves, we never quite mastered the art of polishing our nails – let alone the precision lines of French tips. Lucky for us, now we’ve got an arsenal of tools and hacks to achieve the perfect French tip nails, without the help of a nail tech.

How To: Classic French Tip
The classic design of French tip nails typically features a pure white band, extending the width of the nail. It starts where the pink nail bed ends, and the white tip (or ‘free edge’) of our nail begins. Most often the design appears as a gently curved line that follows the shape of our nail bed, and is as thick as the length of our nail tip.

Here’s how we accomplish a French manicure at home with a dark, colorful twist:

  1. Start with properly prepped nails; this means manicure time. At the very least, we’ll want to make sure our fingernails are even in length and shape. If we’ve really got the time to luxuriate, we’ll soak our hands for (2-5) minutes with very warm water to soften our cuticles, then fully scrape away under-nail residue before finishing with a nice file and buff.

    PRO TIP: Don’t cut the cuticles. Cutting actually makes them grow faster, and can even expose your nail bed to bacteria and infection. Instead, be sure to regularly apply a wholesome cuticle oil. Our Nail & Cuticle Oil features healing jojoba and antifungal blue tansy for smooth, healthy nails.

  2. Next, we go in with a base coat of polish. If you want a clear, glossy base that shows off your pink nail bed, opt for a nail-strengthening Base Coat. Super important: only choose polishes that are free of common toxins, as most mainstream nail products contain toxins like camphor and formaldehyde.

  3. Now for the fun part: choosing the French tip nail polish color of your choice! This time of year our style color palette gets injected with dark tones like navy, olive, charcoal, and aubergine. You can also choose a flattering metallic for an unexpected finish that shifts in the light.

  4. There are several ways to execute crisp, professional looking French tip nails. The first, and easiest, is to simply use tape. Once our base coat is fully dry, we’ll apply a residue-free tape across our nail, leaving the tip exposed and cleanly lined off. Using the polish brush, we’ll apply (1-2) coats in our color of choice and we’ll remove the tape before the polish is fully dry.

    There are also a number of nail stickers on the market that make painting French tip nails a breeze. Another simple way to get this look is to use the built-in nail polish applicator brush to paint the tips in a single, sweeping motion.

    It’s best to start from pinkies inward, and use strokes going toward our working hand, allowing for an easy motion that creates a seamless result. To clean up the imperfect stripe of color, we’ll go in while the polish is still wet.

    We like to use a small brush (think lip brush or liner brush) and a tiny bit of toxin-free polish remover. We like this best-selling, unscented Soy Nail Polish Remover from Ella + Mila. The trick here is to use only a light layer of polish remover, so as not to disturb the base coat underneath.

  5. Finally, be sure to apply smooth, even coats of a aglassy top coat. This is especially important on the fingernails that are prone to chipping away nail polish (we can thank our aggressive typing and texting for that). Ella + Milla also offers a 17-free top coat that dries extra fast.

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V-French Tip
Now, the classic French tip with a colorful twist is a great choice no matter the occasion. But if you really want to spice things up, we’ll go for the V-French tip. This style applies paint across the ends of our nails diagonally, creating a point on the center of our tips. This style is best on medium to long length nails that have more tip to play with, but it looks great in any color or finish.

  1. First, we’ll repeat all the steps in our classic French tip nails guide above, stopping after step 3.

  2. For this design, it’s really best to use the tape French tip technique, as that results in the cleanest execution of this design. But if you’re practiced at nail art, feel free to try it freehand with a brush and nail polish remover for clean-up.

    Start by applying one strip of tape diagonally across the nail bed, leaving the tip exposed. Lay it from the top outer corner of the nail bed, to the center of the nail tip.

    We’ll apply (1-2) coats of polish until we’re happy with the opacity, and then we let that dry completely. We can’t stress the *dried completely* aspect enough! Next, we’ll repeat the taping and painting in the opposite direction.

  3. When finished, this design results in an elongated V-like nail bed and sharp, clean tips. Once dry, we’ll top everything with a generous layer of a shiny top coat – then we’ll probably show off our design on Instagram because #nailfies are the new selfies.

Toxin-Free Color Inspirations

Toxin-free nail polish can be challenging to find, but not impossible. We’ve narrowed down some shades between a few of our favorite non-toxic nail polish brands. Our shades are 15-free, Londontown shades are 16-free, and Ella + Milla nail polishes are 17-free.

Here are some of our non-toxic favorites from the brands listed above:

  • Gelato: A dusty mauve with a hint of gray that goes seamlessly from day to night, or from winter to spring.

  • Chim Che-ree: Who can resist a classic, inky black? If you ask us, it’s the perfect shade for French tip nails with a dark twist.

  • Truffle: This neutral metallic reflects a silvery shine with all the warmth and depth of vintage bronze.

  • Pecan Pie: This cinnamon brown shade makes us miss the warmth of fall and summer, and has a nearly-nude feel when applied to nails.

  • Buckingham Blue: A deep, nearly-black navy blue with a hint of cobalt for ocean-like depth.

  • London Fog: A rich, neutral chocolate brown that goes with basically every outfit in our winter closet.

  • Island Hopping: Lush, dark green goodness that feels both edgy and sophisticated.

We carefully hand-select products based on strict purity standards, and only recommend products we feel meet this criteria. 100% PURE™ may earn a small commission for products purchased through affiliate links.

The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.

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