Is A French Manicure Actually French?


After getting such great feedback on my piece about French stripes, I thought I’d do some more fashion history breakdown for you guys — this time, on the French manicure misnomer.

Is The French Manicure Really French?

Not exactly.

Some say that Max Factor introduced the style to Parisian fashionistas as early as the 1930s, but most believe that the style didn’t come into popularity for another 40 years.

In the 1970s, Orly’s creator Jeff Pink noticed a problem on movie sets: every time an actress changed wardrobe, the nail artists would have to remove her nail color and apply another shade to match her next outfit. This became pretty tedious after a while, so Pink suggested a two-toned natural look that would work with every outfit.

The movie industry ate it up, but so did the fashion runways when Pink brought it to France. It wasn’t until the trend caught on in the fashion industry that Americans noted the style and aptly called it a “French manicure.”

Is The French Manicure Really French

So Do the French Even Get French Manicures?

Not really.

Parisian nail salons often call this manicure, “American nails,” because it’s more something that American women tend to do. Also, do you know that you can also change your gel nail color without removing them first?

Most French women tend to manicure their nails without color (or a clear coat). This is in someways the look a French manicure tries to emulate, but it doesn’t rely on the white polish to create a nail tip. The result is much more understated, sort of like the classic French wardrobe!

French women also almost never get acrylic nails (just try even finding a salon that does it in Paris!), so those elongated French tips are definitely a French “faux pas.”

So there you have it! If you’re aiming to fit in with the French, ditch your acrylics and go for a natural or clear-polish look. A thick “French tip” is actually a dead giveaway that you’re American!

What’s your favorite way to style your nails? Do you like ‘French manicures’? Would you get one even if you knew they were actually American? Let me know in the comments!