Always a chic choice when it comes to nail art, the classic French manicure is beloved for a reason: It’s simple, elegant and totally timeless. The minimalist style remains popular thanks to its versatility (that neutral base and white tip pairing truly goes with everything) but manicurists and nail experts have been playing with fresh twists on this classic technique for a while now. The result? A modern take on the manicure style, known as the 'colourful French'.
Dominating social feeds, it’s impossible to scroll past the biggest celebrities and influencers without spotting Barbie-inspired neon pink tips or glossy French manicures finished with an unexpected pastel pop. Truly, the best thing about this nail trend is that it’s so versatile and there are countless ways to wear it. Ahead, we caught up with some of the best nail experts in the business to track down the coolest takes on colourful French tips right now. Here’s all the inspiration you need for your next trip to the nail salon.
Possibly the coolest take on the colourful tips trend, the black French is an unexpected alternative to the crisp white tips of the traditional French manicure. "The juxtaposition of a dark colour with a delicate and pretty, classic manicure makes for an edgy version of this perennial trend," says session manicurist Ami Streets. Just one coat of Essie Nail Polish in Licorice, £8.99, will do the trick if you’re trying this at home, advises Ami.
If you like the classic nature of a French manicure then opting for a muted pastel or soft neutral is a great way to transition into colourful tips without going too out-there. This instantly recognisable shade of blue is perfect. "I've recently fallen in love with Tiffany blue French tips," says nail artist Aamirah Essof aka A Brown Girl Recommends on Instagram. Gucci Nail Polish in Dorothy Turquoise, £26, is a perfect homage to the iconic hue.
The influence of the Barbie movie can be seen across basically every trend this summer and nails are no exception. "A pink French mani is bold but chic and this combo is perfect for adding a touch of Barbiecore glamour to any look," says Juanita Huber-Millet, founder and creative director at Townhouse. The coolest way to wear it? "A jelly pink base and a hot pink tip," says Juanita. Try Peacći Nail Polish in Miami, £10, for the ultimate Barbie pink.
Tired of seeing pink everywhere and looking for something slightly different? Try lilac French tips, the cool-girl alternative. "Lilac adds a playful, fun energy to a pastel-toned manicure and it’s flattering for all skin tones," says Ami. "Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Immortelle, £29, is the coolest colour of its new nail collection and has a beautiful, gel-like, high-shine finish for this look."
Candy Cane Glazed Red
Popularised by Hailey Bieber during last year's festive season, candy cane red really is the perfect way to describe this cheery hue — but these French tips are not just for Christmas. "The bright red tips are fresh, upbeat and eye-catching and it works all year round," says Sonia Hully, founder of Nailberry. Try Nailberry Nail Polish in Red Hibiscus, £14, which has a shimmery finish to recreate that chrome effect at home.
While this trend provides the perfect opportunity to be playful with your nail polish selections, colourful French tips lend themselves to neutral shades, too. Opt for beiges, taupes and browns with earthy undertones for a chic, pared-back approach to the trend. Nails. Inc Nail Polish in Maldives Beach, £8, is a wearable tawny brown with mass appeal.
What’s better than one colourful French tip? Two, of course. "Negative space or a double French tip makes a plain manicure look so much more elevated yet still minimal," says renowned nail artist and OPI global brand ambassador Iram Shelton. Although this look is cool with any bold colour, OPI Nail Lacquer in Rated Pea-G, £14.90, is Shelton’s pick. It’s a lush green, which is popular all year round.
Feeling indecisive? A colour-clash French might just be the way to go. Red and pink is the hottest combination of the moment — if you’re feeling bold, choose one colour for the base of your nail and another for the tip. Or why not go for a split French tip, where each half of the nail tip is painted in a different shade?
Glazed nails have been dominating my Saved folder all year and frosted French tips are starting to take off too. "Be it Barbie-pink chrome nails or red glazed tips, this finish can be applied to just the tip of the nails or all over for a full-on mirrored effect," says 14 Day Manicure nail expert Julita Fagan. If you have a UV or LED lamp at home, you can easily achieve this look with chrome powder.
A barely there take on the trend, the micro French offers up just the teeniest slice of colour at the tips of the nails. "It’s something you can do at home quite easily and it’s a great way to introduce a bit of colour to your nails without the commitment of full coverage," explains Ashleigh Alli, founder of ASHE London. Experiment with hues you might not usually wear, like this rich navy blue or brighter neon shades.
Almost all of the experts I spoke to were in agreement that one of the coolest ways to wear the colourful French trend in the coming months is with metallics, particularly warm gold shades. Dior Vernis Nail Polish in Solar Bronze, £27, is the perfect creamy gold for shimmering tips.
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen — we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission.