12 Alternative French Manicure Ideas To Brighten Up Winter

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There is no nail look more classic than the French manicure, but at a time where nail art trends change faster than we can remove our nail polish, it’s no surprise that this timeless style has had to reinvent itself to keep up with the pack.
Yes, 2024 is all about the alternative French manicure. Forget the crisp white tips and neutral base that define the French manicure we all know and love. This year, French tips have been turned on their head with nail artists tapping into minimalism in a bid to inspire a multitude of more creative manicures. From experimental colourways to faded tips, the best thing about the alternative French manicure is that the possibilities are endless.
Ahead, we share 12 of the best looks to inspire your own take on the trend. 

The French Fade

If you’re loyal to the classic French manicure then this subtle take on the style won’t feel like too much of a departure from the classic look. Also known as “baby boomer” nails, it has the same white tip and nude base, but rather than a sharply defined line separating them, the colours fade together for an ombré effect like this design by Sandra Khawaja.

The Double French

Using two strips of colour at the tip instead of a single strip of white, the double French manicure provides ample opportunity to experiment. This one by 2am London pairs a soft violet block colour with a purple glitter for a playful take on French tips. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Polish in Grape Shifter, $7.69, provides the perfect hint of sparkle if you want to try it yourself. We also love the below wavy, neon take on the trend by digital creator Suman. It's especially suited to summer.

The Reverse French 

Flipping the French manicure upside down, this alternative by Christina Louise take uses a pop of colour at the base of the nail rather than at the tip, and it’s surprisingly impactful. If you want something brighter, nail artist Iram Shelton uses a vibrant electric blue here for the ultimate summer look.

The Ombré French

If you struggle to pick a nail polish shade then the ombré French is the perfect solution to any indecision. While you can stick to one colour spectrum, Anna Hughes’ pastel rainbow tips are perfect for sunshine season.

French Corners

The beauty of an alternative French manicure is the opportunity to experiment with all aspects of the classic look, including the shape of the tips. Applying the colour to the corner of the nails at an angle, like Bryony Howell, adds an unexpected detail and looks undeniably cool.

The Micro French

One of the biggest French nail trends of the last few years, teeny-tiny micro French tips aren’t going anywhere and Harriet Westmoreland is the queen of them.

The Invisible French

Also known as a “negative space” manicure, the invisible French uses fine lines and blank space at the tip of the nail, rather than filling it with colour. If you want to step away from white, Bryony Howell’s sleek black take on the trend is wonderfully minimalist, and all you need is a black nail polish.

The Chrome French

Metallics and chromes are going to be huge for summer 2024 so take note of Eleonora Berlingieri’s molten gold French tips. The way that the colour fades into the neutral base of the nail also nods towards the French fade so you’re ticking two alternative French nail trends in one here.

The Deconstructed French

Forget harsh lines and defined tips; the deconstructed French manicure is all about having fun with nail art at the tip of your nails. Jess Brush’s crocodile-inspired tips make for a quick and simple DIY to try yourself.

The Colourful French

A simple but effective alternative French manicure, colourful tips will be hugely popular this summer. Make like Christina Louise and switch out your classic white tips for a soft pastel colour palette or have fun and experiment with clashing bold hues. 

The French Créme

Buttermilk nails are everywhere right now, so while Kanna Hayashi’s simple manicure might look like classic French tips at first, it has actually been created using a soft yellow polish. Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in 129 Ovni, $48, is the perfect shade to get the look at home.

The Scalloped French

The scalloped French manicure is “a dainty and ornamental alternative to the traditional French manicure that sees the usual white line replaced with a row of semicircular arcs,” manicurist Alex Philamond told Refinery29 recently. This set by Christina Louise is a cool alternative to nude.
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