Your Manicure - The Francais Way…
As we have already touched on some of the Parisian woman's chic lifestyle practices, and signature lip look, we can note also that nothing says elegance like a beautifully maintained and manicured set of hands. Aside from our faces, our hands are the second tell tale signs of our age and how we treat our physique. Let's take a look at how to update and upkeep our lovely mitts - the français way...
Why do we even have fingernails and toe nails? Are they solely for decorative purposes?
Actually, our nails are composed of a protein called keratin (the same protein as our hair).
Our nails have developed over time to serve as not only an extra layer of protection, but a needed addition that helps us with our manual dexterity. Well, that, and opposable thumbs!
Nails also serve as a visual indicator of our overall health. Discolorations, brittleness, etc., can indicate a need for medical assistance. Perhaps, this is why people look to a lovely pair of well kept hands a sign of good health, and thereby, beauty.
Now, let's get one myth out of the way. The French manicure is not at all French. It was marketed by an American, Jeff Pink, in 1975, under his leadership at Orly (a beauty supplier). This moniker became popular after the company started selling pre-made kits for the design and wanted to add some "je ne sais quoi" French allure to boost sales. Clever.
To add to this, French women do not find this look chic. Rather, this look, in addition to long nails, whether acrylic or natural, are considered to be rather déclassé. Remember, P'Nichers, less is more!
Parisian women view simple elegance as a minimalistic form of beauty. Bedazzled, decorative, claw-like talons are not at all chic in their eyes.
Parisians opt for shorter (with just a touch of length) nails in a rounded shape.
On the color scheme, overall, light pinks, beiges, nudes, etc. are the go-to hues of choice.
It should be noted that Parisian women do not flock as frequently to nail salons as we do in The States. Perhaps a trip or two before holidays or special occasions, but on the whole, they incorporate this beauty ritual into their self care routines, a sacred time of pampering and investing in themselves.
Alors... let's speak then about the home manicure, the français way... It's actually quite simple and a very relaxing way to enhance your beauty rituals and set aside time to focus on your own self and health.
First, you will want to remove all nail polish with a non-acetone remover.
Second, you'll need to start off with a proper hand wash. Grab your scrub brush to exfoliate your hands or even indulge in a (non-sponsored) hand scrub.
You'll want to make sure you get under your nails as well, to get out any dirt, grit, or any residue from when you have removed your nail polish.
You'll now file into a rounded shape, ensuring you have left no snags behind.
Next, you will want to thoroughly moisturize your hands. Don't think of this as a slapdash way to get through some steps, but rather a way to replenish your skin of moisture and nutrients that get depleted and removed during our busy days - especially in these times when we (rightly) wash our hands so very often.
My favorite (non sponsored) cream is rose water cream. Not only does it smell like walking through a summer rose garden, it also contains a combination of glycerin, marigold, and rosemary extracts that really indulge my overworked digits!
Make sure to use enough cream and really allow time to soak into your skin.
Don't stop with just your hands. This is your time to pamper your forearms and elbows.
Without rushing, add some more cream and begin at the top of your forearm. Using your opposite hand, gently kneed the areas just below your elbow. Squeeze inside and out, working the kinks out of your muscles.
Work your way all the way down to your wrists. You can roll your wrists to and from to ease the tension in those muscles from all those hours at our keyboards and mobile devices.
Now, wipe away the excess cream with a warm wet cloth or towel and repeat the other arm... so relaxing!
Now, we're ready to oil our cuticles. It may seem like a waste of time and resources, but our nail beds really cherish this extra indulgence.
Our constant use of harsh soaps, antibacterial sanitizers, and polish removers dries out this delicate skin quite quickly and severely.
To combat this, you can lay out your towel on the table to alleviate mess and squeeze a few drops of (non sponsored) cuticle oil at the base of your cuticles.
Massage this oil gently into your cuticles until soaked up by your grateful nail beds. You can wipe away any excess with your towel.
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with spending a few dollars on a nice cuticle oil, P'Niche likes to make her own.
We like mixing organic, virgin coconut oil as a "carrier oil," and adding both lavender and carnation oils (both contain anti inflammatory properties).
Sometimes we will also add in lemon oil, rose oil, or frankincense, depending on the season.
Not only does this natural blend fill our boudoir with a heavenly scent, we love the ritual of making the oils as it feels likes an extra indulgent treat for ourselves.
As always, do check your own allergies before using any oil or cream...
P'Niche cannot stress enough here to go slowly, gently, and to test your skin for allergies before beginning this process.
At this point, I tend to remoisturize my hands with a touch more hand cream, which blends in with the cuticle oil. You'd be surprised how much will continue to soak in.
Once that is done, it's actually back to the sink for a re-wash of hands. It may seem counterintuitive after all that moisturizing, and massaging, but this step removes any additional residue and oils that would prevent your nail polish from going on smoothly and lasting longer.
Once your lovely hands are washed and dried, you can also take a closer look to see if there are any additional areas of rough cuticle or hangnails that need a final trimming before starting your polish.
P'Niche Personal here, I actually don't wear nail polish at all. So much do I use my hands, that any polish, whether personally or professionally applied, chips within a day or two.
I buff my nails to a lustrous shine with a buffing stick or buffing block. Using all sides of the stick/block accordingly, I buff to a healthy looking shine that sparkles almost as much as a coat of clear polish.
Now, if nudes and softer pastels just don't speak to that bolder side you wish to represent, fear not! Parisians also indulge in fiery red polishes (again, nails are kept shorter).
Regardless of the shade you choose, the best way to polish is to start near the base of the nail with a wide strike down the center of the nail.
Next, you'll follow with one stroke on each side - so three strokes of polish in total on each nail. Repeat for a second coat of color, if desired, and a clear top coat after that, also if desired.
Wait until completely dry, et voilà ... Your Parisian Paws are ready to debut!
When I am lucky enough to be in Paris and to indulge in a manicure at a salon, my go-to manicurists can be found at:
Tammy American Nails in Paris
2, rue des Dames
75017 - Métro: Place de Clichy
Dupin Nail Bar
15 rue Dupin
75006 - Métro: Sevres-Babylone
While there are ongoing debates on tipping practices, and we'll discuss in future posts, I always leave 8-10%. Perhaps high by Parisian standards, and not required at all, P'Niche values the relationship between my manicurist and myself. Also, that tip often leads to a few extra minutes of massage the next visit!
What do you say, P'Nichers? How do you maintain your manicure and what is your color of choice? We'd be delighted to hear in the comments below and look forward to discussing other Parisian beauty rituals in future posts, so do subscribe to revisit to the Parisian Niche et à bientôt!