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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 Get the Sexiest Smokey Eye Look Ever
March 19, 2021
How to Get the Sexiest Smokey Eye Look Ever

Smokey eye makeup is up there with the most popular makeup looks of all time. One quick search for a smokey eye tutorial will field millions of how-tos in seconds. And for good reason. A smokey eye is sexy, sophisticated and the perfect makeup look for any party or celebration. And although it may seem complicated, when you know what to do, you’ll find it’s pretty simple.  That’s why we’ve put together this simple guide on how to get the sexiest smokey eye step by step. It should take around ten to fifteen minutes to complete, but a little longer if you’re a newbie. Remember, the more you practice your technique, the better the result.  So what are we waiting for? Let’s dive in.  Here’s what you’ll need to get started: Eyeshadow base (primer) Dark-colored kohl eyeliner Lighter eyeshadow (pearl or creams work well) Darker eyeshadow (see color recommendations below) Eyeshadow brush (a couple if possible, but you can wash between uses) Eyelash curler Mascara Which color should I go for? If you’re after a deep smokey eye then opt for a rich, matter color in black, brown, or deep gray. These colors will create an edgier look and make a bolder statement.  If you’re looking for a more natural smokey eye, choose something less harsh, like a plum color. For a jeweled tone, purples, blues, and greens are striking. You can also use a shimmery eyeshadow if you like, for extra sparkle. Don’t do any other makeup before your smokey eye  You might think that applying your foundation and concealer before working on your eyes is the natural thing to do. But the pros apply eye makeup first.  Why? Because no matter how careful you are, there are bound to be flecks of eyeshadow powder and mascara that fall down your face.  If you’ve already done the rest of your makeup, then you’ll have to touch it up. It’s much easier to fix mistakes like this without a full face of makeup.  So no matter how much you want to apply other makeup first, don’t do it! Trust us on this one.  Prime your eyelids Not everyone does, but if you have shiny lids, priming your eyelids first is a must. Without it, your eye makeup is bound to melt and smudge all over the place. And nobody wants that.  Primer will create a solid foundation for any layers of eyeshadow you apply on top and will help you build color that lasts. Plus, it will prevent it from creasing. Use a brush or cotton pad to sweep it over both lids. Leave it to dry before starting your smokey eye makeup. Begin with a kohl eyeliner Start with a kohl eyeliner as a base. This is what will anchor your eyeshadow, and keep it on all night. We recommend picking the same color as the eyeshadow you’re using, but feel free to mix things up and experiment with color combos. Concentrate the eyeliner on the inner and outer corners of your upper lid, leaving the space in the middle bare. Use a brush to blend this across your upper lash line. This is how you begin creating that smoldering, sexy look, and it stops it from looking too intense.  Next, use the same eyeliner on your lower lash line, blending it out with the same brush as before.  Apply a light base color Every smokey eye look tutorial will recommend contrasting a light eyeshadow with a dark one. This adds to the smokiness.  Using a clean brush (or washing the previous one), sweep the lighter color across the eyelid, following along to the brow bone. This is how you create the shadow for your smokey eye.   Apply dark eyeshadow Next, grab your chosen darker eyeshadow color, and apply to the eyelid with a clean brush. Use enough to coat the color on your lid, but make sure you stop below the brow bone this time.  Once you’re done, blend the color into your upper lash line (where the eyeliner is) as well as into the line between the dark and light shadow. Use a clean brush to do this, working small circular movements.  The most important thing when creating a smokey eye makeup look is to avoid harsh lines, and to blend... and blend again.  When you think you’re done, take a step back and check both eyes for symmetry. You’re looking for an even blend on both eyes.  Curl the eyelashes The next step is to use an eyelash curler to give your lashes a sexy curve. Heat it with a hairdryer for ten seconds, and test it on the back of your hand before putting it near your face. Hold the curler for 10 seconds on each eye.   Complete the look with a swoosh of mascara To complete your smokey eye, finish with as much or as little mascara as you like. If you’re going for a bolder look, amp up the volume here. If you’re going for a natural smokey eye, then stick to one or two layers.  We love our Classic French Mascara for voluminous lashes in just one coat. Start at the root of your upper lashes, and wiggle up to build length and volume. You can apply mascara to your lower lashes too, but keep it to a minimum to avoid a spidery look.  And that is your complete smokey eye look tutorial!  Remember: Let your smokey eye makeup stand out Even if you’ve opted for a natural smokey eye, it’s still a strong look. And you want it to stand out. So keep the rest of your makeup to a minimum, and stick to neutral colors.  A little bronzer, a neutral blush, and a nude lip will complete the look, but your eyes will remain the star of the show.   And that’s it! We now pronounce you ready to create the sexiest smokey eye look ever.    

