How to do a reverse french manicure?

Reverse French or “half-moon” manicures are having a major moment. They were all over the runways at NYFW, and celebrities like Shay Mitchell, Lauren Conrad, and both Jenner sisters have been Instagramming their own takes on the trend!

As far as nail art goes, this color-blocked look is way easier than it looks! All you need are some binder reinforcements (you know, the little circular stickers that go over the holes on your papers so they don’t tear), and two of your favorite polishes.

Check out the easy step-by-step tutorial below to DIY your own half-moon mani.

Kara McGrath/Seventeen

1. After you prep your nails, paint two coats of the color that you want to show near your cuticle. (The glittery polish I used is Deborah Lippmann “West End Wonderland.”) Wait for it to dry—like, REALLY wait for it to dry completely. Otherwise, the polish will peel off with the stickers! Place a binder reinforcement on the lower third of each nail, making sure to keep the curve centered.

2. Paint two coats of the other polish (in my case, Nordstom’s “Insomnia”) on top. Don’t worry about getting a little on the stickers—as long as it doesn’t drip down into the hole, the reinforcements will act as a stencil!

3. Let the polish dry for a few seconds, so it gets a little tacky but doesn’t harden completely. Gently peel off the stickers in one motion. (Personally, I like using glitter for the bottom part, since it makes for easy touchups if a little polish comes off during this step!)

And that’s it! Super simple, and the lines are so crisp that your friends will think a pro did your mani!

Planning to give the half moon mani a try? Tweet @seventeenmag a photo of the final product!

Tutorial: Embellished Reverse French Manicure

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

This Reverse French manicure with gold embellishments is a great evening look. Plus, it’s very easy to do and there’s plenty of room for experimentation! For instance, you can use any other colours you like, as long as they are contrasting enough, and if you’re not a fan of embellished tips, you can do embellished half moons 🙂

Now without further ado, let’s see the how to!


1. Paint all nails with dark blue nail polish and wait for 5 – 10 minutes for it to dry.

2. Add light blue details at the tip of each nail using nail polish brush. Wait 5 minutes more for your base to dry. While waiting clean up any polish application mistakes with angular brush, if needed.

3. Measure the Droplet nail stickers to decide which one you will use to suit your nails. Slightly larger is ok as you can trim it.

4. Using tweezers pick up the stickers and apply them on all nails.

5. Use silicone tool to smooth the surface of stickers and get rid of any bubbles underneath.

6. If required, use cuticle cutters to trim the edges to make sure the gold stickers are not sticking out beyond the painted part of each nail. Then apply 2 coats of high gloss top coat. You can leave it glossy or add 1 coat of a matte top coat for a velvety look.


  • Kester Black Cumulus – light blue
  • Kester Black Bleu – navy blue
  • 3D Droplets gold nail stickers
  • SN silicone tool
  • SN 04 Slayer angular nail brush – for clean up
  • Mavala Gel Finish top coat
  • Mavala Matte top coat

With party season just around the corner, this embellished Reverse French manicure idea surely will come handy. I think it would also look great done in a classic black and white combo 😉

Now, over to you!

How do you like this idea and \what colour combination would you use for this kind of French manicure?

– Maria, xx

P.S. If you try this Reverse French manicure, I would love to see it! Tweet or Instagram me @So_Nailicious your manicure with a tag #sonailicious.


  • French manicure with a twist
  • Sideways French
  • Outlined Half Moon manicure – tutorial

Did you enjoy this post?
Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter or follow us via Bloglovin for daily updates.

Last month, Lauren Conrad took the classic and popular french manicure and turned it on its head — literally — by rocking a reverse french mani and showing off her engagement ring. Immediately it became a hot fashion trend that women across the country and dying to try. But what is a reverse French manicure? And how should you wear it this holiday season?

What is a Reverse French Manicure?

For years the French manicure has been a staple of nail salons across the country. The stylist starts with a white base coat and then covers over it with a light pink or neutral colored top coat, leaving only the top of the nail exposed. This creates the illusion of white half-moons long the top while the rest of the nail is plain.

