American Manicure

Achieve a clean, polished look.

While many women opt for the famed French manicure as their nail look of choice, more and more of them are making the transition to the subtler American manicure. The differences between the two are few and far between, but having another option is always favorable.

About the American Manicure

The soft, easy look of an American manicure does not go unnoticed by women who prefer to take a more low-key approach to their nails. Quite simply, this manicure look calls for a translucent or very pale color all over the nail, followed by an off-white tip. It's not drastically unlike a French manicure; in fact, the only main difference is in the color of the tip. The French style calls for a very vivid, bold white (similar to White-Out) on the tip, with a similarly neutral color on the rest of the nail.

Many people choose an American manicure in lieu of the French because of its incredible simplicity. The look is so natural that it's very much like a regular, untouched fingernail. The difference, of course, is that the nail appears more polished and clean, with a hint of shine. The tips, though, tend to resemble regular nails' tips because the color is typically very soft.

Despite its relatively elegant, clean-cut look, the French can still look a bit harsh at times, especially because the white tip is so bold. It's an especially popular choice for weddings, and many women never go without their French manicures, but the American style is one to consider for a more natural finish.

Give Yourself an American-Style Manicure

The good news is that you can give yourself an American manicure in the comfort of your own home, with very little chance of making a big mistake. That's another difference between the two styles: Since the French tip is so noticeable, even the smallest mistake is evident and must be corrected. The American calls for a very natural, light hue along the tip, so there is room for small errors here and there.

Prep Nails

Begin by preparing your nails as you would for any type of manicure. Now is the time to trim and file your nails if you would like to change their shape at all. Make sure the nails are free of any traces of nail polish. For a truly flawless manicure, your cuticles should be well groomed. Apply a cuticle remover to the area and use an orangewood stick to gently push the cuticles back. Using the flat end of the stick, massage the cuticle area to encourage any dead skin or little hangnails to be released. After this, cleanse the nails thoroughly.


Next, you'll need the following items:

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

Step by Step American Manicure

Follow these simple instructions:

  1. Begin by applying base coat to your nails. This will help the color adhere.
  2. After your base coat has dried, paint your nails with the neutral color of your choice. A second coat is not necessary unless you prefer a slightly more noticeable tint.
  3. Once your allover color has dried, use a manicure strip to carefully paint a coat of off-white color on your tips.
  4. Allow this to dry and then finish with an application of top coat.

Color Suggestions

If you aren't quite sure about which color to use on your nails or your tips, consider these choices. They're all natural and attractive.

For Nails

  • OPI Bubble Bath
  • OPI Honeymoon Sweet
  • OPI Just Tea-sing!
  • China Glaze Afterglow
  • China Glaze First Kiss
  • China Glaze Moonlight

For Tips

  • Essie Heavenly Harp
  • Essie Potato Fields
  • Essie Sandy Beach
  • Revlon Barely Peach
  • Butter London Eastender
  • Sephora by OPI Bare To Be Different
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