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11 Steps to the Perfect At-Home French Manicure

One of the most important parts of French beauty is looking well put-together. On the one hand, you want to look effortless, but on the other hand, you also want to look intentional.

Groomed nails are essential for striking this balance, especially if you opt for a natural-looking French manicure

We’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to achieving perfect nails at home, so you can skip the nail salon. You can also adapt these tips to give yourself a relaxing pedicure! First, we’ll cover all the tools you need to have on-hand, and then dive straight into the how-to.   

At-home manicure tools

Neatly displayed manicure equipmentYou don’t need fancy tools to create a DIY French manicure at home, but you do need some basic nail grooming essentials. Here’s our comprehensive list of all the things you’ll need!  

  • Nail polish remover
  • Emery or crystal nail file
  • Cotton pads and cotton swabs 
  • Cuticle pusher (optional) 
  • Warm water and soap 
  • Hand cream or cuticle oil
  • Hand scrub (optional) 
  • Clear base coat
  • Clear topcoat
  • Nude, pink, or colorful nail polish
  • White nail polish 
  • Thin synthetic brush (optional) 

1. Remove old polish

First, if you still have some remnants of old nail polish on your nails, make sure to scrub it away thoroughly with cotton pads and nail polish remover. Some colors tend to really get lodged along the edges of the nail, in which case, use a cotton swab dipped in remover to really get in there and clean things up. 

2. Shape your nails 

 Fingernail shape graphic chart

Next, file the tips of your nails to an even shape. There are all kinds of nail shapes you can choose from, but we prefer keeping it natural with an almond, oval, or rounded nail shape.

When you file your nails, only go in one direction at a time, rather than filing back and forth. Go slowly, so you can control the shape you create and don’t accidentally over-do it. 

3. At-home manicure soak

 Closeup of woman's hands soaking in bowl of waterIf you plan to trim or push back your cuticles, it’s crucial that you soften them first with an at-home manicure soak.

Fill up a shallow bowl of warm soapy water, and then dip your finger in, just up to the cuticle. Leave your fingers in the water for just 2-3 minutes, and take the moment to relax

This will be long enough to soften the cuticles but not so long that it’ll saturate your nails with water, which can compromise the integrity of your nail polish later on. If you’re happy with the condition of your cuticles, you can skip this step altogether! 

4. Push back the cuticles (gently!)

Pull your nails out of the water, and dry them with a soft towel. Then, use the cuticle pusher tool to gently press against your cuticles and push them back a little. If pushing on your cuticles is painful at all, it’s a sign you’re overdoing it, so make sure to ease up on the pressure. 

In general, we don’t recommend trimming the cuticles at home unless you already have a bit of professional experience. It’s easy to damage cuticles when trimming them, which may lead to infections or cause the skin to grow back thicker. 

5. Exfoliate and moisturize 

Closeup of woman applying protective cream on handsNext, it’s time to give your hands and cuticles a nice treatment! For maximum pampering, exfoliate your hands by rubbing them with a scrub. You can even make your own!

If your scrub is moisturizing enough, you can then just rinse your hands and move on to the next step. If you skipped scrubbing, then take a moment to rub your hands and nails with hand cream, or apply a designated cuticle oil to the nails. Wait a few minutes to allow your nails to absorb as much of the oil as possible. 

For simple groomed nails, you can stop here! Moisturized, well-shaped nails are already enough for simple French beauty. However, to take your nails to the next level, you’ll want to add some polish. 

6. Remove excess moisture

Next, dip a cotton swab in nail polish remover, and carefully wipe it only over your nail, being careful to avoid the cuticles. This will remove any excess moisture or oil from the nails to guarantee that the polish adheres well. Let the remover evaporate entirely before moving to the next step. 

7. Lay down your base coat

A base coat of polish is essential for protecting your nails from yellowing and creating an even base for the polish. Apply the base coat carefully to each nail, making sure to only use a minimal amount so that it dries quickly. 

8. Apply your color 

Woman applying nail polishOnce your base coat has thoroughly dried, you can apply your colorful nail polish! Pink, peach, and nude are the classic choices for a French manicure, but other colors are perfectly acceptable as well. 

