1.Hit the drugstore or beauty supply center to pick up your tools: base/top coat, tip guide strips, neutral polish and white polish. Neutral polishes are very pale, sheer shades with a pink, beige or peach cast. Consider kits that offer everything in one convenient box.
2.Clip, file and shape your nails. Tend to your cuticles, then wash and dry your nails completely. Apply the base/top coat and let it dry.
3.Peel off a guide strip and affix it below the tip of a nail, following its natural curve. The guide will allow you to paint an even white tip with ease and precision.
4.Decide where to place the guide strips based on the length of your nails. In general, the longer the nail, the longer the white tip should be. Make sure that the arch of the guide is smooth and rounded and that the tip lengths are all relatively consistent.
5.Paint each nail tip white, extending the brush stroke from the top of the guide to the end of the nail. Take care not to get any white polish on the body of the nail below the guide. Let the tips dry.
6.Remove all the guides. Dissolve leftover adhesive by rubbing it gently with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.
7.Apply two coats of the neutral polish, letting the first coat dry before the second application. Finish with a thin layer of base/top coat.
Limit neutral polish to one coat if you find that a second coat is too opaque.
If the classic french manicure is a little too conservative for your style, make your own color combination. Instead of neutral and white polishes, use red with black tips, red with gold tips or white with silver tips.
Give yourself time to practice. It may take awhile to get the hang of applying the tip guides. The point of an orange stick may help you position them.
Warnings: Keep your hands very still as the polish dries to avoid denting or smudging it.