How to Perfect a French Tip: The Smile Line Technique

When it comes to timeless and elegant nail designs, the French tip remains a classic favorite. A well-executed French tip adds a touch of sophistication and glamour to any manicure. Whilst a French manicure looks simple, they are notoriously hard to do! 

French Tip nails have developed significantly over the past few years. The ‘Smile Line’ French is now more popular than the traditional straight tip and is characterized by high edges with a deep curve towards the free edge of the nail. In this blog, we will explore different techniques and tips to help nail technicians perfect their Smile Line French tip application, ensuring flawless results which your clients will love.

Model with french manicure


Once you have completed the base, whether that be a builder gel, acrylic base or a standard base coat, make sure to wipe the nail surface with acetone to eliminate any oils or residues. This step creates a completely clean base and allows better adhesion of the French Tip. It also helps with more precise applications as dehydrating the base ensures the gel polish won’t bleed.

Traditional Brush Application

The traditional method involves using a liner nail brush to apply the gel nail polish directly onto the free edge of the nail. This technique requires precision and steady hand control to create a clean and even line. There are a couple of ways you can get the perfect smile line when drawing free hand and it is a case of trial and error to find which one you prefer!

Firstly you can draw a line up each side of the nail, then draw a diagonal line from each side to the midpoint of the free edge. You are then left with two triangles that you just need to fill in! This method is helpful when trying to create that symmetry we all want!

The other option is to paint a straight line across the free edge of the nail (as if you were doing a traditional French Tip), then draw a semi-circle to meet the straight line before filling in the gaps. Again, everyone prefers different methods when it comes to free-hand painting, so give them a try and see what works for you.

An image of abstract french nails with black nail polish

Removal Method

The removal method has come about more recently but people are loving it! This technique is a little messier, as it includes covering the bottom half of the nail with the French gel polish and then using a nail brush with acetone to carve out the desired curve. This takes away the precision required from free-hand painting and is especially useful for those with shaky hands or struggling with fine detail.

This method is also great to use when a second coat of the French Tip is required. So you would use the traditional liner brush method for the first coat, cure it and then completely cover it with the second coat. While it’s still wet, you can use your nail brush to sculpt the shape to perfectly match the coat below. Let’s face it, getting it perfect twice in a row is no easy feat!

Dip Tool Method

French tip dip tools are specifically designed to help create a uniform and precise French Tip. These tools usually consist of a base with a curved edge and a handle for easy grip. Dip the curved edge of the tool into white polish and press it onto the nail, starting from one side and moving towards the center. Repeat on the other side for a symmetrical tip. This method provides a quick and efficient way to achieve consistent French tips. We don’t recommend using this tool on short nails as it is much less effective and will likely end up with lots of gel nail polish on the skin!

An image of french gel nails with orange nail polish and matte top coat

Work by @kovalenko__nails__

Top Tip: Try these methods to create colored French Tips. Our favorite at the moment is emerald green gel!

Now you’re fully equipped with all the best methods for creating the perfect French Tip, you’ll be a master in no time! French nails are much harder than they look, so be patient with yourself, you’ll find the method that works for you the more you practice. Make sure to tag @Miss_dolla_nails in your French Tip pics! We can’t wait to see them!