How To Get The Monochrome Manicure

Nail the classic beauty trend

Done well, monochrome nails are the ultimate statement manicure. Here’s what you need to know to perfect the look.


Just like old Hollywood, black and white nails hark back to old-world glamour. “I love classic nail colours, and black and white are perfect monochromatic classics,” says Jocelyn Petroni, Chanel manicurist. “Both colours are pigment rich so they stand out on the nail plate to make a beautiful, bold statement.”


To keep white nails looking modern, a blunt manicure is key. “A short, natural nail shape will wear white polish best,” advises Petroni. “It complements the hands without becoming too stark or heavy set.” It’s a similar story when going dark. “Black nails must be short and neat to keep this colour elegant and sophisticated.”


Go for white: if you have a medium or warm skin tone. “Its neutral and clean finish complements the nails and makes them look healthy,” explains Petroni.

Steer clear of white: if you are very fair or have blueish undertones. “Avoid white if your skin tone is cool and super pale,” she says.

Go for black: this inky shade works on all skin types. “Black has depth and warmth that works against all skin tones and age groups,” adds Petroni.


Maintenance is key with monochrome. Petroni recommends applying a daily topcoat to keep nails looking fresh for longer. “Wash and dry your hands before applying the topcoat, to wash away surface oil and debris,” she says. “Do this every day and your polish will remain chip resistant and glossy.”


A black manicure looks super chic, but it needs to be flawless. “Black polish is unforgiving and must be chip free and perfectly applied to keep it looking sophisticated,” says Petroni. Here’s how to nail the look.


Keep steady: “Rest the inner wrists of both hands on a steady surface to stabilise your hands and steady your painting,” suggests Petroni.

Reapply: “Always apply two coats of colour,” she says. “This way you can fix any stand-out errors with the second coat.”

Retouch: “Touch up around the cuticle using a polish-remover-soaked cotton tip,” says Petroni.

Top coat: “Apply a topcoat to smooth down lumps and bumps in the polish,” she adds. “It gives a smooth, gel-like finish.”

Try: Chanel Le Vernis nail polish in Pure Black and Pure White, $41 each

Chanel nail polish
Chanel nail polish

This article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of marie claire.

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