If you’re an avid TikTok watcher/scroller, you’ve probably spotted the girlies talking about a Russian manicure. And if you’re anything like us, you might have come to a scrolling screeching halt to learn more about this “pristine, photoshop-like, heavenly, and over five weeks lasting manicure.”
But even after checking out a few videos and pics and stalking Jasmine Tooke’s and Kendall Jenner’s pages to see what the fuss is all about, you might not have discovered much about the Russian manicure, which is why we’re coming to your rescue – nail rescue!
Below, we discuss what it is, the Russian manicure process step by step, and why the experts don’t want you copying Jasmine and Kendall. (yes, it has become that controversial. It is currently illegal in some states!).
So, sit back, get your nail oils and massagers ready, and let’s learn everything that it is a Russian manicure. Oh, and we added six of our favorite Russian mani looks so far!
What Is A Russian Manicure?
Russian manicures have been said to have originated from, you guessed it, Russia!
But this technique, also called dry manicure or e-file manicure, was created in the early 90s by Russian nail experts looking to achieve manicures that could handle their area’s incredibly harsh and cold temperatures.
They also wanted manicures that offered long-lasting results – after hours of experimentation; the experts realized that focusing on detailed cuticle removal and nail shaping was the perfect way to execute their vision.
Which is how Russian manicures set themselves apart from traditional manicures. Instead of dipping your hands in water, the nail technician uses an electric drill bit to file down your cuticles and shape the nails.
It’s all about the prep work and flawlessly groomed cuticles. Also, the polish is placed right to the extreme edges of your nail bed, making it seem as if your nails were painted by Picasso, which is why the girlies have been calling it a “Photoshopped manicure.”
How To Do A Russian Manicure
There are a couple of steps involved in a Russian manicure:
1. Contrary to traditional manicures, where the fingers are soaked in warm water to soften dead cells, Russian manicures involve cleaning the cuticle immediately. They do this using electric nail drills – one for cleaning the nail bed and another for removing the cuticle.
2. The second step involves polishing and designing the nail bed into the desired shape.
3. Once everything looks clean and neat, the nail tech will apply a limited edition (for Russian manicures only) base coat. The coat is applied to the tips depending on the strength of your nails.
4. Now comes the time for the Russian manicure gel (non-toxic hard gel polish, to be exact. The expert applies it using an artist’s brush and then seals it with a top coat.
Although this process sounds similar to your typical gel manicure, it is different in that the polish is applied close to your cuticle using a precise, thin brush to help prevent that icky, outgrown look. The application process is also highly detailed, so it takes hours to get it done.
If you need a visual, this is what they typically do. (PSA: don’t try this at home. Get it done by a professional for that Kendall Jenner finish!)
The Potential Risks Of Doing A Russian Manicure
As evident in our colorful title, there has been a lot of controversy concerning Russian manicures.
While the technique is quite popular and widely practiced, Russian manicures have plenty of potential risks, especially to your cuticles.
In fact, a Russian manicure is illegal in some states (drilling off the cuticle brings up plenty of safety concerns).
Also, the American Academy of Dermatology does not recommend cuticle removal procedures. Trimming cuticles makes it easier for bacteria and germs to penetrate your body and cause infections.
Russian manicures might also cause:
Nail and skin damage – improper use of the electric file and drill can lead to excessive filing of the cuticles, leading to skin damage. It might also cause thinning and weakening of the nails, which triggers nail peeling and breakage.
Pain/discomfort – If the nail tech drills too aggressively, it can cause pain during the manicure. This can be especially troubling to babes with sensitive skin and nails.
Hyperpigmentation – constant abrasion to your proximal nail fold triggers hyperpigmentation – especially in people of color – and skin build-up in response to skin injury and irritation.
Ummm…Are There Any Upsides To This Manicure At All?
Yes, there are.
1. Unlike other manicure options that prioritize length, shape, and design, Russian manicures focus on the health of the nails (when you find a nail artist specializing in Russian manicures). No toxic gels, no harmful acrylic extensions.
