I Tried the TikTok French Manicure Hack On Short Nails

Turns out the secret to achieving a perfect French manicure at home is to repurpose an unexpected nail tool.

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Photo: Getty Images / Jo Imperio

If anyone is excited about the resurgence of the French manicure, it's me. In my early teens, nothing made me feel fancier than the French mani special at the mall nail salon. Years later the finger-elongating style is cool again, and I'm fully on board.

This time around, TikTok exists, so anyone who wants a French manicure can look to the app for pointers and inspiration. One hack, in particular, has been getting a lot of attention, as it promises an easy way to DIY the nail style at home.

The trick incorporates a nail stamper, which is a tool that you can use with a "scraper" (a small plastic card) and a steel plate to stamp designs onto your nails. The French manicure hack on TikTok is an off-label use of the stamper, if you will. After your base coat, you paint a line of polish directly onto the stamper, which has a convex, sticky, silicone surface. (They all have this type of surface which is designed to make stamping possible.) Then, you dip your finger into the still-wet line of polish — but only deep enough to create the French tips to your desired thickness. Clean up any mistakes with a brush dipped in acetone, add a top coat, and voilà. (

I've been eager to try the hack but also skeptical that I could pull it off. My nail art skills are at a -3 out of 10, and I hadn't tried to DIY a French manicure since a failed attempt years ago. At the time, I'd experimented with my generation's French manicure hack: stickers. When I peeled off the stick-on strips that function as stencils, I saw that paint had managed to seep through, creating messy lines. It looked like a toddler had freehanded it.

To my surprise, the nail stamper French manicure hack was way easier to pull off. I've tried it with the Maniology Ice Cube Clear Rectangular Stamper (Buy It, $9, maniology.com) and the Clear Jelly Big Bling XL Stamper (Buy It, $11, clearjellystamper.com), and didn't have a strong preference. The Maniology Ice Cube is more compact and felt slightly easier to maneuver, but the Clear Jelly Big Bling XL comes with a backup stamper head. To clean nail polish off the stampers between uses, both brands recommend using a lint roller or something else sticky. I waited for the paint to dry and applied masking tape, and the paint rolled right off. (

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Courtesy of Renee Cherry

The trickiest part for me was the clean-up step. On my first attempt, the polish color seemed to be bleeding from my nail brush onto my skin. After some digging online — I found this YouTube video particularly helpful — I concluded that I should've been wiping my brush onto a towel intermittently to avoid distributing any polish I'd removed onto my skin. If you're an at-home nail artist you're probably like "duh," but this is the one thing I wish I'd known before attempting the technique. Wiping off my brush helped, but you could also experiment with painting on a liquid latex barrier beforehand. I inevitably end up with paint under the tips of my nails every time I dip into the stamper, but if you have long nails, that might not happen in the first place. (

I've never managed a passable DIY French manicure until trying this hack, and with practice hopefully, I'll be able to fine-tune the process and results even further. I love that unlike sticker strips, you can reuse a nail stamper over and over. Two (freshly painted) thumbs up.

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