If you had told me a year ago that all the leading nail trends would be inspired by various liquids, you would've been greeted with a blank stare. But, after seeing the lemonade, lip gloss, and jelly nail trends popping off, I get it: we all just want our nails to look incredibly shiny. One of the biggest nail trends this season is the milk bath manicure, and it just got an upgrade: meet the milky French manicure. Ahead, everything you need to know about the trend.
Nail trends have been swinging towards a “my nails but better” (or MNBB for short) manicure for months now, and there are countless ways to nail a MNBB look (like the classic French, the lip gloss nail, or the milk bath manicure). Yet, nails are more than just something to groom, they’re the easiest way to express yourself , which is why we're starting to mix and match nail trends for a custom look (like Anne Hathaway's "alien" French manicure that blends classic tips with a glazed finish).
“I believe the milky French mani is trending for a couple reasons,” says celebrity manicurist and Tweezerman pro partner, Tom Bachik. “First off, people are looking for another twist on the French and American mani as trends naturally evolve and it’s clean, minimalistic and chic. Additionally, the milky white helps to camouflage shorter or imperfect nails creating a beautiful clean look.”
Whereas a traditional French or American manicure calls for using a super-sheer nude base color, the milky French manicure uses a semi-opaque white or off-white shade for a little more coverage, and has been spotted on celebs like Jennifer Aniston.
How to Get the Look
As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, plan to fail—and although creating a manicure isn’t exactly life-or-death, the sentiment still applies. Bachik notes that prep is absolute key for achieving a milky French manicure at home and says, “For the manicure to look its best, proper prep is going to give the best foundation to create the desired look. I always start by gently pushing back the cuticle to reveal the excess cuticle and get it off the nail.” After that, Bachik trims excess bits and pieces with cuticle nippers from the Tweezerman x Tom Bachik Ultimate Nail Care Set ($59) and then uses a nail file to gently shape of the nail. Finally, a milky French manicure requires a high-shine finish, and much like a smooth sports car gleams in the sun, you’ll want to buff your nail beds to get rid of ridges that might dull the manicure’s shine.
The next step is to apply a smoothing base coat like the CND RidgeFx ($6) and then create a micro French tip. “The key to this look is to apply the thin micro French white line first, then applying the 'milk bath' color over the top will help to create that hazy American manicure look,” says Bachik. “If you want even a hazier look, use a makeup applicator sponge or sponge eyeshadow applicator to apply your thin white line just along the edge or your tip.”
If you’re afraid of streaks with semi-sheer colors, Bachik reveals, “Really, a quality milky white won’t streak. It will give you an even coverage of semi sheer creamy white. I recommend finding a great milky white like Essie’s sheer luck.”
Unfortunately, Sheer Luck has since been discontinued, so you can opt for similar creamy white nail polishes like the Dazzle Dry Nail Polish in Pawn ($22), Manicurist Green Natural Nail Polish in Milky White ($14), or the Aprés Gel Colour in Baby’s Breath ($15) for a gel manicure. And if you don’t have time to wait on shipping, Bachik says, “If you in a pinch and can’t find the right color, you can mix white and clear to create your own milky white.”
Once your nails have reached peak milky French, Bachik reveals his secret for locking in a high-shine finish on all his celeb clients: “Applying two coats of clear can help to smooth out the surface and protect the white tip, then reapply a fresh coat of clear every three days to refresh the shine and add a new layer of protection.” You can use the OPI Plumping Volumizing Top Coat ($15) for a standard manicure, or the Orly Gel Topcoat ($30) for a gel mani.
And as with anything, don’t be afraid to mix in your favorite colors or designs. Bachik says, “Add a pop of color by using your favorite color/s on the tips instead of white or add iridescent or shimmer to create sparkle for a bit of glam.”