Bad Makeup Habits that You Need to Stop Having
March 12, 2021
Bad Makeup Habits that You Need to Stop Having

You’re getting ready for your day. You look in the bathroom mirror at tired eyes and blemishes near your nose. As you apply your cosmetics, your face transforms into a bright-eyed, flawless masterpiece. Using makeup is a fun way to express yourself. When used correctly, it helps enhance your natural beauty and boost your confidence. When misused, it can do the opposite. We will be going over some bad makeup habits that may be causing skin damage and why you need to get rid of them today. Here are some makeup habits you need to stop having Pumping mascara wand Chances are, you or someone you know puts on mascara by pumping the wand back and forth in the tube. It makes sense to think you’re getting an even coat to apply to your lashes. But this is one of the worst makeup habits for applying mascara. The problem with pumping the wand in and out is that you’re also pumping in air.  Pumping air into the tube limits the lifespan of your product by making it dry out faster. It can also cause flakiness and clumping, leading to uneven lashes.   Instead of pumping the wand, the best way to use mascara is by gently circling the wand inside the tube. Sleeping with makeup on Makeup covers the skin to make it look beautiful and smooth. But sleeping with makeup on can suffocate your skin, causing clogged pores by trapping dirt and oils into your skin. This can lead to dry, dull-looking skin. Skipping moisturizer Moisturizer is one of the most essential products for your skin. It keeps your skin young and fresh and aids in a flawless makeup application. If you don’t have time to apply makeup, make sure you still moisturize. What happens when you skip this step? If it’s not often, it’s fine. But over time, it can lead to dryness, wrinkling, and premature aging. When you apply foundation and other products, your skin can become flakey, causing the makeup to be less effective. If you want a flawless complexion, you can’t skip moisturizer. Not cleaning your brushes Makeup brushes are great at giving a clean and blended makeup application. But people forget that they need to be cleaned. When you don’t clean your brushes, they can breed bacteria, causing issues like dry skin and itchiness. Brushes should be cleaned at least once a week to avoid the buildup of debris and oils. Wearing too much makeup Wearing cosmetics is a great way to feel beautiful, but it’s best done in moderation. It can be easy to put too much on your face or to apply it too often.   Your face needs to breathe and needs at least one day a week without makeup. Caking on too much foundation or never letting your skin breathe can lead to skin damage. This includes clogged pores, dry and dull-looking skin. When you notice new blemishes, you’re probably tempted to cover them up with foundation. The best thing you can do is let it breathe for a while and make sure your makeup habits aren’t causing them. Wearing makeup isn’t a bad thing. But one just needs to make sure that it is not becoming a habit of hiding the real skin underneath.  - Aakanksha Singh Using expired product Have you ever looked through your makeup bag and noticed a cosmetic that’s a few years old? You might not have used it as much as you thought you would and may be surprised to see it still looks ok. You may be tempted to use it and get your money’s worth. This isn’t a good idea because using makeup products beyond a certain amount of time isn’t always safe.   Old products can breed bacteria, causing acne and clogged pores if used on your skin.  And if it’s been long enough, it may even be dry and flakey or dull in color. It’s best to simply start over with fresh product. One bad habit often spoils a dozen good ones.  - Napoleon Hill What will these bad makeup habits do? Bad beauty habits may seem like no big deal. So you don’t clean your brushes every week, and you sleep with makeup on sometimes. Not a problem, right? The truth is, these makeup habits can lead to serious skin damage. Forgetting once in a while is fine, but more than a few times a week can lead to the problems below. Clogged pores Have you ever had a rough week and then noticed new blemishes on your skin? This is likely the result of clogged pores. Pores are tiny openings where microscopic particles can pass through, allowing products like makeup and lotion to settle in your skin.   