The reverse mani follows the same application steps, except the bottom of the nail is exposed and the top is covered. This creates the impression of half-moons (or little curves) along the nail bed while the top is a solid color.

How Stylists are Getting Creative With It

While the original purpose of the French manicure might have been to give the impression of perfectly rounded white tips, the reverse French mani allows the wearer to get creative. In fact, the only rule is that the two colors contrast each other enough so you can clearly see the difference between the two.

This has lead to stylists painting black moons underneath a coat of light pink, or gold moon underneath hot red nails. To jump on other fall trends, consider a gold base coat with a dark purple top coat for a royal look along your nails.

Making the Reverse French Manicure Your Own

If you’re feeling really experimental and want to buck the French manicure trend entirely, play with shapes and sizes of the half-moon to turn your nails into statement pieces. Some ladies are opting for triangles at the base of their nails or creating dramatic swooshes that reveal the bottom coat up the side of the nail. Fashion is all about embracing trends and tweaking them in your own way, so you can do just about anything with this look as long as you’re working with two different coats.

If you want to rock a reverse French manicure the way Lauren Conrad does this holiday season, make an appointment with our manicurist today.

Image provided by Thinkstock

The half-moon manicure is a look that’s popping up everywhere from celebrity-packed runways and red carpets to regular, everyday locales like schools and offices. Simply put, a half-moon manicure is a nail art design that features two contrasting shades of polish, one at the base and one at the tips, almost like a reversed French manicure. Easy to dress up or down, this versatile type of manicure can come across as bold and daring, or simple and subdued, depending on the polish shades you decide to integrate into its design.

While the look seems easy to pull off, it does require some precision and patience. Here are some foolproof instructions for a DIY half-moon manicure that you can try on your own:

  1. One of the biggest mistakes that DIY manicure novices make is to think about filing and shaping their nails after they have already applied color. No matter what type of manicure you’re giving yourself, it’s important to cut, file, shape, and clean nails before you even think about touching any colors.
  2. Entirely coat each nail with the color you wish to have on the lower half/base of your manicure. Allow the polish to fully dry before moving on to the next step.
  3. Remember those little white paper reinforcements that you used to stock up on at the beginning of every school year? You probably thought you would never buy them again now that you no longer tote around three-ring binders filled with loose-leaf paper, but think again. Not only did they do a great job of mending your ripped papers back when you were in middle school, but these little circles also work well as templates/guides when outfitting your nails with a half-moon manicure. Securely fasten a paper reinforcement to each nail’s base so that it creates a half-moon that takes up about 25-40% of the nail, depending on your preference.
  4. Paint the upper section of the nail with another shade, removing each reinforcement after you do so. Don’t worry about waiting for the polish to dry before removal.
  5. Once your second color has dried, apply a clear topcoat to seal the design.

Helpful Tip: If you plan on leaving one section of your half-moon manicure bare/unpolished, the process will differ slightly. Apply the paper reinforcements to the base of each unpolished nail, painting the top section with the color of your choice. Remove each reinforcement, and once the color has dried, seal with a clear topcoat.

Now that you’ve mastered the process, check out these lovely inspiration photos for fun variations on a basic half-moon manicure. There’s something here for everyone, whether you’re looking for a bold “show stopper” or a look that’s a little more ordinary:

Image Source: Bellasugar.com

Forget a hunky date or extravagant jewels! A classy half-moon manicure in nude and white is the perfect red carpet accessory for an A-list actress like Rachel McAdams, but it’s also simple enough to work in your everyday life.

Image Source: Kara of Sprinkles in Springs

WARNING: This next design may lead to excessive sugar consumption! Visually inspired by pastel macaroon cookies, this sweet multi-color design is the perfect choice for those who love the look of a half-moon manicure but may have a difficult time selecting just one or two shades.

Image Source: Instagram.com/ddlovato

Demi Lovato’s fans may worship her for her undeniable singing and acting talents, but her rock star manicures have also garnered her plenty of followers on Instagram. Ms. Lovato herself posted this snapshot on her Instagram account before recently performing on LIVE with Kelly and Michael! While the black and white design oozes with edginess, it also looks polished and put-together.

