As different in application as they are in name, the French vs. American manicure debate continues. Which is indeed the lovelier option? Some might argue about their similarities, but the differences are glaring, and each looks amazing when done just right. How does one tell them apart?
Manicures have been indicators of social status since ancient times, and though times have certainly changed and the meanings no longer the same, one’s choice of polish says much about their personality, as well. French manicure was once the go-to design for nails to speak elegance and grace. That has changed since other gorgeous styles have popped up and threaten to throw their cousin under the bus.
However, we’re nowhere near removing the French manicures from our preferences, though we certainly do give more thought to newer options, like the American manicure.
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What Is an American Manicure?
Whereas the French manicure is known for its pink-toned clear base with dense, white tips, the American manicure consists of a subtler design mimicking your natural nails with a flesh- or cream-colored base and a nude to off-white tip. There might be a hint of pink or even an extremely light red. It gives one a more natural look, though the gel and “fake” nail options with an American manicure are simply divine.
One might even consider it an improvement on the French. There are a number of differences between them that we’ll get into later on. However, the American manicure has a sleek look to it, foregoing stark classics for a natural, blended look.
American manicure is simply perfect for women opting for that barely made-up look, especially those prone to making mistakes when applying the manicure themselves, thus allowing the softer, neutral colors of the American nails to reduce the look of inadequate French mani skills.
How to Get American Manicure at Home
You might not always have time to pop into the salon. Here, we outline in detail the steps to giving yourself an American manicure when cash and time are in shortage. It is a natural design most certainly worth trying, especially if you wish to go beyond the simple beauty of a French nail.
Step 1: Prepare Your nails
As with any manicure, you need to get your nails ready for their makeover. This means the equivalent of a shower and shave but adopted for your nails specifically.
- Start by filing, trimming, and shaping your nails, washing your hands thoroughly, and removing any dirt or old polish that might get in the way.
- Groom the cuticles with specific cuticle removers while also pushing them back a little at a time with an orangewood stick or the flat end of a regular clear one.
- Clean up and get ready for the application with a moisturizer that quickly absorbs and leaves your skin smooth to the touch. Pick up the hand and nail cream that meets your specific requirements. There are many options to choose from.
Step 2: Apply the Polish
Here is where your skill comes in, but before you start, make sure you have over an hour to allow your nails to dry sufficiently afterwards. It is not as simple a process as one might imagine, and there are several coats and techniques involved to make for a truly mesmerizing effect. You will need:
- Off-white, opaque nail polish (can be ivory or pale nude or another similar hue)
- Neutral nail polish in light pink, beige or similar hue
- Manicure strips (a kit with a stencil guide might be a good option)
- Clear base coat
- Clear top coat
- Start by applying a base coat as with any manicure to help ensure the colors adhere. This is a clear version before you move onto the neutral hue you picked. Pink, beige, or peach are great options. Let it dry.
- A second coat isn’t necessary, really, unless you’d like to make the tint a touch more noticeable.
- Now pick up the color you’d like for the tip and carefully color in the part that has no skin underneath. You can use a stencil here or go freehand if you dare.
- Doing the tip after the neutral polish makes it stick out a little more. For a humbler effect, go with the tip after the base, followed by the main polish.
- Finish it off with a clear topcoat and let it dry while you admire your handiwork.
Of course, you can always have your American manicure done at a salon for around $15 to $25 a visit if you find it too hard to handle on your own. All that matters is that you enjoy your fingers dipped in gentle simplicity.
Photos via @kovalinail_art, @cirulnya_sova, Instagram
French vs. American Manicure: All the Differences to Know
We already started with listing the differences between the two manicures, but that might be because the Frenchie is well ingrained in our minds, and we have to compare the American (and apparently the African) against it to be able to properly present the look. As such, one should note that while both have the same general idea, they are nowhere near being considered identical.
- Color: We started with this comparison for a reason. French manicures bring clear or light pink translucent to transparent bases to the nails before finishing off with bold, white strips across the top of the nail that are thin or thick as per one’s desires, and always bold. The American manicure changes things up with the cream base and the tip bearing a touch of red or pink. It has a more natural look, as well, when applied to the nails.
- Shape: Beyond the color is the nail shape when it comes to how the French and American manicures differ. The former favors a square with rounded sides, while the latter has no standards, and one can easily get creative with the finishing touches. It has a softer look to it, yes, but the shape itself can be quite sharp indeed.
In general, French manicures have become a staple of weddings and such grand events, while the American version is used for one’s day-to-day workload.