A Guide To The Russian Manicure

We live in a society that can be highly stressful, where a lot of people tend to unconsciously bite their nails or cuticles as a nervous regulator. It can easily become a habit, and those who find themselves doing it often find it hard to stop.

Nail-biting is an unhealthy habit because it can soften the nail beds, and make them more vulnerable to infection.

A Guide To The Russian Manicure

Additionally, the nails themselves tend to be softer, which can make it more difficult to apply false nails if the foundation is prone to snapping. 

Whether you work within a manual field or more of an office-based environment, day-to-day tasks can take their toll on the health of your nails.

It’s important to take correct care of your fingernails and hands because they can easily become damaged, cracked, or susceptible to infections. Our nails can be very powerful indicators that show when something is wrong with our overall health.

White spots or brittle nails can be signs that you need more protein or calcium in your diet, as there is less present in the blood. 

If you want to change your nail routine, or simply check that you are taking correct care of them, then you might want to find out about the cultural variants of the traditional manicure.

Something that has been debated recently is the prohibited method of Russian manicures. This guide will cover some frequently asked questions, and provide you with the information you need to decide whether you should try out a Russian manicure for yourself. 

What Is A Russian Manicure?

What Is A Russian Manicure

By definition, the Russian manicure involves a more invasive technique than regular manicures, and a small electronic file is used to remove the dead cuticle skin on the nail bed.

However, something that has caused this method to gain a lot of controversy is the way that the very small tip of the file is also used to remove live skin. These files are more commonly used with acrylic false nails, because of their abrasive nature.

That is why they are not often recommended for use on live nails, as they can cause possible damage or irritation to the nail beds as well as the surrounding skin. 

That said, more and more salons are using this method to create cleaner finishes to a lot of manicured nails. It can give a smoother, more put-together appearance, and it is definitely something that salons around the country are being asked about.

However, a lot of the time people who carry out a Russian manicure are criticized for cutting into live skin tissue that is important in creating a barrier against external bacteria that can cause infections. 



The skin surrounding the nail is there for a reason, and the live tissue that is removed during a Russian manicure leaves the nails more exposed.

There are four seals that are created around each nail, and by removing some or all of the cuticles that some manicurists believe to be dead tissue, can increase the likelihood of harmful bacteria entering the skin because of the broken seal.

This can be especially risky if you are someone who handles dirty products such as animal waste or even certain foods for a living. Cutting live skin is frowned upon within the manicure industry, and it is not the best way to take care of your nails.   

Higher Chance Of Infection

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Another criticism of the Russian manicure method is that the skin that has been removed, usually grows back significantly thicker.

This makes the job even more challenging for other nail technicians, as they want their customers to be satisfied with their job without causing additional damage to their nails.

Cutting into the skin damaged the natural barrier against infection, and while the salon might use sterile equipment, the nails are more exposed until the skin grows back. This means that a customer could get any kind of infection that is otherwise preventable. 

Exposing the nail and removing skin which serves a purpose has the added risk of creating additional irritation for someone who is more prone to allergic reactions.

Most nail technicians will coat the base of the nails in an oil or even sealing product. Because of the cuticle that has been removed, it means that they are putting foreign products onto broken skin.

Not only can this sting a lot and feel uncomfortable, it can cause an allergic reaction. 



Something that is even stranger about this whole method is that many nail and cosmetic schools and colleges are teaching this to their students.

This means that there are a lot of technicians who are starting out their professional careers without knowing the effects of the Russian manicure.

Some brands and tool creators have even gone as far as to argue that their products have been designed to prevent this from happening. 

However, there is evidence that a lot of salons are still using this method of manicure in spite of the concerns and risks that are associated with it.

Because of the more abrasive methods that are used for acrylic nails, it is proving hard to monitor how the files are being used. They are causing unnecessary damage to many people’s nails without them even knowing. 



Regardless of what it is called, using abrasive methods to make the skin around a nail look softer or smoother is microdermabrasion, which needs an esthetician license to be done legally.

The method of cutting away live tissue from the nails or any place in the body is not something that a lot of nail technicians or salon owners are qualified or licensed to do correctly.

Try to carefully examine your nail tech’s certificates and ask what they know about the Russian manicure technique. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why Do We Need Cuticles?

Your cuticles work as a barrier that can create a tight seal around the nail. It’s important to avoid cutting into it because it makes the nails a breeding ground for potentially harmful bacteria if this barrier has been damaged in some way. 

If The Skin Looks Dead, Why Can’t We Remove It?

It isn’t dead, it just looks that way because it is dehydrated. Try to take correct care of your nail beds and the surrounding skin using a high quality oil.

There are plenty on the market that have been made with cuticle skin in mind, but it could be worth speaking with your manicurist about what they would recommend.

Additionally, it is worth putting more effort into staying hydrated so that your cuticles don’t always look dead or dry. Drink plenty of water throughout the day for a couple of weeks, and you’ll be surprised by the improvement of your nails. 

If The Russian Manicure Is So Harmful, Why Is It So Widely Used?

A: So many people don’t understand that the skin removed is still live tissue, and that the Russian manicure method leaves the nails significantly more exposed to harmful bacteria than they need to be.

It is still very commonly used among salons and nail technicians throughout the country because they aren’t aware that what they are doing is wrong.

That is why there are a lot of cosmetology and beauty schools that are still encouraging their students to create a smoother finish using harmful files.

Improving knowledge of the skin, and its different forms, can allow a higher quality of manicured nails to be seen in the future. 

How Can I Avoid This At Home?

Invest in a good quality nail oil and try to keep your cuticles in good condition. This will prevent you from wanting to cut the dryer parts off and compromising the seal around the nails.

Stay hydrated and try to keep those around you informed about how harmful a Russian manicure can be on your natural nails. 


A Russian manicure can be harmful, because it often involves the use of highly abrasive tools that should not be used on bare nails. They only really exist to be use on tough acrylic nails.

Removing dry skin from the cuticles that is believed to be dead compromises the seal created by the skin, and can increase a person’s vulnerability to harmful bacteria that can create infection.

The Russian manicure method also involves applying nail products onto damaged skin, which can lead to allergic reactions for some clients. 

While it is not widely known that this can happen, the Russian method of manicuring is still commonly practiced in a lot of states. This is because many people aren’t aware of the risks, and continue to do it, in spite of not being licensed for it.

Take care of your own nails and let other people know about the risks that come from cutting the live skin. Try to stay hydrated and apply oils to your nails regularly.

This can help keep them in healthy condition, and prevent you from feeling tempted to cut the dryer parts away.