American Vs French Manicure: 5 Key Differences

With how popular french tips have become, it is easy to understand why someone may have thought “Oh, this needs something extra” and decided to create an American tip manicure.

Over the last few years, American tips have surged in popularity as this newer nail trend gives a polished, natural look to your hands.

These two manicures look a great deal alike, but there are a few fundamentals that separate them from each other. We would be looking at those differences in this article.

American Vs French Tips

American Vs French Manicure

The difference between these two manicures is not huge, but they are worth knowing to help you distinguish one from the other during your next nail appointment. 

The top five differences they share are color, shape, starkness, tip size, and general appearance.

1. Color

Although a classic french manicure and American nails look so alike, a great way to tell them apart is through their colors.

First of all, the tips for both manicure types are painted white, but while a clean, stark white is used for French tips, a softer, creamy, off-white shade is used for American tips.

Then for the nail base, pink nail polish is used for French tips while a light beige, closer to the skin color kind of nail polish is used for American tips.

2. Shape

The subtle difference in colors isn’t the only thing separating American tips from French tips. We must also consider nail shape.

For American manicures, square nails are always preferred, while for French manicures, slightly rounded nails are used along with squared ones.

Since the tips of a French manicure are its standout feature, the shape usually enhances it more. 

The length isn’t a huge factor, but the nails would look so much better with more length because of a much bolder and longer defined tip.

3. Starkness

The stark difference in the two colors used for these two manicures is another great way to tell them apart.

While an American manicure will use softer, creamier colors on the nail, french tips use more shocking colors with bright whites and bold pinks. 

4. Tip Size

This factor is less prominent than the others and, I think, depends on the individual’s preference and the salon in which the manicure is done.

But, most times, American manicures can be seen having a shorter, white tip, while French manicures have a more solid and noticeable white tip.

5. General Appearance 

French manicures tend to look more sophisticated and sleek, and will always stand out no matter how flashy your dress is, or will make a drab look turn fabulous.

American manicure is a more natural, subtle look, perfect for an everyday appearance thanks to its low-key nature. This manicure can get mistaken for a set of natural nails.

Which Manicure is the Better Option?

It all depends on what you hope to achieve with the look. Here are a few things to consider if you’re not sure you should go for a French or American manicure.

1. The Look You Are Going For 

If you want a chic, clean, poised, and sophisticated look, you should go for a French manicure. It offers a stylish appearance that is best for grand events and meetings.

If you want a more natural look, you already know an American manicure is your best bet. It will work well for any regular day-to-day activity.

2. Shape Of Nail You Prefer

American manicures focus on square-shaped nails, while French manicures can offer you nail shapes from squares to softly rounded tips. 

What shape do you prefer? This should help you make a choice.

3. The Boldness of the Colors

Do you prefer bold, attention-snatching colors or would you like a more natural, downtoned look?

American tips have a calmer, softer look with their warmer colors, while French tips have a very loud personality, with a bright “focus on me” pink and white.

Consider your personality and decide which one matches you more.

Regardless of whether you end up with a French manicure or an American manicure, you can always add bits and pieces for nail art to customize it to your preference.

Simply use nail polish to create your design on the nail.  

FAQs on American Tip Nails Vs French Tips

What is an American tip nail?

An American tip nail is a less intense style of French tip. It is painted with a creamier white and a less intense, skin-flattering base. 

A great way to achieve this is to first paint the tip white, then use the neutral shade to paint the full nail, including the white.

What shape is best for French tips?

Although french tips are suitable for any shape and any length, mid-length to short almond and square nails give the best looks. 

Are French tips still in style?

Although french tips never actually left, they are back bigger and better with more colorful tips and styles and they will keep going strong for longer.

Are French tips outdated?

With how long they’ve been around, it is easy for anyone to think they are well past their prime and have now become too old to be considered relevant.

However, with the new twists and arts coming out, I think it’s safe to say that french tips will enjoy another few decades. And really, the classic french manicure will always be a standard no other manicure can beat.

Which nail is more natural looking: American or French tips?

American tip nails bear the closest semblance to natural nails because of the softer white tip and the beige base color.