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What Is An American Manicure? [Everything You Want To Know]

You’ve probably heard of a French manicure. But what about an American manicure? This new choice in nail style has become a rising trend, seen all over the world. But there’s a good chance you don’t even recognize it by name! What does it include, how does it differ, where do you get one? These are just some of the questions we will answer here today.

First, what is an American manicure? An American manicure is a softer, more natural-looking version of the French manicure. Instead of a bright white, the nail tip is painted a softer, ivory color. It’s closer to the natural tone of your skin, making it a beautiful and subtle option. It can be used to describe the style on natural nails, as well as extensions, overlays, and acrylics.

The American manicure is trendy, offered widely – and usually only chosen by people already very familiar with different types of manicure. 

So by the end of this article, you should be in a much better position to decide whether it is or not for you.

French vs. American Manicure: What’s The Difference?

French manicures have a pink- or beige-colored polish for the majority of the nail, with a bright white tip. An American manicure has a more natural look. The tone might be similar, with flesh and cream colors being the most common. The tip is usually nude, off-white, or ivory.

You’re definitely familiar with French manicures. 

These are actually what most people think of when they think “manicure”: The pink, beige, or nude polish, with the glaring white tip in the traditional moon shape. 

It was a popular look for most of the 2000s but has come into fashion before and since, making it one of the most popular manicures on the market.

Even today, it’s considered one of the most popular options.

But an American manicure? That, you might not have heard of.

The main difference between the two is the tone. 

The American is a more neutral, natural look than the French manicure. 

Instead of bright pink for the base, a nude or more neutral pink is more common. 

This better matches your natural nail’s color. The tip, too, is closer to what you naturally have. 

While the French is white, the American is a softer ivory, off-white, or even just a brighter flesh tone.

This means that an American is a better choice for people who want a nice manicure but don’t want to look like they spend hours a week at the salon. 

With the American, you have something that looks more natural than the French while still looking polished and put together. 

It’s a great choice for a variety of occasions, or no occasion at all.

What Does An American Manicure Include?

A standard American manicure includes nail shaping, cuticle cleaning, the styling itself, and an application of cuticle oil. Exactly what type of styling depends on your choice. You can often choose acrylics or gel nails with your manicure but can also get it on your natural nail. Some salons may offer extra perks, such as massage or soaks, but it isn’t guaranteed.

Like with many manicures done for the look and not the experience, an American manicure is mostly no-frills. 

You’ll get your nails taken care of, but there isn’t any guarantee of any extras, such as massage or soaks.

With an American manicure, you’re here for the style!

The first thing you’ll get is your nails shaped. 

This is particularly important if you’re having a look applied to your natural nails. 

Even if you’re getting acrylic nails or gels, it’s still an important part of the process. 

You can expect them to be filed down and buffed, along with any other prep that might need to be done for acrylics, gels, or anything else.

Cuticles are next. You can count on them being cleaned, at the very least. 

This will result in healthier cuticles and nicer nails. 

Many salons will offer cuticle-pushing as part of the package, though it isn’t something that’s guaranteed. 

Call ahead if you want to be sure. Reminder: Do not let anyone cut your cuticles!

The polish comes next. 

A base coat will be applied first. 

Then, the salon tech will begin to apply the different color coats. 

You can either decide on the colors themselves, or the tech will base it on your skin tone. 

The tips will always be an off-white or light-nude color. A topcoat is added.

The last step is normally the application of cuticle oil for healthier nails all around. 

They’ll apply a small amount of oil per nail and allow it to soak in for a few minutes before they remove any of the excesses.

Some salons might offer extra as part of the massage. This can include things such as soaks, massages, and even scrubs. 

However, these can cost extra and shouldn’t be expected parts of the experience. Call ahead if you want to be sure, and be ready to pay.

How Long Does An American Manicure Last?

The amount of time an American manicure lasts depends upon the type of nail you choose. Acrylics and gel will last longer than polish on natural nails. This look can last for as little as five days or as long as two months. 

Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer here. 

The American manicure is more of a style than an actual type of nail. 

You can choose acrylics, gels, your natural nails. 

Almost any choice under the sun! And that means that how long it lasts varies just as greatly as the types of nail. 

Note: Not all salons will offer these options. Call ahead to determine which ones come with the package and which ones cost extra!

If you’re lucky enough to have natural nails the right length for an American manicure, then you’ll have the shortest amount of time with your look.

Generally, you’ll only have the polish applied and not the tips or other extensions. 

This means, on average, you can expect it to last five days to a week before it begins to chip, peel, or otherwise deteriorate. 

Here’s the good news: 

This is a cheap enough option that you probably won’t mind going back to the salon!

Gels are another popular choice, and they certainly last longer. 

Whether you’re just getting a natural-length polish, or an overlay or extension, you can count on the gel lasting longer. 

Two weeks is about the average, though it can last longer if you’re careful. 

Conversely, if you’re rough on your nails, it might not last the entire fourteen days. Being careful pays!

Acrylics last the longest. Four weeks is likely the minimum you can expect, with six weeks being closer to the average.