Because your skin has pores, it needs to be able to breathe. When bad beauty habits occur, it can suffocate them, causing them to clog up. This will often lead to oily skin, acne, and wrinkles. Wrinkles and premature aging When you think of wrinkles and premature aging, it’s easy to assume that as long as you don’t smoke or stay too long in the sun, you’ll be fine. Unfortunately, bad makeup habits can also cause these issues. Sleeping with your makeup on can cause stress to your skin and particles to get trapped in your pores.  Permanent skin damage Some bad beauty habits can cause permanent skin damage. The good news is that a lot of skin damage can be reversed with the development of good habits. But take care, not all makeup tips are created equally. Make sure to thoroughly research and understand any new practice before adding it to your daily makeup routine.  Shorter lifespan of cosmetics It’s no secret that cosmetics are expensive. Looking your best isn’t cheap, so you don’t want your products going bad before you’ve had a chance to use them.  In order to prevent product from drying up or becoming clumpy, it’s important to treat your cosmetics carefully and use them correctly. Here are some makeup tips to help form good habits Micellar water  Micellar water is a type of facial cleanser made with water and micelles. Micelles are cleansing molecules that can lift impurities, makeup, and dirt off your face.   What makes this product unique is it doesn’t take moisture out of your face, the way a lot of facial cleansers do. It’s also suitable for any skin type, even sensitive skin.   To use Micellar Water, simply apply some with a cotton pad, wiping your face like you would with a towelette. The best part? You don’t need to rinse it off. If you find yourself sleeping with your makeup on because you’re too tired to take it off, this product is a great beauty habit to form. Just apply it and fall asleep. You can even use it to clean your makeup brushes. Just put some in a container and twirl your brushes around to remove any makeup and debris. Then, allow it to air dry.   A change in bad habits leads to a change in life. - Jenny Craig Keep moisturizer and wipes by your bed Some days you are too exhausted to do a deep clean on your face. We get it, many of us lead demanding lives with long days. But bad beauty habits open doors to negative side effects. If you don’t have the energy to do a full facial cleanse, at least take your makeup off. Do you have a nightstand? If so, keep some moisturizer, and makeup removal wipes there. It’ll only take a minute to wipe the makeup off your face and apply a layer of moisturizer before falling asleep. Your skin will thank you.    Rotate cosmetics often It’s not enough to take your makeup off each night so your skin can breathe. It’s important to make sure the products you use are still functional. Expired products can not only cause skin damage by exposing it to bacteria, but it can also look flakey and dull. It’s not worth it. Look up the lifespan of the makeup and skincare products you have to get an idea of what is still good to use. Some products have a two-year shelf life. Others, such as some eye cosmetics, need to be rotated every three months. Make sure you replace your products as needed, and if you find yourself not using it up in time, consider buying a smaller amount. Do you often forget when you bought your products? Next time, get some stickers and label them with the date you purchased the product and how long they’ll be good for.     Makeup plays an important role in helping women feel beautiful. Good makeup habits help ensure clear, smooth, and beautiful skin for a long time.     What bad makeup habits do you need to change?   Share this article, and let us know which one you’re going to change first.

