Enigmatic Charm: The Tempting Allure of Understated Muted French Manicures

French manicures are like the bangs of nail art—both waver in and out of popularity, but it seems like a new version is always trending. The latest spin on the classic French manicure is a patriotic one: technically called the American French manicure, but it also goes by the moniker “muted French manicure.” Whatever you want to call it, it’s undeniably chic and elegant.


What is the Muted French Manicure?
“The muted French manicure is a twist on the classic French mani, creating a seamless blend of both contrasting colors to appear ‘muted,’” explains Amy Ling Lin, Founder & CEO of Sundays. “It’s a great alternative when you’re indecisive and don’t want to opt for a solid color or a French mani. It also creates the look of longer nails, which is always a perk.”

Since the lines are subtle, it puts an elevated spin on a classic French. Celebrity nail artist Elle explains that “any manicure (aka the ‘baby boomer’ or the ombre) where it’s not a stark line to a French” counts as a muted French mani. “You’re either using a finish or color to make a blend, or the colors are very close in shade to each other so it has a monotone effect with definition,” she adds.


The Trend
Though muted French manis are one of the latest barely-there manicures filling our feeds, Elle argues the look isn’t actually new. “I don’t think this is a trend,” she says. “This is a style that’s been worn for many years, since before the ’80s.” She credits its upswing to its low-maintenance factor. “With the baby bare, natural nail movement, I think people don’t want to spend a lot of time coordinating their manicure and wardrobe, so this makes it a given and the grow out won’t be as noticeable,” Elle says.

Lin points out that the muted French mani is essentially no makeup-makeup for your nails, another popular aesthetic that’s still going strong. “I believe this look is trending because it gives the classic French a modern feel and really plugs into that polished, barely there look that we all opt for in the hot summer months,” she says. “I believe the muted French manicure trend stems from the recent Vanilla French Manicure which has a similar soft and blended look. That’s the best part about nail design—it’s a blank canvas for exploring creativity and leaves so much room for updates to the classics that we all know and love.”


Get the Look
Another plus of the muted French mani is its versatility. “I can see this being a great go-to look for any occasion but specifically popular for wedding season,” Lin says. To DIY the style, follow Lin’s tips:

Step 1: “Just like the classic French mani, well-prepared nails are the key to achieving this look,” Lin says. “Start by properly cleaning your nails and removing old nail polish with an acetone-free polish remover like our Pr. 01 ($28).”

Step 2: “Once your nails are prepped and ready, apply a base coat like our B.01 ($18) to help prevent nails from getting stained or yellow, making your mani last longer and avoiding nail polish from chipping,” Lin says.

Step 3: To achieve a muted French mani opt for a sheer neutral color for the base color. “We used two coats of Sundays no. 02 ($18) as the base color and a slightly off white/beige shade like our no. 48 as the French tip,” Lin says. “Depending on your skills you may use a French design brush or tape to paint the tip. Always make sure to allow time in between coats for a seamless finish.”

Step 4: “Finish it off with our T.01 top coat ($18),” Lin says. “As with any manicure, allow time for your nails to fully dry off before getting back to your daily tasks.”

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