Apply the polish in thin layers, starting about a millimeter away from the cuticle, and painting it on in strips. Once your first coat fully dries, apply the second coat, and wait for it to dry, as well.  

9. DIY nail tips 

Manicure nail paint with thin brushTurn your classic mani into an ultra-chic French manicure. Dip an old eyeliner brush or a dedicated nail brush into some white nail polish. Then, carefully paint the tips (i.e., top 2-3 millimeters) of your nails. If your hand is a little shaky, you can lay down some sticky tape over the bottom of the nail first to guarantee a clean line. 

10. Finish with a top-coat

Once your polish is totally dry, finish things off with an ultra-thin layer of topcoat. This will help seal in all of your hard work, add some sheen, and prevent your nail polish from chipping.

11. Clean up the edges 

Once your topcoat is fully dry, it’s time to fix mistakes! Even the pros sometimes smudge a bit of polish over the cuticle, but thankfully, it’s easy to clean up. Just soak a cotton swab in some nail polish remover and use it to erase any smudges. 

Nailed it!

Close-up of woman's hand with French manicure

It takes a bit of time and maybe even practice, but achieving the perfect manicure at home is totally doable. Don’t be afraid to skip the nail salon next time you want to treat yourself to a French manicure

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How to Have the Perfect Bath
April 25, 2021
How to Have the Perfect Bath

The best way to show yourself love is to take time out of your day and do something that is wholly and completely for you. A bath certainly counts! It feels divine as it relaxes the muscles and helps you unwind. It’s also a wonderful chance to pamper yourself with skin treatments, bath salts, and scented oils.  We’ve put together this guide to help you learn how to take a luxurious bath like no other. We’ll help you set up a relaxing bath routine, with tips on how to run the perfect bath temperature and advice as to what kind of accessories you’ll need to have a great time.  Even if you don’t have a bath, give this a read, ‘cause we cap things off with some relaxing shower tips. Dive in!  Set the scene Ambiance is everything, darling. Turn your bathroom into an environment where you can unwind. Instead of harsh electric light, opt for some scented candles, and queue up the dreamiest playlist. Any music or soundscape that helps you relax will do; you can try tree.fm’s forest soundscapes, some guided meditation, or even a spa playlist on Spotify. Perfect the temperature The question of how to run the perfect bath temperature is a tough one. On the one hand, you want the water to stay hot for as long as possible, but on the other hand, you still want it to be pleasant right from the start.  Filling up the bathtub can take a while, so turn on the tap early. Twist the tap to a position where it’s just a little hotter than you would normally shower or bathe in, but not cranked all the way up.  There is some debate as to what the ideal bath temperature is, but most of us don’t keep thermometers on hand to check the precise temperature, anyway. You’ll know you’ve landed on the correct temperature when you can dip your foot in the water and leave it in for 5 seconds without any issues.  Waterproof your entertainment A book or a TV-show can be pleasant bathtub companions, but bringing paper or tech devices into the water with you requires some planning. You can choose a cheap paperback, so it won’t be a great loss if it falls in, or simply waterproof your devices.  For the best luxury bubble baths, consider buying a waterproof case or even a waterproof device.  Consider a beverage  The next little treat for your relaxing bath routine is a beverage. Wine is the classic choice for a luxury bath, but don’t feel constrained. Tea, hot chocolate, and even juice are equally suitable companions.  