Image Source: Madison of Nails and Riffs

There’s simply nothing more glamorous than glitter. There’s no greater proof of that idea than this matte-finish, metallic half moon manicure, which packs more shimmer than we believed to be physically possible.

Image Source: Naseya of The Seventh District

If you’re looking for just a hint of glitter in your half-moon manicure, slick your nails with a bold coral gel polish and use a guide/template to control your sprinkling of loose gold glitter at the base of each nail.

Image Source: Jess of Nearly Natural Nails

Whether you’re a master hunter or a military wife/girlfriend, there’s no need to let the boys have all the fun with camouflage prints! You’ll need to coat the top half of your nails with a mint-hued polish and layer on a variety of greens with a dotting tool to pull off this marbled look. For the base of the nail, use a neon orange polish.

Image Source: Ivana of Ivana Thinks Pink

Hardcore rocker chick meets Barbie girl, this half-moon manicure is ideal for those punk princesses who want to show off contrasting sides to their personalities with their nail art.

Image Source: Nona of Dotty About Nails

This manicure is made for those who want all eyes on them. Easier to execute than it may look, this creative design is simply a black and white half-moon manicure with an eyeball drawn onto the base of each nail with a fine brush.

Image Source: Lucy of Lucy’s Stash

Why stick to two solid shades when you can use your nails as the perfect canvas to outlet your creativity? This design consists of a pink and white half-moon manicure, with a gorgeous black tulip painted onto each nail’s base with a thin brush.

Image Source: Goose of Goose’s Glitter

This half-moon manicure pops with bold colors and playful polka dots, providing physical proof that your nail design can be childish and chic at the same time.

Back in the era of Deco and Depression and FDR, ladies who did paint their fingernails didn’t generally paint their fingernails the whole way. Wouldn’t you like to know their secrets?

As this excellent post on the (sadly, apparently now defunct) Art Deco blog The Painted Woman points out, “In the early-mid ’30s, women usually only painted the center of the nail, leaving the half-moon cuticle and tips bare with the underside tinted with a nail-white pencil or cream.” It’s the “moon manicure”: like a French manicure in reverse, in a bold color, without all the Jersey Shore associations of a pink-and-white French. (Yes, I will silently judge your tacky manicure. Bite me.)


What polish colors were popular in the ’30s, you ask? According to the Painted Woman, “All reds — from rosy to deep crimson — were popular, of course. But it isn’t true that ‘they’ didn’t wear pink in the 30s. Pinks were very much seen, as were nice peachy-browns and tawny colors that looked nice with suntans (the concept of changing one’s make-up according to the season was not unknown to 30s women). Cutex color choices in 1932 were Natural, Rose, Coral, Cardinal, and Colorless. Revlon colors introduced for the summer of 1935 included ‘Sun Rose’ and ‘Chestnut.’ Cutex named the ‘smartest colors’ for 1936 as Rose, Ruby, and Rust…wild colors such as green, blue, black, and gold were indeed available.”

Since the ’30s heydey, versions of the moon manicure have turned up on the runway and on the nails of those cool, effortlessly vintage-y girls I try not to feel overwhelmingly envious of on sight. This manicure is a little fiddly to achieve, but with a bit of patience, I got my moons down. Also, can I have that evening gown on the right? Thanks!


You’re going to need: hole reinforcers (you can use actual French manicure stick-on guides, but hole reinforcers from a stationery shop are good and cheap); a base coat of your choice (I use Nail Envy by OPI, an allegedly “strengthening” and “nourishing” base coat, more out of superstition/the conviction that at least it is not maybe hurting my nails than out of any firm belief in its effectiveness); two colors of polish; and a top coat of your choice (Sally Hansen Insta-Dri in my case, your mileage mary vary); and polish remover.


First, prep for your manicure. The steps that come before the first stroke of base coat go a long way to determining the durability of your polish. Soak your hands and scrub any dead skin away. Tidy up your cuticles, then clean, trim, and shape your nails. While this manicure looks awesome with long, pointy old-fashioned style nails, keeping your nails short decreases the likelihood of your polish chipping.

