Ever since my first visit to Paris as a 19 year old, I have an admiration for how French women care for themselves. Looking out my hotel window the morning after I arrived, I watched Parisians walking, walking, walking, looking stunningly healthy and gorgeous. Seeing the beautiful older women, wearing scads of jewelry, high heels, coifed to perfection, I remember wishing my mother and grandmother looked so elegant and chic.
It’s never too late to take a tip or two from the French, and as I am at the tail end of my fifties, I am looking for as many tips as possible from the ladies who do beautiful with such refinement. One such tip is for healthy, natural nails, and comes from my new guide, “Forever Chic: Frenchwomen’s Secret for Timeless Beauty, Style and Substance,“ by Tish Jett:
“Never have I seen chipped polish on either the hands or the feet of a Frenchwoman. For a softer look – pristine nails with natural white tips (as opposed to a “French manicure,” which is not French by the way; it was invented by an American man) – soak fingertips in a cup of warm water with the juice of one lemon and four tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide.
An orange stick wrapped in cotton, dipped in the liquid, and swiped under the nails is the perfect finish. At the same time, push down the now-soft cuticles. The addition of the lemon juice, a trick from Elodie, was news to me.
Next, a white nail pencil swiped under the tips, and voila. A quick, light – never vigorous – buff or a pale, pale pink polish and you have the low maintenance manicure of the vast majority of Frenchwomen of a certain age.”
I love the simplicity of this home manicure, and the cleanness of the nails that result. Sometimes I use a sugar scrub or acid peel around my fingertips before a manicure to loosen up any dead skin, and leave fingertips smooth and silky.