Few beauty trends have the staying power of the French manicure. Timeless, simple, and infinitely customizable, the style has become synonymous with ease and sophistication — two things often at odds. Whether adorned in the classic white-and-pink with thin, rounded tips or piling on neon polish and rhinestones, celebrity French manicures are as wild and varied as the stars themselves. Of course, it’s that versatility that made the style such a hit in the first place.
First created in 1975 by Hollywood beauty supplier Jeff Pink (now CEO of Orly), the lore goes that Pink, sympathetic to how long changing actors’ polish on-set took, developed a set of polishes to approximate a natural look. "They asked me to make a color that would go with everything. I thought of using white polish on the tips of the nails,” Pink has said. “I used it on the tips of nails, then put a flesh-toned polish over it.” That’s right — despite the name, the French manicure is actually American-made.
In every subsequent decade, the French manicure dominated. Cher and Barbra Streisand are counted as early adopters of the look, while ‘90s celebrities like Pamela Anderson cemented thick, squared-off versions as a decade-defining staple. These days, while some prefer the signature color-way, you can also spot pastel, patterned, and negative-space nail versions with just as much frequency. Here, take a look at some of the best modern French manicures as seen on the most stylish celebrities:
We’d be remiss not to start with the Queen Bey herself, who’s been seen with assorted dialed-up versions of the French manicure for years. While she’s normally a fan of the traditional white tips (they seem to be her most worn style), Beyoncé’s also shown off gilded tips, black paired with beige, and this geometric-enhanced set to match her delicate hand tattoos.
Hailey Bieber might be the patron saint of Gen-Z nails, as evidenced by her self-proclaimed obsession with long acrylics, bright polish, and bold nail art. When she’s not having daisies or colorful patterns painted on, Mrs. Bieber is a fan of a classic French manicure — albeit with several twists. Here, she wears a spring green color on her tips, a look she’d return to earlier this year.
She doesn’t share too much on social media but when we do get a beauty behind-the-scenes glimpse from Selena Gomez, it’s always well worth the wait. In a new nail look created by her go-to manicurist Tom Bachik (he also works closely with Margot Robbie), Gomez treats her fans to not one but two different twists on the French manicure. Glossy black and white lacquers on her pointed nails give the manicure a mod vibe, while the Louboutin-red underside is pure fun.
It has to be said: Kourtney Kardashian’s nails are always the most interesting to look at, and her warm-weather take on a French manicure might just be her greatest set yet. Posed against the backdrop of boyfriend Travis Barker’s impressively tattoo’d torso, the eldest Kardashian shows off spring-fresh red tips decorated with tiny cherries. The best part? The cherries appear to be painted like little hearts — cue the squeals.
She stays real, of course, but despite her enduring humbleness, Jennifer Lopez is routinely the glammest one in the room — even when the room in question is a celebrity-studded awards show. On one such occasion, Tom Bachik crafted a set of romantic-goth black-and-white French tips featuring rhinestones accents so eye-catching, they could stop an awards show. One comment on Bachik’s post really summed it up best with, “BRO PLEASE SHE'S A LIVING GODDESS!”
Matching her love for bright, colorful outfits, Lizzo never leaves her nails unadorned. A fan of all things nail art, we can usually count on the “Juice” singer to keep her nail length and shape consistent but the polish is always a surprise. With her go-to nail artist Eri Ishizu (who also works with stars like Issa Rae, Laverne Cox, and J.Lo), she’s done versions of the French manicure starring glittery chocolate tips, fluttering butterflies, and minimalist stripes. But this swirling marble version, done up in pale purples for spring, looks like it was made for her.
The 2020 Golden Globes was a historic one as Awkwafina became the first Asian-American woman to take home a Best Actress award. Dressed in Dior, a perfect mix of playful and Victorian-structured, Awkwafina gripped her (long overdue) win with a set of delicate half-moon tips that matched her ensemble. Black tips gave way to a nude base, allowing them to stand out even more. The subdued statement manicure comes courtesy of celebrity nail pro Thuy Nguyen, who’s responsible for some of the decade’s most stunning manicures.
Dua Lipa sings “common love isn’t for us”, and she can apply that same principle to her ever-changing nails. Trying to keep up with Lipa’s revolving door of stunning manicures, many the expert work of nail artist Michelle Humphrey, is nearly impossible as she pops up again and again with some bold new color or gorgeous artwork. This ‘60s-inspired flower power French manicure is a perfect example of IRL wearable nail art: Leaving most of the nail neutral, the red floral pattern is relegated to the tips where it can really stand out.
Doesn’t Gabrielle Union’s smile kind of say everything? Laughing outside during a shoot, we see a new minimalist manicure by Thuy Nguyen (who’s also Union’s good friend) that features the subtlest take on a classic pink-and-white French manicure. Scalloping the snow-white tips, Nguyen’s work mimics the look of fluffy clouds perfect for a warm weather day.
Why wear one nail trend when you could wear...them all? This ultra-bright set, created by celebrity manicurist Mei Kawajiri (known for her incredibly eye-popping designs), were made for Gigi Hadid’s 26th birthday. Incorporating half-moon French manicure tips, tropical shades, and a mix of finishes, the eye-catching nails pair perfectly with Hadid’s new red hair.