21 French Manicure Ideas That Don’t Scream 1997

There’s no question about it: The '90s are having a major moment in fashion and beauty right now. From the return of scrunchies and barrettes to the comeback of plaid, velvet and (gulp) hip-hugger jeans, the decade has influenced our wardrobe and grooming choices once more. And though we’re happy to leave certain trends behind for good (no one needs to see your crack every time you sit or bend down, thank you very much), there is one look we still have a soft spot for and that’s a set of painted tips. Here are 21 new French manicure ideas for 2020.

What Is the 90-10 Rule (and Why Is It Crucial for Manicures)?

1. The Classic French

Go for a sheer nude base (as opposed to the pale pink we used to rock when we were 14) and a softer almond shape to elongate your nail beds and elevate the overall effect.

2. Black Tips

If white feels a bit too basic, try painting the tips black for an edgier effect.

3. Red Tips

You could also swap in a fiery red during warmer months. When it comes to French tips in 2020, any color goes.

4. Neon Tips

Full-on fluorescent nails might be a tad loud for your taste, but a sliver on the tips is just right.

5. Tie-dye Tips

Wherein two '90s trends become one. (Why yes, that was indeed a Spice Girls reference.)

6. Stripes On Stripes

Fact: Double the stripes, double the fun.

7. Matte Multi-tone

Why choose one color when you can rock five? Better yet, add a matte topcoat to keep things cool and not like you just dipped your hands into a crayon box.

8. Designer Tips

Aka the most affordable way to wear Chanel.

9. Scalloped Edges

French manicures are traditionally known for their impeccably straight lines. We’re going to soften the look with some scalloped edges instead.

10. Lipstick Nails

Not a fan of square tips? Bored by rounded edges? Try lipstick nails, which are filed at a diagonal slant to resemble your favorite tube.

11. Sparkly Lines

Colorful metallics meet a skinny sliver of glitter for a minimalist look that shines.

12. Tortoise Tips

It was arguably the trendiest animal print for the latter half of 2019, and you can revamp the tortoiseshell trend this year by keeping it just to the tips. All you need are tonal shades of brown polish, a drop of black to anchor the spots and a shiny topcoat to complete this look

13. Patriotic Tips

Bookmarking this one for Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

14. French Florals

Add a little whimsy to your French mani with matching florals along your cuticles.

15. Citrus Accents

For the perfect complement to your beachwear, consider a splash of yellow on the tips and a few white lines to transform your nails into little citrus wedges. After all, why wait for life to hand you lemons?

16. Transparent Tips

For all of our friends with short nail beds: You can always add extensions. Better yet, make them clear for the ultimate illusion of length.

17. Metallic Edges

You got your dress, booked a venue and finalized a seating chart. All that’s left are the finishing touches, and by that we mean your day-of manicure, of course. We’re guessing you want it to be special but subtle so it doesn’t compete with the rest of your look, right? Ask and you shall receive.

18. Mirrored Tips

To re-create this look at home, apply your nail polish along your cuticles and on your tips. You can use the same color polish (as shown above) or contrasting shades (like orange and purple or black and white) to really make them pop.

19. Holographic Ombré Tips

We love how these hot-pink tips fade into holographic edges. The nude base keeps the look relatively subdued (and guarantees a smooth grow-out).

20. Outlined Tips

Like the idea of a French mani but prefer a more graphic look? Paint your nails a creamy nude and use a brighter shade to outline your tips for similarly striking effect.

21. Linear Tips

For a minimalist iteration of a French mani, simply take a skinny brush and draw a line across each nail bed. Double them up for added impact.

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...