DIY: Make Your Own YSL Couture Manicure

YSL couture manicure dupes

So last weekend I mostly spent doing a spot of DIY. Not on my sadly neglected flat, which is in sore need of a duster flipped across its grubby surfaces, but on my nails.

Well, not on my actual nails. No. For since we saw the expensive wonder and delight that is AW10's Manucure Couture from YSL, I've been concocting alternatives in my head. Weeks ago I gathered all the shades I reckoned would work for an inspiration post, and made purchase of a couple of packs of false nails upon which to work my magic.

They've all been gathering dust since. But I finally got time to knuckle down and create some alt-manis of my own, using my trusty stash and a packet or two of  stick on nails. I didn't set out to find exact dupes for the YSL shades, but rather to give myself - and you guys - some inspiration for how to ape the trend with colours you might already own.

So, what works?

Straight off the bat, let me say I think that unless you're really good at painting on French tips (and I'm not, as you can clearly see below), the easiest way to do this look is to do what CND did with their metallic reverse-French at New York Fashion week and paint your chosen colours onto stick-on nails. You'll have far more control and you'll also ensure that your left (or right) hand won't look a complete bollocks to boot.

So, here's what I came up with. I went a bit mad, and did a pile of brights, some darks and then some more glitters. Lets kick off with the brights, shall we?

bright french manis

Here's the lot. Want a closer look?

manis up close

Image 1, left, clockwise from bottom (nail paint first, tip paint second):

Image 2, top right, left to right (nail paint first, tip paint second)

Image 3, bottom right, left to right (nail paint first, tip paint second)


Now to the darks:

dark manis

From left, (base shade first, tip shade second)

And the glitters and metallics:

glitter mani

From left, (base shade first, tip shade second)

And this is what I used:

nail polishes

Here are just a few of the shades I called into play - I didn't want to bore you with 40 pics of polish, so you're getting this pretty montage instead.


As I painted and Frenched, a few things became very clear about this whole thing:

  • Jelly shades do NOT work
  • Neither does anything that requires more than three coats to achieve opacity
  • Cheaper brands like Rimmel, Barry M and Bourjois came up trumps here thanks to easy-to-use brushes, thick one coat (or two max) formulas and good, opaque creme colours
  • As a result, thinner salon brands didn't fare too well for my purposes, needing too many layers and therefore being useless for tip painting (especially over dark colours), unless you've got the veritable patience of a saint (I don't)
  • Shimmers and cremes/cremes and cremes/contrasting colours/darks vs brights/tone-on-tone all work really well for this look
  • Glitter tips look good with EVERYTHING
  • The best nails for this are something like Pro-Impressions Designer Nails, €5.99, thanks to the tip which you can break off before application (see pic below). You may need to do a bit of clean-up on the tips but they make it so easy to get an even finish with as little mess as possible
  • If you can, try to get nails without a French finish  - they're ridged, and you can see it through the polish. If you can't, a quick buff would take down the line, and give you a key for polish as well
  • With regards to most of the above, it also occurred to me about a third of the way through this task that YSL knew all of the above with regards to polish consistency and brushes, and that is why the Manucure Couture polishes themselves are so bloody good at quickly achieving the desired look, in pretty much one streak-free coat each. In fact, I'd say they're actually worth the money as they take all the hassle out of the process. Who knew? WELL, YOU DO NOW!



I painted these the wrong way round for demonstration purposes, mostly because it was easier - the tip of the nail is actually where the plastic tab is, just FYI. So you'd need to break it and file down the tip a little, which may necessitate some tidy-up work. Or, you could paint the base colour first, allow it to dry, break the tab and clean it up, and then paint on your French tip. Phew.

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