This year has seen many of us experiment with our nails, predominantly from the comfort of our own home. For me personally, trying out different looks and attempting to distract myself with the intricacies of nail art was a real joy during lockdown. But it seems between all the tortoiseshell, coloured tips and smiley faces, we've all suffered a little fancy nail art fatigue, and the return to simple, sleek designs is imminent. Enter: the 'baby French,' a trend to have on your radar come 2021. But what is the 'baby French' nail design? Here's what you need to know.
What is the 'baby French'?
The term appears to have been largely coined by Vogue, and inspired by the recent work of nail artist Harriet Westmoreland, who paints the fingers of stars such as Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Westmoreland is best known for her slim French manicure design, which is just as it sounds: a fine white line painted onto natural-coloured nails. “The baby French is a modern take on the traditional French manicure, with the white tip painted as thinly as possible, while also being slightly tapered down the side of the nail,” Westmoreland told Vogue. "It’s low maintenance, very wearable, and because of the natural base you can also go longer between appointments," she adds.
Nail salons such as Townhouse (which has just opened its second location in Harrods) have also got on board with the trend, which founder Juanita Huber-Millet says her clients love because it is "sophisticated, stylish, super wearable and suits many nail shapes."
Polina Brezgina, nail artist at East London haunt Selfish, says the trend has particularly taken off recently due to the opposite direction nail art is taking after several seasons of complicated, very bold looks. "The 'baby French' is the refreshed version of the classic French manicure that came along with the minimalism trend to make a shift in the nail industry." It is also popular, she says, because it works well with short nails, which is another look many of us are opting for.
How can you achieve the look?
If you fancy treating yourself to a mani this side of Christmas or indeed in the new year, this would be the perfect 2021 style to ask for at your local nail salon. As the look requires precision and a steady hand, it's best done by a professional. Nail salons are still allowed to stay open in tier 3 areas, and visiting your local one is a great way to support a small business.
However, if you fancy giving it a go at home, the experts agree it's doable.
Let's start with some nail maintenance. This is a look that's super clean and sophisticated, which means well trimmed nails and pushed-back cuticles are a must. It can work on a round or squared-off nail shape, but Westmoreland told Vogue she loves this look on shorter, squarely filed nails because it's "the most flattering and complementary version of the style, whatever the nail bed shape or size.”
Next up, picking your base. "To achieve the look, you should choose the right base colour that goes well with your skin tone," says Brezgina. "people often choose transparent, beige or even milky white to create a modern look." In fact, Westmoreland says this "is a similar process to shade matching a tinted moisturiser or foundation for the skin."
Now onto drawing the actual line, which is unsurprisingly the hardest part. A white line is the most classic, but you could always try a black one or even a bolder hue. Whatever you decide, the type of tool you use is crucial here, says Brezgina. "The technicians use a very thin brush to make the perfect lines. The look is achievable at home, it just requires some practice."