Do not apply any products containing oil to your skin or nails prior to your manicure. Wait, I hear you saying, ‘But…but…Jenna, polish can strip your nails of moisture, and healthy nails=moisturized nails! How can I moisturize my nails between drying manicures without, um, moisturizer?’ Here’s what I do, when I can be bothered to remember: I remove my old polish at night (most of the time I peel it off, I don’t even use remover, I’m so bad, bite me x2). Then I rub gobs of castor oil all over my nails and cuticles, put socks over my hands, laugh at my mitt-hands, pour a drink, laugh at myself trying to drink the drink with my pathetic mitt-hands, think highly original thoughts about Edward-Scissorhands, watch some Netflix, forget about everything else, and fall asleep. Next morning, I remove the socks; no more mitt-hands. Whenever I get around to painting my nails, my hands are moisturized, and I wash any residual oil off with soap and water. Oil, if present, will interfere with the adherence of the polish to your nail, causing chips. I believe this to be true because my cousin, who does nails to put herself through college, says so. She’s 19 and a full-time student and the manager of the salon where she works, she knows from nails, okay. (Hi cousin!)


Now for the actual nail painting: Apply your base coat. And then apply the color you want your “moons” to be, over the bottoms of your nails like so. I opted to use an ancient Estée Lauder pearly pink I think my mum got free with a lipstick eons ago. I had never up until this point used it for anything other than stopping up runs in my stockings.


While your polish is drying, trim your hole reinforcers into narrower curves. (I mean, this step is optional, but I think having moons that are scaled to the width of your individual nails makes sense, aesthetically.) When your polish is completely dry, apply the hole reinforcers to each nail. A good guide for moon depth is to have the edge of the center hole hit right at your cuticle.


Then apply your main polish color. I went for a burgundy shade by Essie. I chose not to leave the tip-stripes that some true ’30s ladies had. You do you. Now, I’ll be completely honest: the hole reinforcers did not work for me exactly as I’d hoped. I had some issues with incomplete reinforcer-adherence, which led to some unfortunate seepage of the burgundy onto the moons. I used remover on a Q-tip to clean up, and lightly re-applied the pearl polish in a few instances. If you have a steady hand, you could forgo guides, and paint the curves of your moons freehand.

Two more tips for a lasting manicure, again courtesy of my cousin: use the freshest polish you can, because nail polishes are full of volatile chemicals that begin evaporating as soon as the bottle is opened, changing the characteristics of the polish inside. (You cannot, contrary to rumor, restore an old, thickened bottle of polish to health by adding a few drops of remover to it, although they do sell nail polish refresher solutions at beauty-supply stores. Never experimented with any of ’em myself.) And two: leave your thumbs ’til last. That way you can use your thumbnails to clean up polish mistakes on your opposite hand, improving your application immensely. And an even application is an even manicure is a long-lasting manicure.


And then, when you’re all done with the rest of your manicure, do your thumbs. Ta-da.


Apply your top coat, let it dry, rub some oil or moisturizer into your cuticles, and voilà. I thought these colors looked cool against a dusty rose pink dress, since that’s a very ’30s color. (At least, the dress is dusty rose when not photographed in full evening sunlight.) Now go enjoy the compliments you’ll get on your eye-catching manicure.


Next week, by special reader request, I’ll show you how to make a purse that looks like an envelope. Yeah, an envelope. In the meantime, to check out past DIYs — including how to paint your nails with stripes, how to make a custom dress form parts I and II, how to make a fascinator, how to alter a thrift-store dress, how to knit an at-home version of a Prada bag, and how to sew a pair of shorts — click here.

Reverse French Mani for Short Nails

French nail designs look incredibly stunning. Reverse French mani for short nails makes them look longer and tinier. The lower part of the nail, the lunula (or the moon), can be covered with studs, a different color or left transparent. It is a great nail design no matter what look you are trying to have.

Source: Oliveandjune via Instagram

Source: Unistella_by_ek_lab via Instagram

Source: Paintboxnails via Instagram

Сute Pink Reverse French Nails

Cute pink reverse French nails will make you look more feminine and romantic. If you are looking for some ideas for your next nail art design, why not choose half-moon manicure? Here are some of the best designs we’ve gathered for you.

