A pale base, white tips, and crisp lines: these are the elements of the French manicure that make it so timelessly chic. But while the neutral essence of this look makes it an easy go-to, there's still room to switch things up. Case in point: the trending American manicure.
"The American manicure is a French manicure where the tip is a softer white, but also—and this is key—in a more warm, almost yellow tone to mimic the color of the natural nail's free edge," says celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec. "Also, thce smile line, or the line between the pink and white part of the nail, is not perfectly crisp; it's a bit more blurred like how it is on most people's natural nails."
Celebrity nail artist Fleury Rose adds that the American manicure is a much more subtle look than the classic French. "It uses more sheer colors to mimic the natural beauty of bare nails, whereas the French manicure uses stark white for more contrast and impact," says Rose.
Although the look is less precise than its predecessor, it remains smart and polished. "The American mani has a wealthy, coastal New England chic vibe—clean and classy, and done, but never overdone," says Kandalec.
Meet Our Expert
Julie Kandalec is a celebrity manicurist and educator in New York City.
Fleury Rose is a celebrity nail artist in New York city and New Jersey.
How to Achieve an American Manicure
To start, finding the right creamy, off-white shade for the tip is key to achieving the American manicure. "Use a soft white that actually has a warmer or more yellow undertone," says Kandalec. "People think that nails are or should be white-white, but it's a myth! Like our teeth, they are transparent and have a bit of a warmer tone." Her go-to shades for the tip are Essie Waltz (below) or CND Plexigel BIAB in Porcelain if you're in a salon.
Essie Waltz ($10)
If you're going the DIY route, Rose notes that fine nail art brushes are key. She recommends the French Brush (below) or Mini Liner Brush ($15) from her brush collection.
Fleury Rose French Brush ($15)
Keep scrolling for American manicure looks to inspire you.
True American Manicure
Kandalec created this look on a client using the CND Builder Gel in the shade Porcelain.
DIY American Manicure
Kandalec shows off an American manicure she did on herself for her birthday.
Defined American Manicure
If you love the idea of a warmer white but aren't quite sold on the blurred edge, try a more defined edge to ease you into the look.
Square Tip American Manicure
Although the American manicure looks most natural on short, rounded nails, it can also work on a square tip. This look takes it a step further with a couple of snowflakes.
Clean and Simple American Manicure
Taylor Hill wore this effortless look to the 77th Venice Film Festival.
High-Shine American Manicure
A glossy, super shiny top coat and cuticle oil make this American manicure shine bright.
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