Unlocking The Secrets Of The Russian Manicure: A Step-By-Step Guide

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. 

Before You Get Started

  • Consultation: Start with a consultation with a skilled nail technician. Discuss your preferences, any concerns you may have, and the results you’re looking to achieve.
  • Prepare the Nails: Before beginning the Russian manicure, ensure your nails are clean and free of any existing polish.
  • Patch Test: If you have sensitive skin or a history of allergies to nail products, request a patch test before the full procedure
  • Sanitization: Ensure that all tools and equipment are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before use.
  • Limit Exposure to Water: Avoid soaking your hands in water for an extended period before the manicure, as it makes them more vulnerable to damage during the procedure.

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. 

Quick Guide to Russian Manicure

  • Precise Shaping: The technician will file and shape your nails using the specialized bits, ensuring a precise and even result.
  • Gentle Cuticle Work: The technician will use the selected bit to gently remove any dead skin and soften the cuticles. Russian manicures typically avoid aggressive cuticle cutting.
  • Finished Look: After the Russian manicure, your nails should look clean, well-shaped, and well-groomed.
  • Natural-Looking Nails: The technique results in well-groomed, natural-looking nails. If you prefer a subtle look, Russian manicures are an ideal choice.
  • Perfect for Nail Art: Russian manicures provide a clean canvas for nail art and intricate designs.



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

ibe the purpose of the image(opens in a new tab). Leave empty if the image

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. 

Keep in Mind

  • Quality Products: Use high-quality, professional-grade nail products and tools. Subpar products can lead to suboptimal results and potential damage to the nails.
  • Be Mindful of Activities: After the manicure, be cautious about activities that could potentially damage your nails.
  • Moisturize: After the Russian manicure, apply nourishing cuticle oil or nail serum to keep the nails and cuticles hydrated and healthy.
  • Aftercare: Apply cuticle oil or nail serum regularly to keep your nails and cuticles hydrated. Use sunscreen or gloves when exposed to UV radiation.
  • Regular Maintenance: Keep up with regular nail maintenance appointments to preserve the results and the overall health of your nails.



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. 

Keep your hand steady while using the e-file to ensure precision and prevent any accidental damage to your nails or cuticles.

Russian manicure vs. Regular manicure: which is better?

Image by @vernisnailspa via Instagram

Choosing between a Russian manicure and a regular one depends on individual preferences and nail care needs.

Russian Manicure: A Russian manicure, also known as a dry manicure or e-file manicure, is favored for its precision and thoroughness in cuticle and nail care.

It involves using an electric file (e-file) to gently remove cuticle growth and shape the nails without soaking them in water.

Those who desire a clean, polished nail look with precise cuticle maintenance prefer this technique. It’s particularly suitable for individuals with sensitive or overgrown cuticles.

Regular Manicure: A regular manicure, also known as a wet manicure, is a more traditional approach that involves soaking the nails in warm water to soften the cuticles and nail beds.

This method is famous for its relaxation factor and includes steps like filing, cuticle pushing, and nail polishing.

Regular manicures can be an excellent choice for those seeking a pampering experience and primary nail care.

Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on your preferences and the specific needs of your nails.

Some individuals prefer the thoroughness and longevity of a Russian manicure, while others enjoy the relaxation and pampering aspect of a regular manicure.

It’s essential to consider your nail care goals and consult with a professional nail technician who can provide personalized recommendations based on your unique requirements.

Fun Fact

The technique was initially developed in Russia for nail technicians to create a natural, well-groomed look for performers in Russian ballet. The focus on precision and minimal damage to the natural nails made it the ideal choice for performers.


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. 

Ariel Coleman

Leave a Comment