The “Invisible” French Manicure Is A Chic Upgrade From The Original

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From barely there nail tints to polished “BB cream” nails, minimalist manicures are leading the way when it comes to the nail trends of 2024. So it comes as no surprise that the humble French manicure is having a moment, too, but not as we know it. Rather than the classic white tips and nude base, we’re seeing French-inspired styles like the ombré “French fade”, deconstructed French tips and the versatile double French emerging as the coolest ways to sport this classic manicure this year. Now there’s another take on the timeless nail look that has really captured our imagination.
Enter: the “invisible” French manicure.

What is the “invisible” French manicure?

Also known as a “negative space” French manicure, the “invisible” French is striking and instantly recognisable. Nail artist and OPI ambassador Iram Shelton describes the style as leaving “a negative space at the tip of your nails with ultra-fine lines creating what looks like an outline for a French tip.”
Unlike a traditional French manicure, however, there are lots of different iterations. “The invisible French is incredibly versatile and there are so many ways to be creative with it,” says session and celebrity manicurist Sophia Stylianou. “As we move into the summer months, for instance, experimenting with neon colours as the outline will be a popular choice.”
Shelton also loves the aesthetic opportunities that the invisible French provides. “White is always a popular choice as it’s very minimal, but I also love doing an ombré effect or even chromes. A silver or gold outline is always a good choice, too,” says Shelton.

What is the difference between the invisible French and a classic French manicure?

The immediately obvious difference between the invisible French manicure and the classic French is that there is no opaque white tip. “Traditionally, a French manicure is focused on highlighting the tip of the nail with a solid colour, most commonly a sheer nude base paired with a white tip,” explains Shelton. The invisible French, however, uses negative space where colour is classically used. “The negative space tip is definitely more minimal, yet it’s also more eye-catching,” says Shelton. “It’s popular year on year, but even more so in summer with pops of colour being used to outline the tip.” 

How do you achieve the invisible French manicure?

The best invisible French manicures require a steady hand to create that ultra-fine French tip outline, so for the most precise finish you’re undoubtedly best off asking for this style in a salon. However, if you do fancy trying it yourself at home then Shelton recommends getting a fine liner or detailing brush and taking it slowly. “It’s really quite simple; you just need to ensure that you take your time and keep that outline really thin,” she says. While you can have fun experimenting with different colours, the best invisible French manicures have an ultra-polished finish. “Always seal it with a top coat for that super glossy look,” advises Sophia. She suggests Bio Sculpture Ethos Mirror Top Coat, £12, for an ultra high shine finish.
Ahead, fine 11 of the best invisible French manicure trends.

Aperol Orange

While it’s often coined as a minimalist’s manicure, these vibrant orange tips by Anna Hughes prove that the invisible French can be head-turning, too. Nails Inc Neon Nail Polish in Walkers Court, £11, is the perfect shade to get the look at home.

Mirror Shine

The colour palette might be classic, but this manicure created at Tommy Nails salon takes the “clean girl” nail aesthetic to the next level with its hyper-glossy finish. 

Gold Details

If a full-coverage metallic nail feels a little much for everyday, make like nail artist Lauren Frances and try pairing a gold outline with a neutral base for a wearable approach to the colour. Barry M Gelly Hi Shine Nail Paint in Mistletoe, £3.99, will give you the expensive-looking gold finish without the price tag.

Electric Blue

If Instagram is anything to go by, blue is going to be a huge colour for 2024, with vibrant electric shades —like this one used by Nails By Lillian — dominating the most popular nail art designs for summer.

Two Tone

Why stick with one colour when you can use two? Nail artist Amy Le pairs a deep raspberry pink with a bubblegum bright for a playful twist on the invisible French.

Monochromatic Tips

There’s something so striking about flipping the classic white French tip entirely on its head and going for negative space black tips instead, like these ones by nail artist Cara Jayne. For the perfect at-home black nail polish, so many nail artists swear by Essie Nail Lacquer in 88 Licorice, £8.99.

Granny Smith

The lush apple green shade used by Georgie Chambers feels fresh, vibrant and unexpected — a really cool take on a simple nail look. Try Manucurist Green Nail Polish in Brazil, £14, if you want to recreate it.

Pastel Precision

It’s not just the mismatched pastel shades to adore in this Nails by Emma manicure; it’s the juxtaposition of the soft colours and negative space with the sharp and edgy square tips. 

Ombré Blush

Forget what you know about the invisible French: Nail artist Aistė Haas has used a vibrant fuchsia pink to fill the tips of her blank space manicure and an ombré effect to diffuse the colour through the lengths of the nail.


Taking a grown-up approach to glitter, nail artist Hang Nguyen’s beautiful glitter-drenched manicure is a subtle take on sparkly nails. Don’t worry about layering different polishes, Sally Hansen Insta Dri Nail Polish in Powerslide, £4.99, has an opaque black base that’s packed with head-turning silver sparkles.

Strikingly Simple

Finally, is there anything more stylish than a timeless take on the invisible French? Taking the colours of a classic French manicure but removing the solid tip looks incredibly chic. 

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