If you’re careful, they can last as long as eight weeks! For a long-lasting American manicure, this is a top option.

How To Make An American Manicure Last Longer

Avoid being rough on your hands. Don’t expose nails to harsh chemicals or hot water. Be careful about sun exposure. An occasional topcoat might prevent chipping.

Once you have your American manicure, you’re going to want to keep it pristine for as long as humanly possible. 

Even if you’ve gone with the option that lasts the shortest time, you can find ways to squeeze extra days out of your manicure. It isn’t difficult to do. 

Just being mindful of your nails and taking a few precautions can work wonders!

Be Gentle On Your Nails

First, be gentle on your nails. This might seem obvious, but so many people end up with a chipped nail (or even with an acrylic ripped off!) because they use their nails as tools in everyday life. 

When you have a nice manicure, you can’t really afford to be peeling apart plastic, applying pressure to the tips of the nails, or accidentally smacking your nails on something hard. 

Learning to use the pads of your fingers is a must when it comes to preserving your manicure!

Avoid Harsh Chemicals 

Another issue? Harsh chemicals. Whether it’s nail polish remover (avoid at all costs) or something like cleaning products, avoid getting them on your nails. 

This can cause discoloration, weakening, and many other problems. Wear gloves!

Avoid Hot Water

Something else you should wear gloves for? Exposure to hot water. 

Heat is a problem for nails, and the most common source of such high heat is water. This might happen during a long bath or while you’re washing dishes. 

If you’re going to be exposing your nails to hot water for a long time, wear gloves. For something like washing your hands, you should be fine.

Avoid Too Much Sunshine 

UV rays can have a negative impact on some types of nail. 

Not all, but some. 

Before you leave your salon, ask what prolonged exposure to bright sunlight can do to your nails. 

There are some manicure choices you don’t want to bring to the beach!

Consider Topcoat

Lastly, ask your nail tech whether you can apply an occasional top coat to make the look last longer. 

This is a better choice for some nails than others. 

Natural nails, for example, will likely love a top coat! Others, not so much. Ask a tech, and make sure your topcoat is appropriate.

How Much Does An American Manicure Cost?

Depending on the type of nail, you can expect to pay $30 or more for your American manicure.

Like the French manicure, an American manicure is always going to be a more expensive choice. 

Even the simplest – polish on natural nails – is expensive because a lot of work goes into making sure the design of the nails is absolutely perfect. 

This isn’t a single color polish; it’s an entire step-by-step system.

Because of this, the least you can expect to pay is $30. 

This isn’t too much, coming in at about the same price as a French manicure. 

But it’s important to note what this might include. 

For some salons, this price is only for the polish. 

Any acrylics, gel overlays, or tips of any sort might be extra. It’s important that you be sure before making your appointment. 

Always call ahead, and ask questions before making your appointment. 

Most salons are happy to help and will answer your questions before putting you in the schedule.

How To Save Money On An American Manicure

Choose polish over natural nail, rather than a tip or overlay. Skip extras, like massages or scrubs. Squeeze in extra days by being careful. DIY it, either with a kit or with your own supplies.

There are many ways that you can make an American manicure more affordable. It definitely doesn’t have to be expensive. 

You can save money either right from the beginning or by being mindful later on after you’ve had your manicure.

Choose Sensibly 

First, choose the cheapest option: Polish on your natural nail. Most salons will charge extra for tips, overlays, and other falsies. 

If yours is one of them, consider growing out your nails and letting them apply polish directly to the nail. Shaping is usually included! 

Other extras to skip include massages, scrubs, and soaks. If it doesn’t come with the manicure, skip it! You’ll save money.

Be Careful 

After you’ve gotten your nails done, you can keep from making a premature return trip by being careful. 

This will save you the money for a new manicure, making it great for someone who always has their nails done. 

Follow our instructions above, and your manicure will last longer than before!


Lastly, if you’re up to it, DIY! There are kits you can buy to make it easy, or you can use your own nail supplies. 

Unless you’re an expert, they probably won’t be as nice as a manicure from a professional. But to try it out, or for something less than formal? 

Worth a try!

Where To Get An American Manicure

Most nail salons will offer an American manicure; and not just in America. This is a globally known and recognized mani. So call or enquire at your local salons or use Google to find those who offer this service.

Good news! An American manicure is available in more than just America.

You can find this lovely look outside of the USA, in many different countries. 

It’s popular around the world, and more and more salons are offering it to their customers.

Bad news: You’re probably not going to find it at every salon. 

While it’s becoming very popular, the American isn’t as widespread as the French manicure – yet.

This means that you’ll need to do a little extra digging to find someone that offers it. 

That might sound scary, but rest easy – it isn’t!

Call your local salons. 

Even if they don’t offer it, they might know a salon that does.

Don’t be shy! It’s worth it, in the end.

Prefer searching on the internet? 

No problem! A Google search for American manicures will probably help pinpoint salons nearby that offer the manicure.


And that is an American manicure in a nutshell.

You will likely now see why it is becoming so popular.

Besides, you’re probably considering it yourself now, right?

And why not; give it a go, see if it’s for you.

It’s worth it for the change alone.

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