Russian Manicures 101: What Is It and Is It Safe? (2024)

Russian Manicures 101: What Is It and Is It Safe? (1)Russian Manicures 101: What Is It and Is It Safe? (2)

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If you’ve spent more than five minutes on social media scrolling for #nailinspo on TikTok or Instagram, you’ve spotted the trending Russian Manicure. And if you’re anything like us, you came to a screeching scrolling halt as you admired its flawless beauty and thought, “OMG, where can I get a mani like that?” Supermodels, celebs, and influencers alike (Kendall Jenner, Jasmine Tookes, and Hailey Bieber to name a few) have all fallen in love with the Russian Manicure, a manicure technique for the clean, pristine look that results from this meticulous, labor-intensive, and unique practice.

In a Russian Manicure, the nail polish (which can be regular or gel polish), is placed right up to extreme edges of the nail bed, making your nails look like they were painted by the steadiest hands ever—and because of the intense training required by nail techs to create a Russian Manicure, that isn’t far from the truth. So what really makes a Russian Manicure different from the rest? We did a deep dive with Lana Kars, Russian Manicure expert, and the owner of Russian Nails Salon in New York City.

About the Expert:

Lana Kars is a Russian Manicure expert, and the owner of Russian Nails Salon in New York City.

So what is a Russian Manicure?

Also known as an “e-file manicure” or electronic file manicure, the Russian Manicure gets its name and reputation from the multi-step manicure process that has been done by Russian nail technicians for years. Unlike traditional manicures and regular gel manicures, which involve just soaking the nail to soften the cuticle, pushing the cuticle back, and trimming it, the Russian Manicure involves a dry process of filing, cutting, and removing the cuticle with electric drill bits entirely for a clean, edge-less look. “The e-file machine gently removes the cuticle, while leaving no roughness or damage on the skin,” says Lana Kars, owner of Russian Nails Salon in New York City. This is where the importance of training comes in. “The advantage of this method is that it eliminates the need to pre-steam the nails in hot water and then cut off excess skin. The tools do not have sharp elements and after the procedure, they are necessarily sterilized in an autoclave with hot steam (like in hospitals),” Kars tells us.

This also allows polish to be placed farther into the nail bed. “With a special stick, the nail tech slightly lifts the already treated skin at the base of the nail and applies polish under it,” Kars says. That’s the key to creating that signature seamless finish. Also, while a traditional mani involves a few steps and can typically take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, a Russian Manicure has several steps and can take longer. “If you want a Russian Manicure be prepared to sit for at least two hours, and if you decide on nail art, the time will increase even more. But it is definitely worth it,” she says.

Here’s a quick run-down of the process. After removing old polish and filing your nails with a special tool, your nails are expertly cleaned of all dry, flaky, excess skin. “The nail tech slightly pushes the nail and cleans dry skin from the lateral sinuses, (aka the areas between the nail and skin ridges). After that, they proceed to process the space under the cuticle with a (gentle) tool called a bullet or flame. At the end, the cuticle is slightly twisted out and cut off with a ball cutter at low speeds, and polished with another tool. At this step, the manicure is ready and you can proceed to the coating,” Kars explains. Sounds seriously intricate and totally satisfying to watch (cue: more Russian Manicure TikTok scrolling).

Is a Russian Manicure Safe?

In the hands of a trained professional—yes. In the hands of an inexperienced newbie—not so much. That’s because cutting the cuticle improperly can put you at risk for infection. On the topic of cutting cuticles, The American Academy of Dermatology states, “When you trim or cut your cuticles, it’s easier for bacteria and other germs to get inside your body and cause an infection. If you get a nail infection, it can sometimes take a long time to clear.”

That’s why, when it comes to getting a Russian Manicure, it's super important to be sure your nails are in the hands of an experienced nail technician. “A nail master must be chosen as responsibly as a dentist,” says Kars. She also adds that this is, “ideally one with a certificate of completion of professional courses, solid practice, and at a salon with an autoclave and an ultrasonic sterilizer, which we have at Russian Nails Salon.” Techs in her studio take online and offline courses and go through in-studio training days to strengthen their skills, follow strict infection control procedures, and you can see loads of happy clients all over their social media.

It’s also important to note that while it’s easy to find a boatload of DIY Russian Manicure tutorials online, the risks of damaging your nails from cutting excess skin, introducing infection, and hurting yourself are high and simply not worth it. When looking to get a Russian Manicure, be sure to vet your salon, read reviews, and ask about training.

What are the benefits of getting a Russian Manicure?

Besides having a stunning set of ten to show off, a Russian Manicure can benefit your nail health, mainly due to its long-lasting nature. We're talking three to four weeks depending on how fast your nails grow. And, Russian Pedicures are a popular, long-lasting option too. “After removing the cuticle with the machine, the cuticle does not grow back so quickly and the manicure stays neat longer,” says Kars. That’s less time in the nail salon chair, less frequent exposure to UV lights, and more moolah in your bank account.

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Russian Manicures 101: What Is It and Is It Safe? (2024)

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