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There are nail trends that are practical for work or school, like the french manicure, and then there are trends that are a punch-up from your basic monochromatic gel. That’s where textured french manicures come in.
You might have heard of the textured nail craze, which is all about raised patterns and can include everything from 3D swirls to “liquid molten” motifs. Instead of covering the entirety of the nail, however, textured french manicures are applied just to the tips. It’s an easy way to take the artsy feel of that 3D effect and combine it with the elegance of a classic french manicure, which has been a staple since the early aughts and a mainstay on red carpets during award season.
“This is a huge design that has come from South Korea,” celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec tells POPSUGAR. “Texture has been popping up more often since the pandemic as people want more ways to play in the space. Plus, it’s just fun.”
If you’re interested in trying out the textured french manicure yourself, keep reading as Kandalec breaks down everything you should know, from runway inspiration to the exact products to achieve the look.
What Are Textured French Manicures?
As the name suggests, textured french tips take the traditional design and add 3D elements, but only to the tips. It’s a look that has made its way down runways at New York Fashion Week (see Prabal Gurung’s spring/summer ’24 show) and currently has the TikTok nail community in a vice grip. Typically, it’s a clear swirl overlay that is used, but some have opted to paint the texture in the same shade as the tips of their nails for a more subtle rendition.
While it can feel like the perfect middle ground for minimal beauty lovers who just want to add a little extra something onto their nails, the textured french manicure can also make a fun addition to more maximalist designs as well. “It’s perfect because it’s a look you can layer,” Kandalec says. “Go all out and add charms, hand paint details around it — any and everything that you can think up is fair game.”
How to Get Textured French Manicures
If you want to create the look using gel products, there are a few things to note when it comes to textured patterns. “3D gel comes in two components: a squeeze tube, which is typically the faster application method, or a pot,” Kandalec says. “Both have their pros and cons, but it can be hard to squeeze from a tube if you have trouble with your hands.” When working with the pots, it can be a bit more manual, but you can add pigments into the gel and then roll a portion between your gloved fingers to thin it out and press it into the nail to get the effect.
While many of these products are only available to professional nail technicians, there are some options available on Amazon like the Ibd LED/UV Gels Builder Gel Clear ($17) or this Sara Friends 3D Embossing Jjyu-ing Gel ($10). Still, when shopping, be sure that the product you choose is from a reputable brand and check the reviews for common mentions of allergies or contact dermatitis.
Then when it comes time to paint, use a translucent pink like OPI’s Bubble Bath ($11) as the base, and then go in with a smile line that is thick enough to give you space for a noticeable pattern. Depending on your preferred method of application, either carefully draw the design onto the tip or carve the hard gel into your preferred design after placing it onto the finger, curing each finger as you go. Finish with a top coat of your choice, and the look is complete.
Textured French Manicure Inspiration
Inspired? We don’t blame you. If you’re ready for your own textured french tips, ahead, we rounded up some of the best versions floating around the internet.