Queen’s Gambit Makeup and Fashion
March 03, 2021
Queen’s Gambit Makeup and Fashion

Netflix launched a limited series in October called The Queen’s Gambit, and we are obsessed with the hair, makeup, and fashion! The show is based on Walter Tevis’ novel, and tells the story of chess genius, Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy). We share her highs, lows, addictions, successes, and everything in between.  But if there’s one thing we can't get enough of it’s her impeccable ‘50s & ‘60s inspired style. Beth finds herself in a field dominated by men wearing classic white shirts paired with thick-framed glasses. Suddenly, she’s a style icon, managing to seamlessly blend the starkly contrasting chess and fashion worlds together.  Here are some of the most iconic looks from the show.  Classic Makeup Beth Harmon’s makeup follows a natural evolution throughout the show, as she grows up and finds her own unique sense of style. Her signature look is usually ‘60s inspired with perfect winged eyeliner and a bold lip. We all know how difficult it is to get those wings right, which is why Beth’s makeup has us mesmerized. There’s only one moment where she veers away from this classic look and channels a wild child style.  Insider secret: The Queen's Gambit makeup artists had to go against their natural urges and apply her makeup badly on purpose for these scenes! Get Beth’s Classic ‘60s Look: Use a black liquid eyeliner to perfect those wings (we’ve got a step-by-step guide for you below).   Apply some classic French mascara for a natural, feminine look.  Try our long-lasting matte lipstick in your favorite shade to complete the look.  Bold Bangs A younger Beth models some of the boldest cropped bangs we’ve ever seen. A little harsh on the eye, but very common for children in orphanages at the time. Every child would get the same cut because it was practical and easy to manage.  Although the look is severe, there’s a soft charm to it that draws you in. While it’s not for everybody, this hairstyle combined with the fiery red color creates a real statement look.  Tea-length Dress In the show, the first item of clothing Beth is able to buy with her own money is a checked, tea-length dress. It’s full-skirted, totally retro, and oh-so feminine.  If you’re looking for one of these dresses, the best place to head is your local vintage shop. You can pair it over a blouse like Beth does, or wear it on its own and show a little more skin. Throw a modern sweater or jacket on top for an eclectic look.  Embrace Straight Lines The ‘50s were all about the hourglass figure, with Christian Dior popularizing the “New Look” for women. But the ‘60s saw a backlash with anti-hourglass silhouettes being most desired.  Think straight-cut dresses, jackets, and sweaters. While it's not inherently feminine, this silhouette can be oh-so-flattering. Beth shows us this with her simple-yet-stylish mini dresses. Queen's Gambit Makeup: Perfect Winged Eyeliner If there’s one thing Beth is famous for, it’s wearing winged eyeliner throughout the Queen's Gambit. But how do you get this look? First thing’s first, you’ll need a black liquid eyeliner with a fine point. If you’re new to this, use the dot to dot approach by marking out the line of the wing you want to create. The goal here is to go upwards and outwards. Check you’re happy with the symmetry on both eyes, then lightly connect the dots.  Leave it to dry before adding voluminous mascara to your lashes for a glamorous ‘60s look.  And if you really struggle to keep a steady hand, you can try a winged eyeliner stamp to help you. Chessboard Chic Taking inspiration from Edie Sedgwick, Jean Seberg, and Pierre Cardin, Beth dazzles in outfits filled with striking geometric patterns, subtly mirroring the chessboard. A whopping 12 of her on-screen outfits feature geometric print! A simple, sleeveless checkered dress and square printed shirt were standout looks. Beth’s style is fitting for the time, yet filled with her desire to break out of the box and find her own way.  To recreate this look, choose one item of clothing to work the geometric pattern in, and keep everything else simple. You don’t want to look like a walking chessboard!  Monochrome Magic As a further nod to her deep love of chess, we see Beth in a multitude of monochrome outfits.  Her black and white shift dress was perhaps the most striking black and white outfit of all. So elegant and sophisticated, but with a cheeky element of fun thrown in.   Black and white are timeless and will never go out of style. You can go all black, all white, or mix and match as you like! Luxe Loungewear Even when she’s relaxing on the sofa at home, Anya Taylor-Joy’s character looks effortlessly chic.  Think pale blue cashmere PJs, a dusty pink cardigan, soft cozy sweaters, and plain black slacks. Each piece can be worked into her going out wardrobe, taking her from night to day. To get Beth’s luxe lounge look, go for pieces that are multi-functional. Think practical, comfy, and pretty.  If only we could look this good vegging out on the sofa! Vintage Accessories Aside from geo patterns and monochrome colors, you can count on Beth to be rocking a Peter Pan collar or a silk scarf.  The round collar features everywhere: from dresses all the way to a buttoned vest. It’s a lovely feminine style with a vintage nod.  When it comes to scarves, Beth often ties them around her head, but they work just as well around the neck to brighten up any outfit.  The Final Episode: Classic 1950s And '60s Makeup We couldn’t do a roundup of the Queen's Gambit makeup and fashion without mentioning Beth’s iconic all-white look in the final episode.  This is the most confident and feminine Beth looks throughout the entire season—proving that you don’t have to choose one or the other. Her hair is sleek to create a more mature, sophisticated look, and her classic ‘60s makeup is immaculate. Her red lips look striking against her white coat and hat, and she looks super sexy.    We didn’t want the show to end. But if it had to, we’re glad Beth went out looking like this.       All Images are property of Netflix