If you do opt for an alcoholic beverage, make sure to also have some water on hand. It’s easy to get dehydrated or overheated in the bath, and alcohol will compound that, so staying hydrated is essential.  Start with a pre-bath rinse Before getting into the bath, rinse yourself off, especially if you’ve had a long and grueling day. If you have both a shower and a bath, you can do this while the bath is filling up! Otherwise, you can do this before starting to fill up the tub. Keep the water lukewarm, and soap yourself up quickly—there’s no need to go overboard.  A bath pillow is essential  Unfortunately, even the most luxurious bathtubs are designed out of rock-hard porcelain, so resting your head on the lip of the tub isn’t the most comfortable. You can fold-up a small towel to cushion your head as you lie back, but if you really want to take your bathing experience to the next level, purchase a dedicated waterproof bath pillow.  Consider your bath additives There are a few lovely options for additives that you can add to your bathtub. Luxury bubble baths can be a lot of fun, but the detergent-laden blends aren’t great for the skin, so here’s what we recommend.  Natural bath bombs are amazing because they fizz, sparkle, and smell gorgeous. It’s even better if you learn how to make your own! Epsom salts can be a simple, affordable addition that’ll help your muscles unwind.  To nourish your skin, pour in some bath oil or even just a spoonful of coconut oil. Just remember that oil will make the bathtub a little slippery when it’s time to get out.  Finally, a few drops of your favorite essential oil will turn the entire bath into an excellent aromatherapy experience. Be sure to always be mindful of what oils you allow to come in contact with your skin and always test on a small area of your body before putting anything in the tub.  Enjoy a skin treatment  How can you take a luxurious bath without adding in some face treatments? We don’t think it’s possible. Steamy bath time is ideal for face treatments! You’ll have time to lie back while the added steam helps nourishing ingredients penetrate into the skin. Try a purifying clay mask, apply a Korean sheet mask, or go with your favorite facial skincare treatment! Guarantee a cozy finish  Eventually, even if you’ve run the perfect bath temperature or put on your favorite soundtrack, you’ll still need to get out of the bathtub. Don’t let the luxurious experience end in disappointment with a scratchy, threadbare towel. Instead, prepare your fluffiest towel or bathrobe well in advance, so you can feel pampered right up until the end.  What if you don’t have a bathtub? Unfortunately, not every home is fitted with a bathtub, especially if you live in a big city apartment. We’ve gathered some tips so you can have a relaxing shower, instead.  While it might be hard to enjoy candles through the shower curtain, you can still dim the lights for a calming environment.  Waterproof Bluetooth speakers will allow you to enjoy some music despite the noise of the showerhead.  It’s harder to relax when you’re standing upright, so consider placing a plastic stool in your shower, so you can sit back under the warm spray.  While bath oils or salts won’t work in the shower, you can pamper your skin with an exfoliating salt and oil scrub.  Placing a bath bomb by the shower drain will create just as dramatic an aromatherapy experience as it does in the bath. As the warm water melts it away, it will release the fragrance, enveloping you in relaxation.  And off to bed  After a relaxing shower or a luxury bubble bath, you’ll be ready for bed! The bath routine is designed to promote calmness and relaxation. It’s ideal to save the pampering for the end of the day when you need to unwind. By the time your bath is over, you’ll want nothing more than to sleep deeply and soundly. Bonne nuit!  