Source: So_nailicious via Instagram

Source: Yagala via Instagram
Source: Shilovatanya via Instagram

Lovely Purple Reverse French Manicure

Lovely purple reverse French mani will turn you into a princess. It is so stunning that it will make you the center of attention. Check out these great variants of manicure for your inspiration!

Source: Nailsarten via Instagram

Charming Reverse Square French Mani

Charming reverse square French mani will blow your mind away and leave you speechless for a moment. Begin a fresh chapter in your life with these nail designs. Feel a lack of nail art ideas? We will definitely help you.

Source: Solo_nails via Instagram
Source: Murievamadina via Instagram

Pretty Reverse French Manicure Designs

These pretty manicure designs will attract the necessary attention to your nails and hands. If you want to accentuate your femininity, dress up your nails with subtle floral details, dots or faux crystals. Use our ideas and make your imagination go wild!

Elegant Reverse French Manicure

These reverse French nails will make your look more glamorous. Don’t overwhelm your manicure with lots of rhinestones, just apply them on your accent nail. If it isn’t a thing of beauty, we don’t know what beauty means.

Source: Fiina_naillounge via Instagram

Main photo by So_nailicious

It’s no secret that French origins make anything 10 times cooler. How else to explain the inability to scroll past a photo of macarons without liking it? Or the siren song of yet another horizontal-stripe top? (Darn you, J.Crew!)

Sometimes we wonder if we’ve reached peak French, though. After all, French manicures — once the height of nail art sophistication — seem kind of bland and overplayed at this point.

But this new take on the salon classic is a total French revolution.

Check out TODAY’s A-Z nail GIF-tionary for more at-home nail art ideas.

Stuff We Love

Get a daily roundup of items that will make your life easier, healthier and more stylish.

All you’ll need is two colors that complement one another (but they definitely don’t have to be white and nude).

R is for … Reverse French

1. Prep the nail and apply base coat.

2. Polish nails the color that you’d like to see a hint of at the end (shown above in metallic gold). Let it dry.

RELATED: The evil eye nail art trend is easier to master than you think

3. Leaving a crescent shape at the base, use a deeper or more opaque shade to polish the nail as usual. This will allow the base color to show through.

4. Apply top coat and let dry.

Oui, oui! You look fabulous. Right down to that striped top. You get us every time, J.Crew.

It’s official: the french manicure is back. However, in 2019, the classic nail style — with its instantly recognizable icy white tips — has been reinvented in more ways than we can count. Out of all the various styles, there’s one version of the design that we think will be huge this year: floating french tips. The floating french, created by nail artist Tracey Lee, takes elements of a traditional french manicure — the stripe of white, for instance — but instead of the stripe running horizontally along the tips, it runs vertical along the nail, from the cuticle all the way to the end of the nail. In fact, for this version of the french manicure, the tip is left completely bare, creating the illusion of a “floating tip.”

“I don’t feel that the french manicure ever really goes away,” Lee said. And as we’ve seen over the past several months, it just comes back in different ways. For instance, celebrities have been loving french manicures that feature neon-colored tips. We’ve also spotted reverse french manis and, most recently, negative space or jelly-effect french manicures that feel minimal yet cool. Different versions of the classic design have been seen on the red carpet, backstage at London and New York Fashion Week, and, of course, all over our Instagram feeds. Although we won’t tire of the neon hues and reversed tips anytime soon, there really is something special about the floating french tip manicure.

You don’t even need to head to the salon to try out the trend. “For many people, the challenging thing about a french manicure is creating 10 perfectly shaped nails,” Lee said. “However, it’s possible just to incorporate the french on one or two nails, while the rest are full color.” With so many ways to revamp it, there’s truly no wrong way to try it at home. Luckily for us, Lee gave POPSUGAR the lowdown on exactly how to achieve this at home, and how you can jump on that nostalgic french manicure train but with a fresh, modern twist.

Read on for a step-by-step breakdown, plus other versions of the design that might inspire your next set.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *