Home / News / What is a Russian Manicure? We Broke it Down

What is a Russian Manicure? We Broke it Down

Jul 13, 2023Jul 13, 2023

As a beauty editor, it’s safe to say that I’m always on the hunt for the latest trends and practices that promise to elevate my self-care routine—even though my self-care routine is already a bit lofty. During a recent BeautyTok scroll, I stumbled upon a nail care technique that has gained a ton of popularity on social media lately: the Russian manicure. Intrigued by its notable reputation for ultra-accurate precision and long-lasting results, I decided to find out exactly who this kind of treatment was best for (myself included).

The way I look at it, how you care for your nails speaks volumes about the way you care for the rest of the body. Because of this, I make it a point to always have my nails—at the very least—painted. Hangnails, chewed cuticles, and grown-out manicures are just not my speed. And, while gel polish and acrylics are good go-tos, the overall themes behind Russian manicures, which revolve around cuticle removal and nail sculpting, piqued my interest because of the way the technique focuses so heavily on overall nail care. But, are they worth the hype? Keep reading to find out exactly what a Russian manicure is, plus whether or not the manicure technique is right for you. (Hint: We think it just might be.)

As the name suggests, Russian manicures originated in Russia. This specific technique, which is also called “dry” or “e-file” manicures, was created in the 1990s by Russian nail technicians who wanted manicures that could withstand the temperatures of their area (read: harsh and extremely cold). They were also in search of creating a mani that could provide long-lasting results—which, same. After a lot of experimentation, these technicians realized that focusing on precise cuticle removal and nail shaping was the best method to achieve what they wanted.

Unlike traditional manicures that merely trim and shape the nails, this technique forgoes water and focuses on meticulous attention to detail. What truly sets Russian manicures apart is that they’re all about achieving flawlessly groomed cuticles. During a mani, the technician will use an electric file that gently and accurately removes excess cuticle buildup, which ultimately reveals clean and elongated nail beds. (Longer-looking natural nails are a major plus in our book.) But, because of the major attention to detail, expect a Russian manicure appointment to be a bit longer and pricer than a normal paint, gel, or acrylic mani. And aside from longer, cleaner nails, another thing we love about this method is that it helps manicures last for up to five (!) weeks.

Russian manicures have LITERALLY changed my life

♬ Good Vibes (Instrumental) – Ellen Once Again

A post shared by Russian Gel Manicure Chicago🇺🇸 (@znailschicago)

As with any beauty treatment, Russian manicures are safe when they’re done by trained and experienced nail technicians who know and care about what they’re doing. However, there is a risk to these kinds of manis for one main reason: the aggressive removal of the cuticles. (Although this sounds painful, it’s usually not.) If cuticles are removed improperly or too much cuticle is removed, it can damage the nail bed and create the risk of infection.

To avoid this, be sure to choose a qualified nail technician. (Just look for someone who has specific training for Russian manicures and go to a nail salon that you trust.) It’s also worth noting that you shouldn’t give yourself a Russian manicure or pedicure at home if you don’t know how to do it. Plus, the experience is much more relaxing when someone else is doing it for you.

Because Russian manicures go a step further than typical manis and completely remove the cuticle from the nail plate instead of simply pushing it back, the overall process is a bit different than you might be used to.

The process typically involves four main steps:

Step 1: Nail ShapingStep 2: Cuticle SofteningStep 3: Cuticle RemovalStep 4: Nail Buffing and PaintingStep 5: Hand and Nail Care