By Marissa DeSantis
If you thought you had surpassed the need for a French manicure, think again. The trendiest nails for summer have upgraded the standard white tip with bright neon shades instead. As seen on actress Megan Fox, model Gigi Hadid, and every influencer in between, the neon French manicure is completely customizable and surprisingly easy to recreate for yourself.
“Neon Frenches are a great summer look if you don’t want to fully commit to color,” says Diem Troung, an LA-based manicurist who works with the Kardashian-Jenners (and has created some of our favorite Neon French manicure looks). But they can be made bolder, too, if you want to swap out your nude base for another neon hue. “You really don’t need a lot of fancy tools to do a French either,” Troung insists, in case you thought you needed celebrity manicurist level skills to pull it off.
Ahead, she shares her step-by-step guide for mastering the neon French manicure at home. Or, check out some of our favorite color combinations to save for your next in-salon appointment.
As with any manicure, you’ll need a base coat to prep your nails and a top coat at the end to seal your color and add shine. For the main color, Troung says you’ll want a sheer nude polish (or you can opt for a clear or neon base), and either one neon polish or a mix of polishes for the tips of the nails. “You’ll also need a round, clean-up brush and some acetone to clean up any polish that may get on your cuticles,” she says.
Before you start, Troung notes that one of her top tips is to let each layer of polish completely dry in between coats.
“This really helps your from smudging your nails at the end,” she explains.
After you’ve painted your base coat, Troung says your nude (or whatever foundation shade you choose) should go next. You can paint a second coat of your nude shade depending on how opaque you want the color to be, and once that’s fully dry, you’re ready for the neon tips.
“A quick and easy way to do it is just by using the actual brush from the neon polish bottle,” Troung says. “You can make the French as thick or thin as you like, and don’t worry about messing up or not having a super-smooth line on your first try—you can always do a second coat of the neon and perfect it then,” she insists. When painting the lines, Troung recommends using the corner of the brush and slowly dragging it along the free edge of your nails from corner to corner. The key, according to Troung, is staying as steady with your movement as possible.
To fix any mistakes (like excess polish on the skin surrounding your nails), Troung says to use a small amount of acetone on a clean-up brush to remove misplaced color without messing up your manicure. “Follow up with a good top coat, and apply a fresh layer of top coat every two days to really make your mani last,” she advises.
What we love most about the neon French manicure is that there are endless ways you can wear it. Add just a touch of color by pairing a nude base with one neon shade, like Troung did using gel shades of OPI in Tiramisu For Two and The Gel Bottle in Sweet Pea (the OPI shade comes in regular polish as well, while Orly Nail Lacquer in So Fly is a close match for the gel-only Sweet Pea).
“Pink, orange, and yellow are great for summer because it’s fun and bright, and they complement each other well,” Troung suggests of other color options to try alone or together. You can even opt for a rainbow of neons if you don’t want to choose just one, thanks to collections like Olive & June’s The Summer Set. Then, there are the bolder options, like Gigi Hadid‘s two-toned neon French manicure. Or, you can combine two summer trends in one like celebrity manicurist Michelle Humphrey did with her daisy and colorful (though more pastel) tips.