The Five-Piece French Wardrobe, Explained
April 20, 2021
The Five-Piece French Wardrobe, Explained

Have you heard of the 5-Piece French wardrobe?  This is not just any wardrobe. It’s the secret to attaining that effortlessly chic Paris style we all swoon over. Plus, it’s the best way to build a capsule wardrobe that is both fun and functional, and helps you get the most out of every piece you purchase.  Have you ever woken up in the morning, stared at a huge closet packed with clothes, and thought, “I’ve got nothing to wear?!” Do you keep buying more stuff each season, and need a way to curb those bank-draining spending habits? If you find yourself nodding your head, this French wardrobe philosophy might be a match made in heaven for you.  Don’t panic over the whole “five-piece” scenario. It’s not a wardrobe built of just five pieces—that would be crazy.    All will be revealed in this article. The ins and outs of a five-piece French wardrobe Minimalist French style is all about investing in fewer pieces that are higher in quality, and will hopefully last you a long time. It’s focused on longevity rather than trends. And this is exactly where this French wardrobe philosophy stems from.  There isn’t a set number of pieces or a timetable to follow.  To start, you build a solid collection of basic pieces. Things like plain t-shirts, black tailored pants, and a classic white shirt—simple items that can be mixed and matched with everything in your wardrobe. If you find any gaps, fill these in with new staples.  Each season (four times per year), you’re allowed to purchase 5 new investment pieces to help you build your collection. These should be non-basic pieces. You can take as much time as you like choosing these—there’s no rush! The point of this is to refresh your look with each passing season, but to also focus on investing in pieces you truly love and will wear for years to come.  Five might not sound like much, but trust us on this one; coupled with your trusty basics, this will give you endless outfit combos that will embody that French I-just-woke-up-like-this look. The rules: The 5-piece French wardrobe can be a little tricky to understand at first. So, here are some of the rules you need to know before you get started. Basics don’t count towards your five pieces, and can always be replaced. Makeup doesn’t count. Accessories, socks, and underwear don’t count (unless they’re particularly pricey purchases.) Shoes do count. And everything else that’s not mentioned above counts.  How to get started creating your 5-piece French wardrobe The secret to rolling out of bed and looking like one of those impeccably dressed French women you see on Instagram is focusing on fit.  The reason these women look so good in simple clothing like jeans and a plain white tee is because of the fit. They wear flattering cuts and silhouettes. Instead of following the trends, they stick to what works for their unique shape.  So the message is, it’s not what you buy, it’s how it fits you. Remember, you’ll only be purchasing 20 new non-basic items each year, so choose wisely.  Out with the old Get started by clearing out your wardrobe. Donate anything that no longer fits you, or that you haven’t worn in the past year. Chances are if you haven’t worn it by now, you never will! Hold on to any basics that fit you well, and part ways with the rest. Be ruthless through this process.  If you notice any gaps, make a list of what you need and start shopping. Don’t rush to buy everything at once. Take your time, be considerate, and choose quality items that feel good against your skin. Because when you feel good, you will look good.   Back to basics We touched on basic pieces a little earlier, but what exactly is a “basic” item of clothing?  Generally, it’s a functional piece of clothing that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on. Basics will generally be plain or block colored, practical, and go with those fancier, statement pieces in your wardrobe.  French outfit essentials: Items every woman should have in her wardrobe Here are some of the pieces you should think about stocking up on to make sure your wardrobe game is on fire.  Tops: block colored t-shirts, button-up white shirts, silk camis. Pants: well-fitting straight-leg jeans, tailored pants Skirts: pencil skirt, white linen skirt, block colored mini skirts Dresses: a little black dress Shorts: jean shorts, linen shorts Sweaters: cashmere sweaters, oversized wool sweaters, cozy cardigans Outerwear: a trench coat, a classic blazer, a leather jacket Shoes: ballet pumps, brown/black heeled boots, sandals, court shoes. Make your shopping list for this season. The great thing about the 5-piece French wardrobe is that each season you get to make a wish list of things you want to add to your collection. What have you had your eye on for a while? What are you noticeably missing right now that would take your wardrobe to the next level? Set yourself a reasonable budget each season for your 5 pieces. It’s okay to spend more on these items than you usually would, because the focus is on quality pieces that last longer. So don’t scrimp, but don’t blow more than you can afford. And that’s how to create a 5-piece French wardrobe! The only other rule is to have fun creating your capsule collection. It won’t be long before you have a beautifully sustainable and ethical wardrobe that makes getting dressed each morning a joy. Why not use these principles and apply them to your other purchases too?  For example, focus on investing in good makeup: a quality mascara, a classic red lipstick, and the perfect shade and texture of foundation for your skin.  Follow these steps, and you’ll be Paris-ready in no time.

The Best Makeup Gifts to Give to a Friend
April 09, 2021
The Best Makeup Gifts to Give to a Friend

