American Manicure vs French Manicure: What’s The Difference?

Published on: Jul 7, 2022 • 5 min read


It’s no secret that people do things differently in other parts of the world, and manicures are no exception.

But have you ever stopped to wonder what the difference is between an American manicure and a French manicure?

If so, you’ve come to the right article. Today, we’re looking at the specific differences between an American manicure and a French manicure.

american vs french manicure

Although the differences aren’t tremendous, they’re still worth learning about.

Remember - knowledge is power, ladies and gents!

Let’s go.

French Vs. American Manicure: 5 Differences

As I mentioned above, the differences aren’t huge when it comes to an American manicure and a French manicure. Yet, they’re still worth noting.

Here are the top five key differences between these two beloved manicure styles.

1. Color

Although a classic French manicure and American manicure look relatively similar, there is one key difference: the color of the base.

Let’s start with the tip, though. French and American manicures both utilize the classic solid white tip.

(Although the American version tends to have a fainter, off-white color).

It’s a standout feature that most people love about this classic manicure.

Where the difference lies most is in the base color. A French manicure uses a pink base, while an American manicure uses a light beige (skin color tone) instead.

See? Subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless.

2. Starkness

Another key difference between French and American manicures is the starkness.

While an American manicure uses creamier, natural colors on the entire nail, a French nail has more shocking tones like bright, stark white, and bold light pink.

3. Tip Size

The tip size can also be included when discussing French vs. American manicure.

However, this is a less prominent deciding factor, as it can depend on the nail salon you go to.

However, most people will share that the American version (the “softer version”) has a shorter white tip (typically a faint white) compared to the French mani.

On the other hand, French manicures have a longer and more noticeable solid white tip.

4. Appearance

Reread the two sections and keep these things in mind: French manicures have starker shades while American manicures are creamier and delicate.

With that in mind, can you guess which one appears more natural? You bet - it’s the American manicure.

American manicures tend to have a natural look that can be mistaken for a set of entirely natural nails.

That doesn’t mean that the traditional French manicure doesn’t have appeal, though.

French manicures tend to be more sleek and sophisticated, which is just as good - if not better, for some.

Regardless of whether you’re a French manicure or American manicure fan, you can still decorate your nails with nail art on the entire nail or just in small areas of the nail.

5. Shape

When it comes to the great French vs. American manicure debate, it’s clear that color is king.

However, colors aren’t the only thing separating a French mani from American nails.

We must also look at the nail shape.

An American manicure is almost always placed on a squared-off nail, while French manicures include rounded sides.

I’ll mention real quick that nail length doesn’t play a significant factor. However, French nails tend to look better on longer nails because the defined tip is so much bolder and longer.

Pro tip: Besides American and French, there are also Russian manicures - learn about them and how they are different with our article.

Which One is Right For You?

Not sure if you should go with the French or American mani? Here are a few things to consider.

  • Do you want a more natural look or a chic look? French nails will offer a more sophisticated and stylish appearance that might be best for grandiose events, while an American manicure will work well for day-to-day activities.
  • Do you prefer square or round nails? An American manicure will focus on a square nail shape, while French manicures are beautifully rounded. Which style do you like?
  • Do you like bold or natural colors? American tips have an off-white tip, while French manicures have a very bold, look-at-me stark white shade. Consider which looks match your personality and style.

Remember that regardless of the type of manicure you choose, you can always decorate it to your liking.

Simply use polish to create fantastic designs on top of the clear base coat!


What is an American French manicure?

To put it simply, an American French manicure is a French manicure with muted tips.

Instead of the French manicure’s intense, bright white and pink, the American version uses a faint white tip and beige on the nails.

How much is an American manicure?

A “basic” American manicure will typically cost about $20 across the board in the USA.

Of course, that is for basic nail polish. If you want acrylics or gel polish or want to add art on top of your nails, you can expect to pay $50 and up.

Are American manicures out of style?

American manicures (and French manicures, for that matter) will never go out of style.

Both types of manicures are “classics” through and through and can be worn just about anywhere.

If you want to zhuzh up this look, you can always add colors and art to decorate your nails and make them stand out amongst the sea of American and French manicures.

What is a Russian manicure?

A Russian manicure is much different than the two we’ve talked about today.

Russian manicures use an electronic file (e-file or e-drill) to get rid of the cuticle on the nail bed.

This allows the entire nail to be painted, creating a longer and more elegant appearance.

 » nails » American Manicure vs French Manicure: What’s The Difference?
All product and company names are trademarks or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.
© 2021-2023 My Body Day • All rights reserved