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Wait, The Only Thing You Need For A Perfect French Manicure Is A Sponge?


In response to ITG wondering in print whether French tips were back on the upswing, a commenter named Tla once shared that “French tips are tacky and totally not cool,” and it got 107 agreeing upvotes. But as man plans the beauty looks they’ll never, ever return to, God (and the nostalgia-fueled pop machine) laughs. Seven years later the tipped-out manicure style is so decidedly cool that The New York Times called its official return early last month. So the question is not whether or not you should French tip. It’s: How are you going to do it?

French manicures look complicated, and they are! If you try to paint on a tip with a brush, the way pro nail artists do it. Up until a few weeks ago the best tip for sharp tips was using half-moon-shaped hole-punch reinforcement stickers as guides, which sort of helped, but were not quick or convenient. A new viral hack is both, and makes it genuinely simple to achieve a straight line with shaky amateur hands. All you have to do is coat something squishy in a few stripes of your favorite opaque polish, push your nail into it, and pull out for a perfectly crisp tip. Tiktok creators have been getting crafty with the tools they use to make this hack work, and you’re bound to have at least one of them somewhere at home. Here’s everything you can try:

A nail art stamp

Does it work? Yep

This is something a pro nail artist would likely already have in their kit. A nail art stamp is a tool that’s traditionally used to pick up and transfer designs from stencils. (If you’ve never seen one, here’s a video of a nail stamp in action.) It’s easy to hold and made of sturdy silicone. A stamp is probably the easiest way to achieve a quick and easy French, but it’s not something just anyone would have around the house.


<a title="frenchtiphack" target="blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/frenchtiphack">#frenchtiphack #nailsupply #frenchtip #siliconestamper #nailart #nailhack #fyp #ultaskintok #nailtiktok #nailartvideos #dontquityourdaydream #nailtech

♬ cameras - theplutoaudios

A silicone applicator

Does it work? Absolutely

There was a minute where it seemed like these silicone teardrop-shaped “sponges” would replace traditional makeup sponges. Why? They didn’t absorb foundation. The trend didn’t really take (turns out, it’s actually really hard to get an even blend with squishy plastic), but if you still have one of these at home, they’re excellent for French manicures. Easy to clean, too!


Tried the French tip nails with old silicone sponge 😂. <a title="notperfect" target="blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/notperfect">#notperfect #triedmybest #frenchtip #nailhacks #fyp #foryou #notaprofessionalnailtech

♬ original sound - Myke_Livinlegend

A Beautyblender

Does it work? Nope

We’ll let you in on a secret: Beautyblenders are meant to be used wet. This type of makeup sponge loves water more than a model on an airplane does, and once it’s absorbed enough of it, it’s too full to absorb your foundation. That’s why it works so well! Nail polish does not like water, so you can’t use it wet. And when painted onto a dry Beautyblender, it absorbs into the sponge and leaves a patchy finish.


trying the viral french tip nail hack but with a beauty blender 🤯👀 #lightslacquer #nailpolish #nails #frenchnails #learnontiktok #nailhack

♬ original sound - Adam Wright

A foundation sponge

Does it work? Sort of

Classic foundation sponges—you know, the triangular white ones that come in big bulk bags—are less absorbent. You likely have one at home, and you’d be taking less of an L covering it in lacquer. (Beautyblenders are expensive!) Work quickly to avoid splotches.


French Hack #frenchnails #nailart #tiktoktutorial #diy #festivallook


A foundation sponge and Saran Wrap

Does it work? In a pinch

The plastic clingwrap creates a shield on your makeup sponge so you can A) reuse it and B) get a smooth, even finish. But it does take a little extra skill—you’ll need to keep the clingwrap in place on the sponge through each poke, and if it moves or you do, you won’t get a precise line.


#Stitch with @bellamourbeauty . Just hackin it up over here #frenchhack#frenchnails #nailart #tiktokdiy

♬ Smalltown Boy (2018 Remaster) - Bronski Beat

Your finger

Does it work? Not very well

Mostly because you’re left with a big, sticky mess. You’ll have to wait until the polish fully dries to clean it up with nail polish remover (or touch anything), which is not ideal. It also doesn’t work on long nails—you can only stick your nail so far deep into the pad of your finger without breaking the skin.


for those with shaky hands #fyp #frenchmanicure

♬ Good as Hell - Lizzo

A balloon

Does it work? Yes, if you’re careful

Take a birthday balloon, blow a little air into it, tie it tight, and you’ve got a super stretchy poking apparatus. Genius! Just be sure not to use a teeny tiny water balloon, and not to fill it up too much. You want it to be about the size of a tennis ball. You can’t untie the balloon once you’re done, but you can wipe it down and save it for your next manicure.


water balloon + dollarama nail polish >>> <a title="frenchtiphack" target="blank" href="https://www.tiktok.com/tag/frenchtiphack">#frenchtiphack #frenchtipnails #beautytips

♬ Just for me - PinkPantheress

What’s next? A stress ball? A sock covered in plastic wrap? Your friend’s bare breast? Whatever you try, do let us know.

Photo via Fong Min Liao on Instagram