If you have a friend or loved one who loves makeup, it only makes sense to buy them a makeup gift. The best gift is one that’ll be used, after all.  When buying gifts for makeup lovers, you still have to put a bit of thought into your purchase. Some products, like foundations and concealers, require very precise color matching, so they can’t be bought on a whim. That’s why we’ve put together this gift guide with the best makeup products to give as gifts, whether for small occasions or for bigger celebrations.  We’ve put together a range of beauty gift ideas, including simple crowd-pleasers and thoughtful bundles. With the help of our list, we know that your friend will love what you give her!  Vivienne Sabó Mascara Mascara is a universal makeup gift that’s always appreciated. It’s an unskippable part of every makeup routine, but it’s also one of those products that have to be replaced frequently, so you know that your gift will serve its purpose. There is zero chance that it will sit in the makeup drawer unused!  When choosing the best mascara for your friend, consider her tastes. Is she the kind of person who leads an active life and needs waterproof mascara? Maybe she likes a dramatic look, in which case our Provocation mascara will give her lashes instant volume. On the other hand, if she keeps things subtle but defined, the Cabaret Première is a classic choice that keeps the lashes full yet separated.  You can even give her a mascara gift set with a few different options, so she can customize her look based on her needs for any specific day.  Matte Constance Lipstick Lipstick is the kind of beauty gift that requires a bit more consideration, but it also means that it can be very thoughtful. If you just pick a color at random, chances are your gift may not land too well. However, if you make sure to select a lipstick that will suit your friend’s personality and aesthetic, nothing could make her happier. If she has a more natural, polished style, then a nude lipstick will work best, while if she’s a classic beauty with a fiery side, opt for a red.  If you’re still not sure, check out our guide to the meaning behind different lipstick colors, which will surely point you in the right direction.  Feutre Fin Eyeliner   Like mascara, eyeliner is another staple that gets used up with some regularity and needs replacing fairly often. Whether liquid liner is one of your friend’s staple looks or it’s something she’s still working to perfect, the Vivienne Sabó Feutre Fin eyeliner is a wonderful makeup gift. It offers the precision that makeup lovers crave but it’s easy to use so even those new to makeup will quickly get the hang of it.  Brow Arcade Eyebrow Pencil Eyebrow pencils might not be as glamorous as mascara or lipstick, but they’re still an important part of the makeup routine. For that very reason, the Brow Arcade certainly deserves a spot on our list of makeup gifts for her.  We think it works best as a gift for a friend that is very pragmatic and doesn’t care about sentimentality as much. It’s a good makeup gift that she’ll be sure to use. Just make sure to select a shade that’s a touch lighter than her hair color but with the same undertone.  Le Grand Volume Lip Gloss   Lip gloss is perfect for days out with its fun and playful look, making it an excellent summertime gift! And if you have a younger friend or family member with a playful style or who’s a little newer to makeup, lip gloss makes for the best makeup gift. It doesn’t have the intensity or maturity of lipstick. Instead, it gives the lips a youthful sheen without much color, so it’s the kind of makeup product that parents will also approve of easily.  Cabaret Première Mascara Primer  What do you give to makeup lovers that seem to own everything already? We think the Cabaret Première primer is a great choice, especially for lash enthusiasts. A lash primer helps to build a base layer of length and volume, so the lashes look extra dramatic. Most importantly, it’s the one product your friend probably doesn’t have in her arsenal yet!  Makeup gift bundle   Individual items work well as “just because” gifts for makeup lovers. However, when there’s a special occasion and you need to impress, a large, customized makeup gift set can be a wonderful gift. The key to creating a gorgeous beauty bundle is to pair products that make sense together.  For an eye-focus, put together a set of eyeliner, mascara, mascara primer, and maybe even an eyebrow pencil.   For a lip set, give your dear friend lipstick, gloss, and lip liner.  You can also customize a French beauty set with beloved staples, like red lipstick, a liquid eyeliner, and volumizing mascara.  Make sure to package everything nicely, and even consider putting it all in a makeup bag, which will become another part of the gift.  Makeup subscription A makeup subscription is one of the best makeup gifts we can think of, which is why we’ve saved it for last. It’s particularly useful if you’d like to give something to a friend who lives far away and that you don’t get to see often.  Pick a product that you know is a staple for them, like mascara, eyeliner, or brow pencil. Then, set up a subscription where they can receive a new package every few months, depending on how often they go through the specific item.  A subscription beauty gift will remind them of you periodically and cheer them up if they’re going through a hard time. That’s one of the reasons why we have this option available for all Vivienne Sabó products. L'art de faire un cadeau  In France, l'art de faire un cadeau  (the art of giving a gift) is cherished. The best gifts are personal and thoughtful. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to give something meaningful—you just need to consider the person to whom you’re giving a gift.  For that friend who loves makeup, a thoughtful beauty gift is an easy choice that will show them that you know and love them.