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French Manicure and French Polish

There’s perhaps no nail aesthetic more iconic than the white-tipped French manicure. Neutral and understated - yet meticulously preened - classic French nails have been a beauty staple for ladies everywhere since they first emerged in the ‘30s.

The terms ‘French manicure’ and ‘French polish’ however, are sometimes used interchangeably within the spa and cosmetology industries despite the fact these are different treatments.

We understand this can be confusing and so we have created this page to clearly define each, so our customers can make an informed decision regarding which treatment is most suited to them.

We’ve been helping customers book unforgettable spa trips for more than 20 years.

 

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What is a French manicure?

A ‘French’ manicure isn’t actually all that different to any other spa manicure without the geographical prefix. The involved hand/foot massage and nail care techniques are identical, or at least very similar (some variation is, of course, to be expected between different therapists and spa chains).

Specifically, it is the painting - or the French polish - stage of French manicures which makes them unique. While most traditional manicures see each nail polished (varnished) to be a single hue, French manicures see the tips of each nail neatly painted white.

What is a French polish?

After a base coat has been applied by the therapist/nail technician, a natural looking pink, beige or nude polish is applied to each nail. Once dry, a neat white tip will be created on each (where each separates from the nailbed) using an opaque white varnish or, less commonly, a nail crayon.

Sometimes this process is reversed - with the white tip on each nail created before the coloured varnish is applied on top - to create a more understated look. Regardless of the order, once the varnish and tips are dry, a further top coat will be applied to protect the nails and enhance the design’s durability.

French polishes may sound rather simple but they’re an incredibly difficult do-it-yourself choice even one wonky tip, or varnish blob or dent will ruin the entire impact of the ‘high maintenance’ aesthetic.

NOTE: Always check the website for your chosen spa venue to determine the exact details of your French manicure or polish.

What’s the difference between a French Manicure and French polish?

TO CLARIFY: When customers book a French manicure, they will receive much luxurious hand pampering: exfoliation, massage and/or a softening paraffin wax treatment, for example. The therapist will also spend much time neatening cuticles and tackling any other skin or nail condition problems, before applying the French polish as described above.

Those booking a French polish meanwhile, will see their nails varnished in the expected ‘French’ way, but will receive minimal additional hand or nail pampering. French polishes are often less expensive than French manicures for this reason and are a great choice for those with hands and nails that are already in great condition.

That’s not to say those with less than perfect nails can’t enjoy a French polish - the therapist will work to make your nails look as great as possible, regardless of their current appearance.

A French manicure and French polish can be purchased as part of a gift, so whether you're looking for someone to accompany you, or you wish to buy a present for that special someone, be sure to check out our spa gift vouchers page.

To learn more what you can typically expect when indulging with a manicure - French or otherwise - at one of the 350+ spas we represent nationwide, please see our manicures guide.

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