2. The nail techs use e-files that allow for precise, clean manicure results without water or cuticle removers. This also helps prevent your nails from swelling with water, which can cause nail dehydration, splitting, product lifting, and more.
3. They are durable, long-lasting (from three to six weeks), and look photoshopped (gorgeous).
That Said, Here Are 6 Of Our Favorite Russian Manicure Looks So Far
So, while we don’t encourage you to get your cuticles removed, we love how polished and clean the Russian manicure is.
And so, if you’re looking for a design to steal, here are five of our favorite looks from the Tiktok and IG girlies:
These Barbies Nails By @thepaintboxstudio.tampa
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How cute are these? Adorable!
Deep Blue Sea Russian Mani
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Yas! You don’t have to go with the neutrals, blush, pink or white nails. Go bold with some blue!
Natural Dry Manicure
@nmkajumulo yall ALREADY KNOWWW about me and my russian manicures!! im so obsessed its always so clean and beautiful and stunning and gorgeous!!! just come with me to get my nails done and see the process its worth eveey single penny i cant even lie! #nailvlog #dailyvlog #comewithmetogetmynailsdone #nailsartvideos #russianmanicure #drymanicure #russianmanicuretutorial #russianmanicureseattle #cleannails #cleancuticles #howtotrimcuticles #perfectnails #diynails #diynailsathome #russianmanicureathome ♬ original sound – nia kajumulo
We love how she took us through the whole process
@annxxelle This is the best high maintence/ low maintenance thing that i do. Nails stay perfect & NEVER CHIP! #russianmanicure #nailsart #nailinspo2023 #ditl #maintenancedayblackgirl #nailsoftiktok #blackgirl ♬ original sound – AJ
If we’re spending over $80 on a manicure, it better stand out. And this babe’s nail did just that!
Black Russian Manicure
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Yes lawd! Black is beautiful, y’all!
Red Has Never Looked So Sexy
@dilaambeauty My nails are stronger and longer. #RussianManicure #RedNails #SelfcareDay #Londonliving #Aesthetic #ThatGirl #BrautyMaintenance ♬ is there someone else intro
💕 💕🔥 🔥
And Then There Was This Babe
@nmkajumulo yall 😂😂 HELPPP idk if i made a mistake or if i just need to grow my nails out a bit! But anyway come get a russian manicure with me 🏽🏽🏽 i love doing these nail vlogs and taking you guys with me for the process! #russianmanicure #nailvlog #maintenanceday ♬ original sound – nia kajumulo
What do you think? Biggest nail mistake or nah?
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does A Russian Manicure Last?
Most manicures last from one to three weeks. Russian manicures offer three to six weeks of longevity, making them worth the steep price point.
Remember that this depends on your nail artist, technique, and how fast your nails grow.
How Much Is A Russian Manicure?
Before heading over to have your Russian mani, ensure you’ve eaten, done all the pending work, and are ready to sit for about three to five hours. Yes, it takes that much time. You might even have your braids done before the designs and additional nail artwork are completed.
As for a Russian manicure cost, the price depends on your location and if you want to add some bells and whistles like some cool nail art designs or even a fingers-relaxing massage.
Where Can You Get A Russian Manicure?
Even though Kendall Jenner, Jasmine Tookes, and every TikTok girlie got us to think about Russian manicures, the methodology requires special training, professionalism, and sterilized equipment (it’s like what a dentist is to the medical profession).
So, because Russian manis are not as commonly offered as acrylics and gels, you can’t go with cheap and cheerful.
You want to choose a reputable salon or qualified practitioner, and when you do, be sure to ask:
- If they have specialized training in this technique (you don’t want your nail bed dying off after, chile!). If you’re looking for a school that offers expert-approved Russian manicure training, Profi Nails or Seir Beauty School is perfect.
- How long they’ve been practicing (from three years onwards would be best)
- If they can and are willing to prove that they use sterilized equipment (again, you want your nails looking healthy)
If you’re not happy or comfortable, don’t feel guilty about walking away! You deserve premium service, sis!