French Manicure vs. Pink and White

Eva Longoria Parker shows off her classic French manicure at a 2009 Hollywood party.

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Dial back to the 1930s. The upper-class women of Paris sought a manicure that didn't look like a manicure. They wanted a clean, fresh look that bridged the gap between naked nails and perfectly polished ones. The French manicure was born and, for decades, it has remained the go-to choice for a woman seeking a subtle, sophisticated look. Recent years have seen a French revolution however, with many modifications hitting the salons, including the brighter pink and white manicure.

The Clean Look

In the world of natural nails, time = yellowing. After you shower, your nail tips look their whitest, only to dim and tarnish in brightness as the day wears on. The classic French manicure resolves this issue, re-creating the look of freshly washed nails and skin. In a traditional French manicure, you apply two coats of bare color and save the white tips for the finish. The sharp contrast is distinctive and highlights the arc of your nail bed as well as the tips of your nails.

A Matter of Context

For some, a French manicure and a pink and white manicure are the same. A woman with very pale skin and rosy undertones has a nail bed that looks pink. Doing a classic French manicure on her nails would entail using a pale pink or a beige with pink undertones. Since in most cases a woman has brown, olive or beige skin color, her French manicure features those colors on the nail bed.

Flattering Your Skin Tone

One of the reasons French manicures have staying power is that they go with all skin tones. They are also neutral enough to complement any outfit. A pink and white manicure requires doing a little more homework. The perfect pink for caramel-colored skin looks flat-out wrong on fair skin. A woman with a dark complexion tends to look better in darker pink and deep mauve. A woman with tanned skin can highlight her sunkissed look by wearing a pink polish slightly lighter than her current skin tone. Gals with medium skin tone can handle saturated pinks, deep fuchsia and metallic hues, while women with fair skin fare best with a lighter but bright pink or a near-lavender.

Fashion Forward

Some fashionistas have been saying "Non" to the classic French manicure, making the claim that it has overstayed its welcome. However, instead of abandoning the look altogether, women have been sporting French-inspired manicures. Pink and white is just the beginning, as any mani with contrasting tips can qualify as an updated French manicure. Go bright with complementary colors such as blue and gold, or play with patterns by leaving a skin-tone or solid base and donning printed, stamped or glittery tips.

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