This post may contain affiliate links.

French and American manicures are birds of different feathers. In shape and in color, they are slightly different. They have the same general look, but with eyes that look carefully, you can spot the differences.

French vs. American Manicure: Differences

Looking at the French side of this, it has a pinky-toned clear base all over the nail, and at the ends, a dense white tip is painted. Then, what is an American manicure?

It is important to know the difference because lately we have heard about new trends – African manicure – and it could get confusing. And if you are familiar and like one type, it doesn’t harm to know about others.

Here is detailed information on American manicure, the difference with French manicure, and tips to get your own American manicure at home.


Guide to American Manicure: Contents

What Is American Manicure?

American manicure is a simple nail design mimicking your natural nails, using a flesh- or cream-colored base and a nude or off-white tip. American manicure is simpler and more natural than the French style. It chooses a more neutral look instead of the classic, stark-white tip. It is a new improvement on the older French manicure.

The color is usually pale and translucent. If you want your nail to be close to its natural appearance, then switch to American manicure. American manicure nails appear to be shinier and perfectly polished – and more beautiful than the natural nail surface. And the nail tips look soft.

American manicure has a creamy colored base. It has a flesh tone, finished off at the tips with a hint of pink (or occasionally red), and a unique natural look.


The nail has rounded tips rather than the slightly squared shape so common in French manicure.

Like French manicure, the base of American manicure starts with a clear pink color, and a neutral nude or off-white varnish follows. Finally, the tip of the nail is painted an upside-down V shape. You can add a small rhinestone at the centre of the V for extra beauty.

What Is an American Manicure?

French vs. American Manicure: All the Differences to Know

They are different, but the difference is subtle, making it hard to understand. One has gentle and simple colors – American. The other is all about shiny and bold white nail polish.


Let us look at the whole difference.

Color: Some would say the main difference between French and American manicures is the color of the tips, which is right. And honestly, if you would get the difference faster than anyone else, look at the tips.

A classic French manicure is identified with a pink-toned clear base and a dense white tip.

American manicure is similar but uses varying colors. It could start with a cream-colored base, like a flesh tone, and the tips could be touched with a hint of pink – and at times red.

Differences Between American and French Manicure
French Manicure

Shape: There seems to be no standard for American manicure in terms of shape. You can get creative with the shape. The French style, however, favours a slightly round shape.

In General… French nails have a bold white appearance, the tips are made to be bold, but the style tends to be a little harsh for its lush whiteness. Ladies use it mostly at weddings.

American manicure has a more natural look. It implements soft colors at the tips, which make it natural and close to regular nail tips.

Tips for Getting American Manicure at Home

The natural look of American manicure is worth trying, but be sure a slight mistake may ruin it all or fall your style into the French territory. So here are the tips to follow.

Step 1: Prepare Your nails

• File, trim and shape the nails.

• Remove any form of dirt or nail polish from your nails.

• Groom the cuticles. Cuticle removers are good in this case. Apply some to the area and tickle back the cuticle with an orangewood stick. Alternatively, you could use the flat end of a stick. Next, clean the nails.

Step 2: Apply

You will need:

• Off-white nail polish
• Neutral nail polish in light pink, beige or another similar color
• Manicure strips
• Base coat
• Top coat

American Manicure Ideas: Tips for Getting American Manicure At Home

The process:

• Start with a base coat. Then use a pink, beige, or peach color polish. Let it dry.

• Add paints to your nails with the neutral color of your choice. Let it dry.

• If you want a bold appearance, apply a second coat and let it dry.

• With a manicure strip or nail guide, paint a coat of an off-white color on the nail tips. Let it dry.

Note: Panting the white coat should end at the end of the nails’ initial whites. If you do not have nail guides, cut them in their naturally round edge out of painter’s tape.

• Finalize it with an application of a top coat.

Once it dries, you can rock your new American manicure as it pleases. The rest is left to your maintenance and the quality of the polish. Rock on, until we talk about French manicure!

How to Do American Manicure At Home

Photos via @kovalinail_art, @cirulnya_sova, @calgelsalon