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The Return Of The French Manicure

By Alison McGill

That’s right, this beauty trend ubiquitous with the ‘80s and ‘90s has been re-invented in a big, beautiful way. This throwback mani (it was the nail look of the Haltson-era Studio 54 days) is chic again, but this time it’s not all about trying to mimic the look of your natural nail with an opaque neutral base and white smile line, but making a graphic statement using pops of bright and neon shades.

We spoke to Jan Arnold, co-founder of CND and the undisputed queen of nail hauteness for her thoughts on the French manicure 2.0.

Everything Old Is New Again
“Back in the day, everyone from Cher to Liza Minelli rocked amazing nails; the shape was long and square and nails were finished with red or brown polish, or a French finish,” Arnold says. “All of the fashion elements from 30 and 40 years ago are definitely back so it makes sense that French nails are too!”

Modern Shades and Shapes Make It Fresh
“There used to be one shade of neutral and one shade of white used to create a French manicure which means it was not complimentary to most skin tones,” Arnold reports. “Today, we have every shade of white, from soft to dramatic, and the most luxurious creamy neutrals in every skin tone. The idea is to match the base to your skin colour to create an elongating illusion; drop the smile line (the line between the neutral tone and the white tip) to elongate the look of the nail bed; and then push length to exaggerate a slim, sleek and sexy silhouette. I also recommend sharpening up the square shape of nails for a modern finish.”

Have Fun With Colour Cool Combos
“If you want a natural more traditional vibe, stick to neutral shades for your manicure,” Arnold suggests. “From the CND line, I love Gala Girl as a base shade because it works well on both cool and warm skin tones and delivers beautiful creamy coverage. Pair with Cream Puff which is a soft, but still graphic white. If you want to play with colour, lean on your nail pro to find some beautiful pairings for you. For fall, I am loving rich garden shades like deep eggplant, dark greens and burnt crimson—they are very high contrast and look amazing mixed and matched to create a beautiful autumnal French.”

A DIY French Manicure Can Be Tricky
“This is a look which requires a lot of patience and a steady hand to create, so I recommend going to a nail pro for this one,” Arnold says. “If you want to try your hand at it, the trickiest part is creating a symmetrical smile line. Try affixing a piece of tape to border your smile line. Paint the tip you colour of choice and be sure it has completely dried before peeling off your tape. Fill in the base of your nail with your chosen neutral then finish with a high shine topcoat to protect your artistry.”

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